Recycle Runway Blog

Re-Visioning Erte Published: 03.13.2012 at 9:31 am by Nancy Judd

Last month I indulged myself in designing a new recycled fashion sculpture JUST FOR ME!  Though I love the way that some of my projects more structured parameters influence my garments, it felt luxurious to dive into the purely aesthetic experience of creating Re-visioning Erté!   I’d like to tell you about the three aspects of this piece that made it especially fun to create:

1.  Erté- For years I have been pouring over this incredible designer’s work. If you are not familiar with Erté, he was a Russian-born French artist who created very whimsical  designs, most notably during the art-deco period. Some of his designs were made into actual garments, but many were not, because they were often impossible to wear. You may have seen his illustrations in old Harper’s Bazar magazines– I have always been inspired by his fanciful creativity! Designing a garment inspired by Erté was pure pleasure!

2. Silk – After years of working with materials like shower curtains and convertible soft-tops, I yearned to work with natural fibers that flow and drape. I remembered that a long time ago my Mom gave me some beautiful silk scraps, leftover from a jacket she made for herself. While working on Re-visioning Erté I thoroughly enjoyed the feel of the silky material on my fingers and the lovely subtle colors.

However, the recycling bin is always close at hand, and I could not help but accent the front of the dress with aluminum cans cut into elegant little shapes and engraved with an old pen!

3.  Miniatures – You might not realize it from the photos, but this garment stands only 33 inches tall! For years all of my work has been full size and wearable, but recently I have enjoyed the freedom gained from taking these requirements away. For example, the cape on one of my pieces made last year called the Environmental Steward-ess, is bolted into the dress-form making it impossible to be worn.  Making miniature garments seemed like another interesting direction to explore. The dimensions of this dress-form are approximately one half of a woman’s size 10 form. I made it out of foam scraps left over from Astilli Fine Art Services, the business that crated my Obamanos Coat sent to the Smithsonian last year. (They are also going to crate 18 more pieces for my traveling exhibition’s upcoming museum tour– but that is another story, stay tuned.)

I wondered if creating a smaller fashion sculpture would take less time, and the answer is: yes, and no. The garment itself actually took about 55 hours to design and create because the unusual design required a lot of tinkering to get it just right. However since the dress was so small it did take less time to cut, prepare and sew all of the aluminum accents. (Thank you to Samantha Brody, my new intern from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, for helping to cut the aluminum cans.) My other garments have taken from 100-650 hours to complete, this piece took me about 100 fully enjoyable hours to create!

Re-visioning Erté will make its début this week at an exhibition called the Art of the Dress at the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, New Mexico. I was invited to participate in this show by Susan Berk the Chair of the Board of Directors for the New Mexico Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The exhibition will be on display from March 16 – April 15, 2012.

I look forward to seeing everyone’s response to my winter indulgence!

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