My fall 2010 collection is inspired by the culture and clothing of the wild west. The people, landscapes and attitudes of the American west during the early 1800’s was a combination of rough and refined, irreverence and religion. Westward expansion introduced miners, pioneers, bankers, ranchers, and missionaries to rough terrain and conflict within themselves as well as with Native peoples. The lifestyle demanded rough, durable garb for daily wear, as clothing was scarce and the terrain untamed. Elements of style and proper dress were still expected among many, so an amalgamation of East and West emerged.
This collection embraces traditional western styles while converging with biblical imagery of Revelations, the last book in the New Testament. The supernatural imagery and iconography described in this biblical passage remind me of western films. The horses, riders, clouds and sky are represented in the west. The fear of death and need for bravery was nigh, these people journeying west at times felt as though God was ending the world.
Focusing on fleshy tones, the clothing will remind us of our humanity and powerlessness in the wild world. In contrast, the structure of the pieces will be tough and utilitarian to allow the wearer to function in adverse landscapes. As the palate is limited, I have incorporated a large variety of textures, fibers, prints and weights. Heavy wools, furs and weaves will compliment light cottons, chiffons and silks for a layered, amalgamated look.
Annie Oakley and western film has (obviously) captured my heart’s interest. I’m in love with Oakley’s badass shooting skills paired with her demure, modest attitude. She also was a skilled seamstress and made all of her costumes for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
I recently had the pleasure of seeing Jeremiah Johnson (1972). Robert Redford plays Johnson, a loner who ascends into the mountains of Utah to live off the land. After some trials and the death of his horse, an experienced grisly hunter shows him the way. The utilitarianism of the clothing is absolutely beautiful. Fur coats and capelets, leather shirts, boots and pants paired with heavy wools and coats.
Illustrations based on the book of Revelations: