October 21 2020

(Above: Valerie and Jean having too much fun!)

These iconic New York women have been featured on The Today Show website, spotted at New York Fashion Week, and included in Ari Seth Cohen’s hugely popular Advanced Style blog. They’ve been attending the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show for well over a decade and are looking forward to this year’s online Show. Jean and Valerie met in 2008 at the Manhattan Vintage Show. Connecting over their shared love of hats and fashion, the rest is herstory and they’ve been friends ever since. They started their blog over 10 years ago and have a wildly popular presence on Instagram. Tried and true New Yorkers, their love of craft and fashion have taken them around the world and around the region including their annual visit to Philadelphia. As this year’s Craft Show goes virtual, we asked what they have in mind for their online experience...

 

What are you looking forward to at this year’s online Show?

Jean: In the current climate, supporting craft artists is especially important. Besides seeing what known artists are up to, I’m looking forward to seeing the work of emerging artists.

Valerie: I’m excited to see new color combinations, new shapes, new textures, new techniques, and new uses for materials that I’d never thought of. I’m looking forward to seeing things that will wake my brain out of the artistic slumber that modern life lures us into.

(Above: The gals at a lecture they gave at Parsons School of Design in NYC)

 

What advice would you give for ways to enjoy the online version of the Show?

Jean: My advice is to relax and go with the flow. Look at new categories and artists as well as old favorites.

Valerie: Use it as a springboard!  When you see an artist whose work intrigues you, look further into that artist’s work. The online possibilities are endless and joyful.

 

What would you like people to know about the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show?

Jean: It features the best of the best craft artists and is not to be missed. The behind-the-scenes support of donors, museum members, show committee and attendees is critical to its continued success.

Valerie: It's easier than ever to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show now because it's online. You can drop in even if you're in your armchair in Australia, and even if it's 2am. Stay as long as you like, and it’s okay to bring a snack (or a cocktail!). Treat yourself. Particularly during these pandemic times, your new objet d’art will not only spark joy, it will help keep an artist in business.

(Above: A sign of the times)

We heard you were spotted by the actress Olympia Dukakis on the streets of New York and acknowledged by famed Vogue editor Anna Wintour at a press event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. What else do you enjoy about your fame as the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas?

Jean: I love the opportunity to meet people IRL (in real life) from other countries with whom I've connected online. Also, meeting British milliner Stephen Jones and designer Jean Paul Gaultier and reconnecting with both of them at the Metropolitan Museum's 2018 Heavenly Bodies exhibition are my all-time highlights! 

Valerie: Numerous older women have written to thank us for demonstrating that older women are fun and funny, engaged and engaging, smart and thoughtful. Numerous younger women have also written, saying they dreaded growing old until they read our blog. We unwittingly became role models just by doing what interests us. I’m so glad to have been able to do that.

 

What are some common questions you get asked?

Jean: People ask if I'm an artist or a designer. Because I have no skills in either area, I say that I am neither, but support those who do.

Valerie: We get asked: Are you artists? Are you designers? Are you models? Are you actors? Are you going to a party?

Above: A sampling of the many artists at this year's Show. From upper left to lower right: Kathleen Dustin, Biba Schutz, Steven Ford & David Forlano, and Danielle Gori-Montanelli

(Photos of the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas provided courtesy of themselves.)

 

Follow the Fashionistas on Instagram: @idiosyncraticfashionistas - and tune in to the Craft Show November 6th -8th, with a virtual preview on November 5th

 

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August 28 2019

(Above: from collection by Janice Kissinger)

Fiber wearables are highly popular at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. So much so, there is an entire fashion show centered around this category. Beautiful, colorful, striking, and utilitarian, fiber wearables continue to impress Show attendees, as the artist/designers continue to innovate and create in fabric, textures, and shapes.

Janice Kissinger’s finely sculpted apparel is a prime example. Recipient of Ornament Magazine’s Art-to-Wear Fiber prize at the 2018 PMA Craft Show, Janice creates one of a kind pieces with (surprisingly) no sewing involved. “I seek to drape the body with the same beauty and grace of the traditional Indian saris I use in my work”, says Kissinger. “Creating couture results without sewing is an ongoing adventure.” Adding her own hand-dyed silks and loose wool fibers, Janice uses traditional wet felting methods to build the fabric and the finished garment simultaneously, with zero fabric waste.

(Above: Patrick Benesh-Liu, Associate Editor of Ornament Magazine presenting Award for Art-to-Wear to fiber artist Janice Kissinger)

Patrick Benesh-Liu, Associate Editor of Ornament Magazine says, “In today's world of fast fashion and online shopping, it’s a special treat to talk with the makers. It is an even greater one to try on a hand-felted and dyed jacket, right in their booth. The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is just the place for these human connections, and in its consistent pursuit of the highest levels of American craft, it has become an annual destination for us at Ornament Magazine. Last year we awarded the Ornament Prize for Art-to-Wear to fiber artist Janice Kissinger, who stood out because of her deft marriage of recycled saris with her hand-dyed felt. Beautiful and sensuous. Try one on; you won't regret it.”

(Above: from collection by Janice Kissinger)

Her fourth time exhibiting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, Janice appreciates the high quality of the work on display. “My creative energy is recharged spending time soaking up the gorgeous work, the supportive energy of the committee and the reaffirming personalities of the other artists.” Janice loves the transformation in someone’s face when they try on her pieces. “You can see the confidence, the power and sexiness or sophistication she sees in that mirror. That’s a big part of what keeps me making my work.”

NICOLE HADDAD

“I love making clothing that makes people excited to get dressed. My collections are born from my obsession with color and texture”, she says. “Every season I design prints based on texture and then I use color to bring out the best in the print. It makes me happy when other people resonate with my work and collect my pieces.”  

(Above: Lobo Mau collection by Nicole Haddad)

A Philadelphia local, this is the first time Nicole Haddad and her brand Lobo Mau will be exhibiting at the Craft Show. Designing clothing since she was three years old, Nicole comes from a long line of fashion designers in Philadelphia, learning very early from her grandmother. The daughter of Brazilian jazz musicians, Nicole brings her unique heritage to her clothing design. She completed her Master’s in Fashion Design from Drexel University and launched Lobo Mau in 2008. Winner of Drexel’s “40 Under 40” in 2017 and Best of Philly 2019 for Best Sustainable Brand, Nicole is inspired by designers that make sustainability a priority in their work. Her brother Jordan joined the company in 2016 and together they have extended Lobo Mau’s market to New York, Los Angeles, and London.

(Above: Lobo Mau collection by Nicole Haddad)

MARY JAEGER

Mary Jaeger’s background is both cosmopolitan and international. She designed professionally in the NYC garment center for over five years, which she considers her boot camp phase. From there, she was in Japan for eight years where she worked in the kimono industry in Kyoto and designed collections in Tokyo and Paris. Now Jaeger has an independent design studio in Brooklyn and earlier this year, she won the 2019 Honoring the Future Sustainability Award given by the Smithsonian Craft Show. 

Jaeger’s current collection focuses on the juxtaposition of hand-dyed, hand-made pleated garments in the UNFOLDING PROJECT: Accordions Silks with her diffusion printed WHISPERING TEXTILES collection of silk scarves, dresses and diaphanous dusters. The mystery elements are the Words of Hope in each piece, including love, compassion, peace, joy, and happiness. Jaeger says, “These words give deeper meaning to the hand-work, thought-process, care and time invested in the making of these individual items in our era of mass markets, frenetic consumption and dismissive waste.”

 

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March 18 2015

Juanita Girardin of New Mexico was awarded the 2014 Best of Show prize for her wearable fiber art, the first time the award was presented to an artist in the category.

How did you first get interested in working in your medium?

Making cloth and clothing has been a part of my life since childhood. I grew up in a textile town in New England at a time when sewing your own clothes was commonplace and still taught in junior high school. Many of the women in my immediate and extended family sewed, knitted or crocheted. In the late 60s/early 70s my first textile art was my patched jeans. In high school I would make clothing for my friends. My college studies in textile design seemed like a natural step. My medium has been a continuous presence in my life.

What is special about the medium you work in? How does it inform the work you create?

Textiles, cloth, and clothing are ubiquitous; they are the ever-present material of our lives. We are enveloped in cloth from sunrise to sunset. To create handmade, expressive, unique clothing via design of form and surface, without moving into the realm of costume is infinitely challenging to me. Textiles, fiber, cloth are wonderfully malleable, forgiving and adaptable. The material leads the process and all the subsequent manipulations and explorations of surface and form. What do you love about your workspace or studio? My studio is perfectly imperfect.

What was the inspiration for a recent piece?

I'm generally influenced by art, interior design, fashion and environmental evolution. Currently, I’m interested in the drawn line so I've been looking at artists that use lines in their work, most recently the painter Max Cole. I have been focused for sometime on the stitched line, taking away, reductive shapes, and trying to say more with less.

Can you share a personal highlight of the 2014 PMA Craft Show — other than winning the award, of course!

The high point of any show for me is seeing the inspiring work of my colleagues in various mediums and meeting with my collectors. Receiving the Best of Show award, the first time it was given to textiles at the PMA show, was momentous for me of course and it led to many interesting conversations with visitors to the show. Craft show visitors are educated and informed with incredibly diverse backgrounds and a strong interest in design and material. They often have vibrant personalities and initiate conversations that lead me to new ways of seeing and thinking.

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August 20 2014

When Craft Show shoppers aren’t browsing one-of-a-kind, wearable works of art to add to their wardrobes over four jam-packed days in November, they can find wares from many of our craft artists on sites like Etsy. Placing these museum-quality pieces for sale through an online retailer is the digital equivalent to the street selling of only a few decades ago—and for some artists, it can be a jumpstart to a career.

Patrick Kelly, a black clothing designer from the rural south, was one of the craft artists who earned that jumpstart. Kelly went from selling his designs on the streets of 1980s Paris to being carried by Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman a short two years later. A retrospective of his work, Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love,” is on view now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through December 7 and is a must-see for visiting craft artists and fashion aficionados.

The Wall Street Journal credits Philadelphia Museum of Art senior curator Dilys Burn for curating an exhibition that feels like a “five year party,” following the five years of Kelly’s short career, from his first official collection in 1985 to his death on Jan. 1, 1990.

Get a jolt of the 80’s from “the most important fashion designer you’ve never heard of” to go with the fashion-forward yet classic jackets, scarves, sweaters and more that you’ll find this year at the Craft Show.

Visit 2014 Craft Show Wearable Fiber Art to see the wearable artwork that will be available this November from our 2014 artists.

 

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Building, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave.

"Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love"

Museum admission $20, $18 seniors, $14 students and ages 13-18, under 12 free. 

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