CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

The Fibershed Fashion Gala

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rebecca Burgess made a presentation at our guild, the Redwood Guild of Fiber Arts, a couple of years ago.  Seemingly idealistic in her vision and goal of only wearing clothes grown and made within a few miles of where she lived, we listened in awe of her and the story she told.  A year later, she produced a fashion show, which I heard was fun and fabulous (and sold out), and then Rebecca was our guest speaker again this past fall.  Her story had developed, her mission grew to a large community of farmers and professionals, conferences and networks including the participation of educators and governments.  It grew beyond Northern California, across the country and across “the pond” to England.  Her presentation and process of creating working fibersheds was thorough and compelling, and she announced that tickets to the Fibershed Fashion Gala were going on sale, sure to be, again, a sellout event.

I rushed home and meekly asked my husband if he would like to go.  It was going to be on his birthday, but sounded like loads of fun.  He agreed.  I booked two tickets and, later, realizing that my husband had never been to a fashion show, thought that he might want to be elsewhere on his birthday.  Good sport that he is, he did not bow out.

Looking at fibershed.com, and clicking around the website, which is one of the best I have seen, answered all my questions, and will answer yours too.  I won’t be redundant here, it would cheat you of information that you will want to see, and would deprive you of an experience that will add meaning and purpose to your life experience with fiber whether you produce fiber, spin, weave, knit or simply enjoy and drool over anything textile.  (I am in the last category).  The website also includes coverage of the fashion show, biographies of all people who designed or participated in some way, contact information, poetic stories from the fibershed (e.g., “Seaside Days of Dyes”, “Pokeberry Bliss”, “Whispers of a Gentle Species”…), fabulous photos and documentation, upcoming events, a Wool Inventory and Mapping Project (I love maps and graphs).  Seriously, it behooves you to take a look at fibershed.com right now.

The tented atrium at Jacuzzi Winery

The tented atrium at Jacuzzi Winery

Now the fashion show.  It was held at Jacuzzi Winery in Sonoma (you can Google that and see how lovely the venue is…a girlfriend of mine checked it out for a wedding; you don’t want to know how much the rental fee is!)  Jim and I arrived at 3.  Everything was in full swing.  Checking in was a breeze, and they tied a handspun locally grown bit of brown yarn to our wrists to indicate that we had paid (nice touch!).  Programs in hand, we circled the event, both vendors and guests were having a wonderful time, the music was just the right tempo, and every detail had been professionally attended to.

Vendor

Vendor

spinning

spinning

Dyeing

Dyeing

 

 

 

In the tented and heated courtyard were a variety of vendors selling a wide variety of handmade clothing and accessories:  wedding dresses, corsets,  nuno felted shirts in a yurt, eco-friendly gifts of all kinds and price ranges, 100% angora fingerless gloves that were as soft as a bunny, silk, linen, cotton, I couldn’t stop touching everything…All of the vendors are listed on the website, and I recommend that you check them out, their work and their stories are so inspiring.

Fashions

Fashions

More fashions

More fashions

#5

#5

 

As you will see with the accompanying photos, and I hope you agree that a picture is worth a thousand words, the runway garments were innovative and given that the requirement that they be locally grown and made, represented a year or more of work on each.  The room was packed (standing room only).  The runway was lined with wool from a variety of sheep, punctuated with vases of cotton branches in various colors.  It gave a natural translation of Paris runways lined with bright lights.  Each designer was announced, the model was showcased with an image on the slide backdrop, and music chosen by the designer.  Because it changed with each look, it was a bit disconcerting, but it defined the different aesthetics and mood choices of the designers.   My favorite was “Look 5”  “Wool Warrior of Love”, incorporating design and architecture and felted at the Valley Ford Mercantile and Wool Mill.  This floor length dress is made to order, estimated price $1750).  The model rocked her gown, and the crowd loved it.  The fashion show had 11 looks total, and all are described in great detail on the fibershed.com website.  The food was sumptuous and creative, with plenty of selections for herbivores, omnivores and carnivores.  Local handcrafted cheeses, an interesting pesto made with nettles, a dessert table that was overflowing.  It was literally impossible to taste everything, I did try.  Of course they gave everyone a small cotton (6”square”) napkin, reusable, and really that’s all one needs, and “real plates and glasses”.   Great wine, wonderful Kombucha (my first taste of the stuff, and now we have some in our refrigerator!).

The entire event was magnificent from start to finish.  My husband was truly amazed, and I was happy that I had absolutely nothing to apologize for at the end of the event.  We felt that we had celebrated with a community who had grown their cause from the roots up, had succeeded with a splash, and we had a good birthday celebration too!  It was extraordinarily heartwarming to be a part of it all.  Make sure you put this on your calendars for next year!

I would recommend to all the guilds in CNCH to invite Rebecca to give you a presentation.  Her ideas are in the hearts of all of us.

Click here for the next article