Seattle Spotlight: Sweet P & Sage Debut Ghosts in The Gardencomments (3) October 31st, 2008
Project Runway alum Sweet P and visual artist, Sage Vaughn, are in Seattle! Tomorrow, November 1st is the retail launch party for their incredible collaboration: Ghosts in the Garden: a limited edition fashion capsule produced by the innovative artistic platform, Pulp Lab. CraftStylish has been following the October pre-launch excitement here in Seattle (the collection has been previewed in hot boutique windows all around the city.) And tomorrow, Seattle fashionistas will gather to fete Sweet P, Sage and their sublimely beautiful creation.
Some marriages are ideally suited for business ventures, others not so much. We were curious about how a creative process is influenced, enhanced, or hindered by working with someone you love and feel you know so well. CraftStylish spoke with these two artists about their individual creative processes and about what discoveries were made when they joined forces. Here's what they had to say:
How did you first come up with the concept for Ghosts?
Sweet P: When we met with Kate (of Pulp Lab) to talk about doing something together we proposed a limited fashion collection that was created collaboratively—Kate loved the idea and Sage immediately came up with the concept.
Sage: Yes, I was imagining a broad aesthetic combination: hand painted images on white garments with an interesting use of color. I don’t usually think of my work in this way, but it just came to me.
Sweet P: I had a vision of what Sage was describing: birds, butterflies, flowers in bright jewel tone colors on an off-white, bone background.
Was this your first collaboration together?
Sweet P: Well, this is our first collaboration of this kind. The first thing we did together was our wedding invite.
How did you set about beginning the collaborative process?
Sweet P: We really went back and forth through out the whole process. We were aspiring to create something unique and the integrity of the collaboration was important to us both—we didn’t think that because I am a garment designer that I should necessarily take over that side of things and then have Sage just paint it.
Sage: It’s not just paint—we wanted that to be an organic part of the design.
Sweet P: We didn’t really know how we were going to do this, per se, we just kind of let it happen. So it was very back and forth. We used sketch books and talked about it all of the time and we fed off of each other so it’s hard now to know who did what, when.
Let’s talk about the materials you chose.
Sweet P: Well we wanted to make something that could be worn throughout time, not just spring, winter or this year. Something special to wear: art that is wearable. We wanted the garments to be feminine and to use materials that would let each piece stand individually yet be a part of a whole collection.
I choose some beautiful lightweight silk chiffon and I was very attracted to using some leather—I don’t use leather a lot, but feminine leather like lambskin, which has a nice thickness but is very soft, light. I like the structure it gives –but softly.
Another day I woke up and thought, wool flannel! I wondered if it was an odd choice so it was an experiment and rather unique to use for a party dress. But the richness of the wool really works. It is exciting to work like this and try things out and use unconventional fabrics—and then make discoveries.
Can you talk about the process of construction and painting—did you paint the fabric first?
Sage: Sweet P is the one who really understands garment construction, so in a way we did start there. But we still continued back and forth so that we could figure out when to incorporate the images. It was a bit tricky.
Sweet P: Yes, for the long gown, the flowers were painted onto the lining after the seams were sewn, so that it would be continuous—but the dress was not yet completed. We did have a couple of do overs, when the paint did not take to the fabric the way that we wanted, or the color was off. When we were dying the wool flannel dress, the fabric just took too much dye--and the dress was pretty much completed--that was a do over.
Sage: It felt a bit brave at times but we did do tests with the pigments and fabric—although sometimes the results still varied. Sometimes what did not work on a test, did work out on the garment. Yet, that's what was fun though, working experimentally.
So were there any big surprises?
Sweet P: Hmmm? I feel lucky because in a way it was a constant surprise. This was a different process from what I'm used to or from working with lines that are mass-produced. That was the big thing for me. While mass production has its merits, from a design perspective it can be stifling: creating something that will appeal to the most. For this I felt free, and could approach the design differently.
What excites you about this collection?
Sweet P: Honestly? That it is accessible. Even though this is a limited edition collection (we are making just a few of each) it has been priced to be affordable. One of kind designer dresses are usually priced in a way that excludes most, this line is affordable to many more. This is not a mass produced line, it is not disposable clothing—this is something to keep and enjoy over time and that makes it special.
Sage: I agree. I work in the art world but there it is similar to fashion in that many of our peers could not afford to purchase the art, or the garments that we are all producing. This collection feels like art for us—for all of us.
Sweet P: The other thing is that this was not intended for the masses. The Corsage dress, which is one of my favorites in the line, has a funny story. A friend of mine came over and saw it and asked if he could give me a critique. I said, “Err…yes?” And he said that it looked like someone had been stabbed at the prom! And I love that about that dress! I think that is cool.
Sage: Yes, not every dress is for everyone—and that’s the point. Part of the excitement is in finding an audience for each particular piece.
What did you learn about each other that you didn’t already know?
Sage: We both already had enormous respect for each other as artists but I was impressed watching Sweet P’s process up close and seeing how it all connected for her. It was exciting to feel how much that inspired new thought and direction in me, how it brought out new things.
You know, I work mostly on my own. I don’t have to ask for opinions everyday. But I was able to let Sweet P take charge and not question her; how does wool take to dye? Let's find out?
I felt teachable, that I didn’t have to know it all.
Sweet P: I’m more used to having to work directly with people but I wondered how I was going to handle a scenario where I wasn’t happy with the way something was working out—that, what if it wasn’t what I had envisioned? As a designer, each piece has to be perfect. It was challenging for me sometimes because all I could say was, “I’ll know it when it’s right” So the big thing for me became honesty: I had to be honest with someone I love and respect very much. That's one thing ina relationship and another when you're working together. Sometimes we had to just have faith in timing. Is this a good day? Or know when to leave something, to walk away, or when to pay it the right attention. The payoff came when we would break through and something would just come together and show us both what we wanted. It was cool. We both felt that the other’s ideas and inspiration kept elevating our individual expressions—it was really exciting—and we want to do more. It was liberating to work with someone like Kate at Pulp Lab--she really made this possible and a thrilling creative opportunity.
So is there anything more that you want people to know about this collection?
Sage: Yes. I don’t want to sound corny but I want people to know that it was made by two people who love each other very much.
Sweet P: Oh Sage, that is so sweet!
Sage: Aw, maybe don’t print that…
Are you kidding? How often does anyone get to wear a dress made like that?