Hey look! I'm proud of my garden patch over here on Sumner Street, especially the tomato plants. I tried a technique we used in Santa Cruz called dry farming- a seemingly harsh watering approach used almost exclusively with tomato plants. When you put the starts in the ground you give them a deep watering- 12 hours on a trickle. After that nothing. No water all summer long. The result is a compact little bush weighed down with a zillion tomatoes. And the flavor is amazing- sweet and concentrated and not at all diluted by water. Kinda fun to see how well the plants can handle the sun and heat. They don't seem to mind one bit. In the foreground is a little patch of carrots protected from the menacing cats with chicken wire.
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This is totally nerdy and insignificant but aren't these shoes the best!? I just went to get some coffee at The Waypost cafe down the street and stopped in to the new five and dime next door. They have the best stuff! I got these vintage boot/shoes, a pair of clear jellies, a transparent navy blue polka dot button-up shirt, and a heathery wool derby hat all for under $40 bucks! But it might not be for everyone. Bello didn't find anything that he liked.
San Francisco. Yes, he's got it.
This past weekend my sister and I attended the glorious Pickathon music festival on Pendarvis farm in Portland. It was so fun! I am not one for music festivals and this was great, great, great. It was small and human- run by like three fellas and a bunch of volunteers who, like us, were "working" in order to listen to amazing music and lay in the meadow. Our booth, along with the four other non-food booths (see how small!), lined the top of the field in which three of the five stages were located. So while we sold Filly dresses and Feeleez buttons and games, we also got to listen to and watch live music that we love. Camping, dresses, music, and Nat / Echo- I could not have asked for anything more.
Twice a week I work the Springhill Farm stand at the Portland Farmer's Market. I earn enough to almost pay for my berry expenditures. We are a vegetable stand and I get to take home MOUNDS of potatoes, tomatoes, greens, and garlic, basil and parsley for homemade pesto. The other day I made a cilantro "pesto"- just cilantro, parsley, garlic, olive oil and pumpkin seeds. Super good and light.
Leila Elliott. We grew up two blocks from each other and now live ten blocks from each other. She is odd in the good way. Recent convert to an all-Filly wardrobe. Naturally bleached-blond. Potentially a bad-ass bike-riding companion. Peace-core volunteer. Spanish major. Single. But not for long. She joined me for my evening routine of watching beautiful African men play soccer at Irving Park. I sit on the hill with my seam-ripper and clothes from the collection and admire the players while Bello chews on sticks. I like to wear a dress and tan sandals and imagine I am someone with an accent. Bare shoulders, bare legs and white clothing on my lap as the light fades cause me to fall in love with myself.
(picking ripe blueberries outside the trailer) And so now I have free time, and it is kinda overwhelming. I'm trying to remember what I do with myself when I am not working. It is also a strangely sad time for me as well. My life still feels different and foreign in this new city and without long-time friends at my side-and when I am not working, I am more aware of this state of starting over. Sometimes I am frustrated at being such an emotionally slow mover.
I finished Spring 09! It is out of my hands and in a precious box heading to the East Bay for "official sample manufacture". I hope it looks good. This was the largest collection I have made- 21 pieces. And this is for spring only, there will be another separate collection for summer. I am in talks with Tracey my rep and a Portland-based belt maker about collaborating on a Filly belt to go along with the dresses. Should be cool. And the colors are nice- yes, I did use sea foam blue but it is closer to a cucumber. Mostly it just feels amazing to be done.
I wish I had her hair. Oh, and her coat. And shoes. And probably her dress if I could see it.
(Laurie Longenecker) All of Santa Cruz smells like the sea. Even miles from the shore the ocean asserts itself- salty and bigger than you.
I didn't know this when I lived there but I realize it now.
July 4th. I don't care for this holiday. Fireworks are terrible and they scare animals... so... anyway. It is a little blustry outside, grey and cool.This is my one day off between farmer's markets (my side job) and I know I need to work but I don't feel like it. I would rather go home and read my book. A little later I am invited to a BBQ at Leila's house (my childhood friend who now lives here, yes!) so there is that to look forward to. I don't want to feel melancholy but I do.
Those that know me also know there are so many things I could say about Josh... so I will limit this post to a description of his well-honed skills as a frame builder. He started a little frame company called Frances Cycles (named after his mom) which he operates out of his backyard workshop. He makes these amazing bicycles that are really very artistic with curved seat stays and personal details such as custom head badges and seat cluster cut-outs. And he does all of this without big machinery- hand-built wooden jigs for bending tubes, an architect's drawing table for mapping it all out, files. He truly loves bicycles and this appreciation comes out in the painstaking way he assembles each one. His bicycles are individuals. But don't get the impression that these are shiny, prissy, look-like-they-live in a gallery bicycles-these are hardy rides, tested off road in the wilds of North Coast Santa Cruz. He is currently offering fixed gears, city bikes, road bikes, cross bikes, touring bikes, and cargo bikes for carrying your dog around town. I have a gorgeous little yellow city bike that is so precious to me I actually keep it inside my airstream trailer.
When my sister first met Josh it was during a Bike-To-Work bicycle art show in which a number of his prints were featured. She was looking at a red and yellow print with the words: "BICYCLE therein lies salvation" along the bottom and she turned to me with a concerned expression and said "He really likes bikes." www.francescycles.com.
gosh, this is how designers earn their keep- designing a collection is an all-consuming process. It is soul searching and soul crushing. Do I have any new ideas, any talent at all? Do I have the down-right stamina to complete a 20 piece collection within the next two weeks? Can I handle another day hunched over my work table going through the same steps over and over: wrangling with my old Morse sewing machine, ripping out faulty seams, feeding elastic into prepared channels, ironing, ironing, more ironing. Ira Glass of This American Life my constant companion.
And outside the summer unfolds.
On Sunday I walked over to Emily Kingan's photo shoot for her Spring 09 collection. She rented a large warehouse space in an underused industrial section of N. Portland- under the freeway overpasses and among small dead-end streets. The area itself was worth a photo shoot- gorgeous weathered paint, large barn like double doors, blackberry bushes swarming under the eaves, and a quiet deserted feel. Quite romantic. Inside the studio Emily and her team - stylist, photographer, and two models- were just getting started. Emily makes gender-less clothing. Her line bridges the space between "male" versus "female" clothing, harmonizing somewhere in the middle. Her debut collection consists of delicate and beautifully crafted button-up shirts in a palette of dirty lime, rose, denim blue, and dusty brown with contrasting detail inside the collar. Her attention to detail and insistence on perfection make these made-to-order shirts truly worth every penny. Plus she is is my studio-mate and an all around awesome person. Contact her at email@example.com
This is for Bonnie- she might have a lead as to the whereabouts of my mascot - the turquoise blue horse that belonged to my mom. I coveted this little figurine throughout childhood and cherished her once my mom passed her on to me. She always sat on her own little shelf in my studio- and one day, she wasn't there. This was years ago but the search continues...
"Hi, my name is Dori and I live in Maine on a small island. I had a wedding party to attend to in the past week and as every woman, couldn’t find anything to wear in my own closet. I was lucky to have a friend who owns one of your empire style dresses (a yellow dress with black horses design). I never would have thought to wear empire style and yellow dress, but with no doubt that was the most flattering piece that I’ve ever worn. That’s how I’ve learned about FILLY. Thank you for making me feel beautiful!" I was wondering how one living out in nowhere can buy your clothes? Is it possible to buy your pieces online? Thank you."
I get inquiries like this quite often and the answer is YES, anyone can buy directly from me. If you know your Filly size it makes it easier. Just let me know what style you are interested in and I can tell you what colors are available. I send you the dress, you send me a check. Pretty simple. In general Filly dresses and tunics are $175, skirts are $110, and tops are $80. I feel a little crude talking money but I figure, I would want to know this information if I were excited about a line.
Oh, and the image above is from Spring 07. It is currently on sale at Olio United in Portland, OR. http://www.oliounited.com/
The Fashion Fight Club: A Portland Designer Collective. My dear friend Kenya (sky&boat.com) has started an independent designer's collective with the intention of organizing and supporting each other through shared information, group shows, emotional support, guest lecturers, block trade show rates, and camaraderie. Twice a month we meet for coffee and talk. It is so nice to be able to ask someone else how they go about this fashion thing- and not a teacher or boss but another gal like myself who is just figuring it out through trial and error. We have a blog (yes, another blog.) http://fashionfightclub.blogspot.com- if you are in the Portland area check it to look for upcoming sales and parties. Fun fun.
In studio. Thursday evening. All week I have been waiting for fabric to arrive before I can officially get started designing spring 09. Doing a little in-the-meantime puttering. Everybody else has gone home so Bob Marley is turned way up.
Currently I am collecting on fall and holiday 07, retailing spring 08, manufacturing fall 08, promoting holiday 08, and designing spring 09. Not sure this is what I imagined the life of a fashion designer to be. A lot to keep on track.
I lived in the attic of Ruth's old house in Berkeley while I attended fashion school. I loved Berkeley with its great houses and endless neighborhoods to walk through. And I loved this house- mostly the fact that I lived here with two other women and we spent enormous amounts of time drinking wine and talking crudely. Josh, Jeff, Quentin and I made the space livable by putting in a spiral staircase where the 2nd floor hallway closet was. The atic was huge, smelled strongly of wood and had a climate all its own. In the winter it was crisp and refreshing compared to the forced air heating down below. In the summer it baked and I lived without clothes and hated to touch anything. I miss everything about it.