Sunday, March 5, 2017


Daily Outfit ('72) made of stitched doilies by Scrumbly Koldewyn / [R] Background panels by Marian Clayden / #Countercouture @MADMuseum

Channeling a counter-conformist sub-culture, 'style' converges on self-expressionist craft through creative conceptualizations of clothing and accessories.The first in a triumvirate of spring exhibits focused on fashion, Counter-Couture: Handmade Fashion in an America Counterculture at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD Museum) exposes the experimental pursuit of personal style in the 60s and 70s. Originating at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Seattle in 2015, the exhibit boasts a culmination of 15 years of research by guest curator Michael Cepress. Keep reading to see how the hippie movement presents a fundamental shift in fashion from consumerism into hand-crafted couture...

Shoes by Apple Cobbler, Mickey McGowan made from non-animal materials

Such a well written exhibit introduction, I wanted to share directly:
"The works on display reflect the ethos of a generation of makers and wearers who--against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement--rejected ideals of the America Dream, which they identified as rooted in consumerism and waste, social conformity in personal appearance and behavior, and a political establishment invested in maintaining the status quo. They embraced a vision of a new, homegrown civilization rooted in self-reliance, resistance to mass market consumerism, an affirmative connection to nature, and forms of communal engagement meant to forge new relationships between self and Other. The artists in this exhibition also embraced an emancipatory vision of art as melded with life, expressed in their adoption of the popular crafts of sewing, embroidery, quilting, patchwork and tie-dye, combined with a a do-it-yourself approach. With craft and the handmade at the center of their daily revolution, they wore garments, jewelry and personal accessories both as wearable art and as symbols of personal and political allegiances." [source: MAD Museum]

Up close: Playtime shoes ('65) by Apple Cobbler made of rubber ducks and other plastic toys

The exhibit spans 5 sections, split between the 4th and 5th floors of the MAD Museum. Visionary transformation of thrift store finds are featured in Funk and Flash, along with eclectic examples of denim customization in Levi's Denim Art Contest on floor Four. On the Fifth, Kaisik Wong's costumes are flanked by garments from San Francisco's Haight Asbury district and NYC's Greenwich Village during the Wearable Art Movement in Couture, Performance and Psychedelic Style.

[R] Hand embroidered + Appliqué Army Coat ('67) by Michael Fajans / [M Hanging] Necklaces ('69, '71) by Laurel Burch / [M] Day + Night skirt by Alexandra Jacopetti Hart / [R] Caftan ('74) by Jill Nordfors Clark

The visual language of fashion achieves a new milestone with the rise of counterculture. Along with bold sentiments splayed by an alternative lifestyle, the self-made style during this period paralleled in perfection to the work of well-known couture ateliers. Intricate embroidery, bold colors, swirling patterns and do-it-yourself artistry evidence a generation's contra-conformity, perceived utopia and experimental version of existence. Click here to see associated events and stay tuned for Judith Leiber: Crafting a New York Story and fashion after Fashion... 

[Front] Embroidered skirt and top ensemble ('72) by Mary Ann Schildknecht / [Backdrop] Tresses Jaunes ('59) by Herman Scholten

[L] Star Shields ensemble ('73) by Star Shields / [M] Elephant dress ('74) by Fred + Candace Kling / [R] Painted Leather Jacket ('71) by Nina Huryn

[L] Egret Ensemble by Margaux Kirsch ('77) / [M] Daydream by Mildred Fischer ('65) / [R] dress by Christopher Crookedstitch ('78)

[L] Women's dress ('70) by Zubin Levy / [R] Walking Sculpture blue jeans ('73) by Shari Wolf Boraz

[L] Patchwork dresses by Yvonne Porcella ('72) / [M] Renaissance Cowboy dress by Victoria Bradshaw / [R] Quilt by Rose Powers ('73)

[L] Chico San Rice mans and boys vest ('70) by Sandra Van Meter / [Back] Eagle Cape ('72) for Gino Sky Poet Performer by Neshama Franklin / [R] Afghan Dress ('75) by Alexandra Jacopetti Hart

Metallic Lightning Bolt Headdress ('74) by Kaisik Wong

L-R [1] Mary Prankstar Acid Test Dress and Boots ('65) / [2] Jumpsuit by Jahanara Romney ('69) / [3] Cosmic Gypsy ensemble ('70) by Fayette Hauser / [4] John Sebastian ensemble ('67) by John Sebastian

5th floor installation view / [R] Costumes by Kaisik Wong

[L] Red + Gold ensemble by Cuca ('74) // [M] Dancepiece #1 ('71) by Leslie Correll // [R] Bedouin Robe Ensemble with Furs ('71) by Alex and Lee

[R] Red Hands bathing suit ('68) / [Wall] Heather Daltry Coat ('70) / [R] Rainbow Ensemble ('69) all by Birgitta Bjerke

Going back to Sweden outfit ('70) by Birgitta Bjerke

[L] Fancy Jacket ('74) by Anna Polesny /  [R] Welfare winner of Levi's Denim Art Competition ('75) / Belts by Billy Shire ('72,'73)

Stitched and embroidered denim jacket by Anna Polesny up close


  1. This has been an over-the-top experience, with all the echoes of the Summer of Love fifty years ago! Celebrate while you can still get a taste of the love and fun and thrill of those days with this nostalgic replay!

  2. Sincere thanks for covering this unique exhibit! Living in Taos these days, I've not yet seen it in person. My 'Red + Gold ensemble by Cuca ('74)' is representing my decade of creating quilted sculpted couture. More can be seen here: For your inspiration! in gratitude, R.A.L. West (aka Cuca)


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