June 18, 2013
Don’t you love it when things arrive unexpectedly? Years ago, while at an event organized by my friend, Amy, I was seated next to the incredibly sweet (and very talented painter) Kristina Bailey. After meeting Kristina, I pitched her series of wedding gown paintings to one of my magazine editors and was assigned to write the piece. When the article published, in return (and totally not necessary, but this is just the sort of good soul she is), she offered to paint my own gown.
I’d forgotten all about it until it recently arrived. It’s interesting to me, the painting, showing up when it did. Here I am, knee-deep in mommyhood and everything pertaining to the baby. It is so nice to be reminded of that gown at this stage in my life and marriage. We’ll be married a decade this year. And it reminded me of that day, so long ago when I tried the dress on for the first time.
There is something so pure and lovely about a wedding gown. It’s full of hopes and dreams and such care goes into selecting one. When I looked for mine, I wanted a dress that was timeless. My simple, strapless A-line silhouette with hand-beaded embellishment stands the course of the years, I think. I chose it on a cold wintry day with my former roommates at a tiny boutique in Roswell, Georgia. I loved that gown.
I am not expecting Margaret to want to wear mine on her wedding day. But, what would be pretty special is if we could make something out of it – a short, rehearsal dinner dress, perhaps? I’ve also saved the never before worn wrap that matches the dress. I always imagine it one day being a table runner in a formal dining room used for special occasions.
As for the painting, it’ll eventually live in a dressing room, off a master bedroom (in my dream house). For now, it hangs in our bedroom, you see it just as you pass the hall and it gives me such a smile each time that I do.
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May 7, 2013
I’m not great at throwing parties. I get nervous about attendees (I’m always afraid no one will show up), have grandiose plans and tend to leave too many details to the last minute. Plus, if anyone else is throwing a party for me (bridal and baby showers) it’s almost worse because I even try to micromanage that. Yikes.
Ever since I had Margaret, I’m very in tune to seasonal changes. I found myself this winter, relishing in the pureness of the colder weather months. I looked at things like the quiet snow at my parents’ house in such a different way than before. And now, spring – there’s green everywhere. Buds are on the cusp of bursting with flowers, birds are flirting with each other; it feels so alive in our backyard right now (though, we’ve had a bit of a cold spell, like much of the country, the past couple of days).
It’s always this time of year, late spring into early summer where I start to feel really social. I’ve been daydreaming about throwing a party, a summertime fete—like a real, grown-up party. My friend, Heather, throws an annual Great Gatsby affair in September and I love the idea of that (you can read all about it here). If I were to throw a party, it would be one of two themes, either a daytime, The Secret Garden, or nighttime, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The former, a casually elegant afternoon bash laced with the freshness of the season, the later, a nighttime fete full of glamour and heaps of champagne. PS – Aren’t you so excited for The Great Gatsby to open this week?
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
1. Macaroons, The Glitter Guide 2. Iris Chiffon Maxi Dress, Oasis 3. Floral Arrangement, Flower Wild 4. Brilliant Bare Vivid Shine Lipstick, Estée Lauder 5. Lace Table Overlays, Burnett’s Boards 6. Blood Orange, Beet, and Fennel Salad, Bon Appétit 7. DIY Paper Pom Poms, Mokkasin
1. Midnight Vineyard Party Invitations, Minted 2. Floor-length silk and lace gown, Valentino 3. Wellfleet Oysters, Island Creek Oysters 4. Cocktails on Silver, Jose Villa 5. Bobby Dazzler Nail Lacquer, Butter London 6. Navy Stripe Tablescape, Style Me Pretty, Image: Jessica’s Photography
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April 30, 2013
Years ago on Project Runway, they had a designer named Uli and I adored her amazingly simple, gorgeous beachy cocktail dresses. Then, I met Megan Huntz and fell instantly in love with her collection for the same reason I was drawn to the similar aesthetic of Uli’s—effortless elegance all wrapped up in beautiful dresses, tunics, tanks, and stylish pants.
The Atlanta-based designer and I met while I was editor at DailyCandy and I profiled one of my favorite collections in a short piece. Ever since, her style stuck has with me. She recently launched a line of dapper ties for men under Huntz & White, so it was the perfect excuse to see what else she has up her gorgeous sleeve.
danapop: Silk is a notoriously difficult fabric to work with – why did you choose it for almost all of your pieces?
Megan Huntz: When I started my dress line, I had been working in the Italian denim industry for about 5 years, specifically working a lot on the development of washings and distress treatments for jeans. After working on jeans for such a long time, I felt the need for dresses – the dress being the quintessential piece of a woman’s wardrobe. I chose silk because it’s delicate but also very resistant. I began experimenting with dye and washing to distress it, and loved the results. The destruction of something luxurious to render it completely unique fascinated me.
dp: When I met you back in 2010, you were dying fabrics in the ocean which I found so interesting both in terms of the amount of time it took, but also in the effect it had on the garment – does water still play into your work?
MH: In my latest collection, I have experimented with stone washing silk in nature. I had these huge pieces of fabric rolling around in puddles on a mountain. I photographed them, catching the reflection of the sky and the trees in the surface of the water, and developed a series of digital prints on silk from them. So, I continue to work on the textile enrichment in a physical way, but I’ve also taken it a step further making it into something conceptual as well.
I also did a fashion-art show in a multi media installation presentation last November called Souvenir. It was base around a piece of pink shantung silk that I took on an Italian journey; it joined me on my adventures and has the scars to prove it. It was documented then made into a 10 piece collection and was presented in a multimedia installation, featuring a special guest appearance by performance artist, Kiki Blood, at Space 2 in Atlanta, GA.
My next show will be on June 8th during Modern Atlanta. Keep in touch for more details about this upcoming show.
dp: You lived in Europe for a while … how did living in Spain and Italy influence your creative process? How does your hometown of Atlanta play into things today?
MH: My formation as a fashion designer happened completely in Italy, from studying and working there, and as a result I focus on the fit, quality of fabrics and try to make wearable yet unique pieces with a strong concept backing it all up. Italian style is all about elegance with ease, and personal style coming through in subtle ways. One of the strongest ideas that I took away from living in Italy is using local resources, perfecting craft and harnessing local genius; so it’s a dream of mine to work more with luxurious cottons and cotton-silk blends. We have some amazing cotton here but unfortunately the textile industry has been whittled down mostly to jersey for mens undershirts … and I’d love to see more higher end textiles and apparel manufacturing developed here. All of the skeletons of these old factories are around us, and hopefully as the demand for local and US manufacturing grows, we will see a renaissance in the apparel industry here in the Southeast.
I love living and working in Atlanta. I feel a kinship with many other artists, musicians, photographers and graphic designers here. There is a warmth to things here, and a lot of creative space here for me to grow, and do my businesses and my art on my own terms. I also see people craving style and culture here, ready to be introduced to new things from a global perspective and embracing the great creative things that are happening on a local level as well.
dp: Tell me about Huntz & White and how the collaboration with Trevor works.
MH: Trevor inspired me to act on this project, and his own personal style and flair have a big influence on our product. Now that I am working on a menswear accessory, I feel like a whole new world has opened up for me as a designer. Menswear is completely different from womenswear. It sounds obvious, but where womenswear is full of fantasy, the shapes and styles are limitless, menswear is much more so about nuance, detail and small twists and tweaks on basics. People had asked me to do mens ties for as long as I can remember, applying the same techniques I have been working on with the dresses. So, we took that concept and began over-dyeing linens and raw silks and hand picking special dead stock fabrics from Italy to create this limited edition of mens neckwear. It has the same nonchalance and ease (exclusive yet accessible) as my dresses do. Dresses for the ladies, ties for the gentleman. I think that creates a very nice symmetry!
dp: You hand-sew everything out of your Atlanta studio, how do you keep up with the demand, especially in today’s realm of marketing and global production?
MH: I make all of my own patterns and prototypes and do quite a bit of sewing on custom pieces myself, but I also outsource sewing for larger orders to a small factory outside of Atlanta. Production is always a challenge, especially if you’re talking about manufacturing in the US. Keeping everything close and nearby is something that I am passionate about though, for many reasons: quality control over my product, stimulating my local economy and trying to grow the fashion industry here in Atlanta, which is also a HUGE challenge. That said, I am always looking to grow my network of people working in apparel manufacturing and textiles.
dp: Who is the Megan Huntz woman and do you have a style icons?
MH: The Megan Huntz woman is someone who loves to be elegant yet unique, like the best, absolutely effortless version of themselves. True beauty comes from the inside out, and my dresses sparks a feeling in the woman who wears them.
Can I touch on one more thing? For as much as I love my country for it’s risk takers, free thinkers, our diversity and innovation that inspires the whole world – I’d like to talk for just a second about style icons in the American fashion industry and how, for the most part, it completely grosses me out. The obsession with celebrity and the flamboyance and ostentation associated with it, has skewed values (or is a reflection on our skewed values here in the States. Either/or, maybe it’s a combination of both). The focus of American fashion design is attached to a prescribed (and dated) “image” fueled by bling, a false sense of wealth and superficiality, encourages a lack of intellect and celebrates bad taste. There is very little value put into intelligence, real design, quality of craft, concept, and creative integrity in the fashion industry in the US. The anti-dote? I don’t pretend to have all of the answers to this dilemma, but turning off the reality TV shows and putting models back on the cover of American Vogue might be a good place to start.
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April 16, 2013
My grandmother, Mary, had a collection of paper dolls with vintage clothes she had framed and hung in the guest bedroom I used to stay in as a child.
My sisters and I would fight over which doll was the prettiest and which one we’d play with if ever we were allowed to let them out of their framed home. We’d pick outfits out for them and create a life for them beyond the pane of glass.
My friend, Kenn, has a series of modern paper dolls. (Of course he does, he’s the most creatively brilliant person I know.) These hand-drawn beings complete with contemporary details like sleeve tattoos give Grandma Mary’s vintage ones an updated run for their money. I know many a kid who would love to get their hands on them. This site, minimepaperdolls.com, has a great collection, too.
I just might have to get a little Seith paper family made. It’ll be easy, as there are no inked-up arms among us.
Image: Courtesy of Mini Me Paper Dolls Boutique
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March 29, 2013
I’ve talked about my parents’ house on these pages before, but I’ve never fully explained their stellar taste in art. My mom often says that one of the only reasons she worked was to support their art habit. My parents’ taste is quite eclectic and ranges from their Oklahoma roots with a strong Native American influence, to surrealist and cubist works peppered throughout.
Here are my five (or more) favorite pieces of work found in their loft.
It’s really no wonder one of us would become an artist. This is a custom installation from my twin sister, Ann, who is an incredible ceramist. It’s a piece based off Leonard Peltier’s, Prison Writings, My Life is My Sun Dance, which she was reading at the time. For many years, Peltier was serving his two life-sentences in my hometown at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas.
This is one of two art walls in my parents’ house. It has some of my favorite works including a framed Mola tapestry (hanging to the left of the car image in the center) they gifted relatives one Christmas while they were living in Panama. These gorgeous textiles are pretty enough to solicit a frame (as they did).
While this isn’t art, per se, this vintage brass diving helmet my dad scored in Korea is displayed as if it were a sculpture. It lives in my mom’s bedroom and is the one item I absolutely covet in that house.
Talk about a conversation piece … I’ve always loved the Catalan painter Joan Miró human rights poster that hangs in the kitchen. The Unesco poster commemorated the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Delaration of Human Rights. Ironic that this week, in 2013, we were awash in a sea of red for equality. Same message, different decade. Love is love.
Their hallway makes a statement with this trio—a painting from Kansas-based David Melby hanging over a mechanical elephant that my brother and sister named Tony, sitting next to vessels by Ann. Tony was given to David and Susan as a Christmas gift one year and still gives rides.