MUST SEE, TOUCH, WEAR: Isabel Wilson Collection & Interview

These past few weeks has been that special time in New York City that we all call FASHION WEEK that has somehow progressively gotten longer and become more and more intense in the past few years.  I sat this one out (happily!) as I am now a graduate student at Brown/RISD and am no longer local in NYC. There were however a few things that I missed out on that I felt pretty regretful about. One of them being Isabel Wilson‘s debut line presentation at ISA in Williamsburg, Brooklyn last week. If you haven’t seen Isabel’s work, definitely check out what she’s done in the past – her talent is remarkable. Isabel has made textiles for countless fashion houses, she makes beautiful paintings, prints, weavings and knits, she curates exhibitions like Sick Velvet Braid, Telephone and Be Loving, she just spills over with creative energy. Last year she developed REED, a line of accessories which is absolutely gorgeous – she even collaborated with Chen & Kai for some of the necklaces and prints. So naturally I was pretty disappointed to miss out on her presentation as her career takes an exciting new turn. Fortunately we can all now have a look at the beautiful look book images that Adam Kremer made, and eventually we can seek out her stockists! Isabel and I had a little chat about her new line and her process, which should be very interesting to all you textile designers out there who may be scheming to launch your own lines one day as well.

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Francesca Capone: I heard that your line presentation was beautiful, I was so disappointed I couldn’t be there. Would you describe how it was set and what the experience was like? 

Isabel Wilson: I decided to have the party at ISA because I loved how unique the event space was up there on the second floor. It is a sort of pieced together collage of beautiful bits of architecture & I thought it echoed a cut & paste aesthetic that Adam Kremer, the photographer for the look book, utilizes in his work. It reminded me of my old apartment in Williamsburg which I guess I was also drawn to. My friend Johnny works for Friends and Family & runs the event planning there so it worked out perfectly. Also the food downstairs is unreal which made for an incredible after party!

Arthur Gobillot designed & built the set. He decided to run with the water imagery & overall upstate vibe by uprooting a bunch of plants from my backyard in Mt. Tremper & transporting them here to Williamsburg. There are tons of white shelves in that room so he just filled them with plants. Using AstroTurf as a surface prop, he draped the sheets of grass onto pedestals & hung it in the air with fishing line. PEPPERCOTTON  jewelry was also suspended in the air & there were giant glowing glass orbs of almond milk all over the room & into the outside garden, which mimicked the prints in the collection, so as the sun went down the room began to glow a green glow.

Ian Horowitz made the shoes. We basically took the prints from the collection, printed them onto thick elastic & sewed them onto a very basic heel design. We are still working on the first sellable prototype & I think we are going to change the heel so that it is made out of wood instead of hard foam.

Michael Beharie did the music which was basically warm beats mixed up & tripped out to the point of unrecognizable origin, sort of how the prints ended up coming to fruition.

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FC: It’s been interesting watching your trajectory as a designer! It’s also very exciting, especially seeing what you’ve done in the past (painting, curating, Reed, etc), that you are moving into designing full collections. What made you move in that direction?

IW: I think my choice to design women’s RTW collections was a natural progression after designing textiles for so long for other clothing designers. It excites me because I can still do everything I love & have it be under one brand.

FC: What was your inspiration and your process for this first collection? Where did you start? 

IW: I started by making a few pieces for myself, creating clothing I always wished I could find, but never seemed to be able to.   The jacket is clean cut, 1 layer, yet super warm because of the boiled wool material. The pants are comfortable, but also slim in silhouette. Then I just used some of my favorite prints I designed over the last year & made a few garments for friends. There was such an overwhelming positive reaction, I thought, why not! I had all summer upstate to try out different silhouettes, different fabric designs, find the best digital printing factory & best tailor.

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FC: The prints are gorgeous — they are so prominent in the collection. Will you share a few words about your process in designing them?  

IW: There are 3 prints in the collection. The first print is actually a scanned dobby sample I made at RISD about 6 years ago. I scanned it in & rotated it out so it read like a subtle plaid.

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The other two prints are from photos I took of reflections on water. I have been researching & observing reflections onto bendable patterned surfaces for a few years now. The first photo I ever took of this & the print I ended up using in the collection was from visiting Xochimilco with PJ Rountree & Kenny Curran outside of Mexico city.

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There are all of these super brightly colored boats that you ride down the murky river & it made for a perfect setting for a super tripped out water reflection photo. The second more typical water reflection photo is taken from this pool that Tom and I always go to near our house upstate.  ((<—- ISABEL WILSON POOL DRAIN VIDEO ))

FC: Those images are really incredible – I love your process! Just this year you’ve made a big transition with moving from Brooklyn up to Woodstock. Has this change in landscape affected the way you work?

IW: I have definitely been able to focus on doing what I really want to do now that I have more time to myself up there.

FC: Time and space are so important, and hard to find in New York City — I can totally relate. Do you have any words of wisdom for emerging designers who are interested in pursuing a similar path?

IW: I sure am not wise but I do know that if you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain, I think Dolly Parton said that & I think that is great advice for anyone.

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Go to ISABELWILSON.US for more images of the collection. Thanks to Isabel & thanks to you all for reading!

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