Fashion & Beauty

It’s Smithsonian Craft2Wear Time!

September 10, 2019

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Some of what’s in store at Smithsonian Craft2Wear. From left to right: a whimsical porcelain creature from Cynthia Chuang, sparkly rings from Gabriel Ofiesh and not-your-everyday hat from Ignatius Creegan and Rod Givens. / Smithsonian Craft2Wear.

FALL IS my favorite season, and one of my favorite events happening in October (besides Halloween) is Smithsonian Craft2Wear.  From Oct. 3 through Oct. 5, at DC’s National Building Museum, the annual show and sale of original jewelry, clothing and accessories will feature 70 artists.  Some designers, such as Starr Hagenbring and Emma Villedrouin, will be returning, while 17 exhibitors will be making their first appearance. So, whether you want to update your wardrobe with a one-of-a-kind item of clothing or shop for gifts for the holidays, mark your calendars.

I’m looking forward to the return of Hagenbring, who says her work “is the continuing experimentation of painting, cutting, piecing and stitching fabrics into different patterns. The pieces are designed to be viewed 360 degrees, and with movement, to see half the garment is to see only half the story.”

New jackets from Starr Hagenbring make political statements. Left: Angels hover above silhouettes of machine guns. Right: If you had any doubt who the trickster was, look at the eyes at the hem of the jacket. / Smithsonian Craft2Wear.

New this year include a few politically charged pieces, like one emblazoned with the words “The Great Trickster,” another with silhouettes of machine guns on a burgundy background with names of locations of mass shootings embroidered on it.

A trio of Hagenbring bags. Left: Who doesn’t need a protective eyeball? Center: New Orleans chef bag. The chef holds an oyster shell with pearl, made from 1920s silver lace, and a crawfish.  Right: Are you a saint or a sinner? The bag gives you options.  / Photo by Starr Hagenbring.

Also this year she has introduced “Day of the Dead” tote bags, which, like the New Orleans chef bag, are based on characters familiar to Big Easy denizens, but can be appreciated by all.  (Hagenbring lives in New Orleans and helps run the eyewear store, Art & Eyes, with her partner, Paul.) Much of the lace on the bag is vintage, which is then topically painted and cut into shapes. The strap is adjustable and wide, and there’s a practical interior pocket. Chiffon scarves and shawls are a new addition to her repertoire, too. (A 60-inch long scarf sells for $150.)

Left: Emma Villedrouin’s Ella earrings combine pink tourmaline cabochons with precious pink sapphire slices and gold. Right: The Pinwheel Pendant is a staple of Villedrouin’s collection, the perfect thing with a white tee shirt. The type of pearl–from multicolor freshwater to baroque Akoyas–changes the character of the pendant. /Smithsonian Craft2Wear. 

I’m also a fan of jeweler Emma Villedrouin, who grew up in Haiti, lived in Brazil and is currently based in Tunis. Villedrouin’s aesthetic is influenced by the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, which admires beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.”  It explores the tension between roughness and sophistication, simplicity and opulence, irregularity and symmetry.  “I find a great deal of peace in creating tangible objects of value.  It satisfies the magpie in me to transform fine raw materials into talismans of a sort—touchstones for the wearer,” she says.

The Craft2Wear three-day event kicks off Thursday night, October 3, from 6 to 9pm, with an opening night benefit and preview party (tickets, $75, advance purchase only) Make it an evening: Meet the artists and be among the first to scoop up their creations, while you sip drinks and munch on hors d’oeuvres. For tickets, visit Smithsonian Craft2Wear ($75 each and includes a return ticket to the show on either Friday or Saturday).

Hours for the show Friday and Saturday are 10:30am to 5:30pm. Tickets: $15 at the door; $13 advanced purchase at Smithsonian Craft2Wear..

The National Building Museum is located at 401 F Street NW, 202-272-2448. (Directly across from the Metro Red Line, Judiciary Square Station, F Street Exit)


—Janet Kelly




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