Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interview with Deirdre Nagayama of Curator

Stacy Rodgers and Deirdre Nagayama are best friends and designers at Curator, a San Francisco based clothing line that specializes in “the pieces that are first in and out of the laundry basket.” Known for hardworking fabrics and easy to wear cuts, Curator is the stylish solution to fill those holes in your wardrobe and turn heads. Established in 2001, Curator added a retail space in the fall 2009 in the Upper Noe district of San Francisco. I had a quick chat with Deirdre of Curator and learned more about her inventive fashion line.

Lena Tunic $110

How did you you two meet? Did you “click” instantly?

Stacy and I met when we were 16 on the soccer field practicing for our high school team. Our team was pretty bad news bearsey, but we discovered that we ran at the exact same pace (ahead of the pack). We were friends ever after. We ended up picking the same college in San Diego and grew very close being in So. Cal together.

Nora Skirt  $149

What inspires your designs? Can you take us through the collaboration process?

We look to find pieces we can both wear comfortably and work hard in. We’re far from the fit model body types, we look for clothes that fit our shapes well. If we can both rock it we figure we’re hitting a bigger cross section of people.

Curator is designed to “fill [the] voids within our own wardrobes.” So what’s on your fall wardrobe list?

California really needs a rain dance! I’m looking for new boots, high waisted pants of all forms, our striped tops with sleeves rolled up, denim on denim on denim (lena tunic with skinnies), cozy wool oversized sweaters. It’s been dry and hot in my area for so long I feel like I almost forgot how to take on winter.

“If we can both rock it we figure we’re hitting a bigger cross section of people.”

Phoebe Boatneck, available in navy & white $63

In 2009, you opened up a retail location. How has this changed the name of the game for Curator (if at all)?

Opening the retail location was a survival move. 2009 was pretty grim for independent fashion lines, lots of stores were closing and we figured we should try our hands at retail to get off the sell 6 months ahead track. Our store is TINY, I harken it to walking into someone’s closet, one at a time. 4 people at a time is sensory overload! We make it work, it’s small and manageable for us and we love watching ladies try on clothes. Talking to them about what fits, getting the first reads of the line when it comes out. It really helps our design process, our customers definitely inform and contribute to the work.

What makes a stylish person in your opinion?

Staying true to yourself and what you like even when others try to shoot you down. We all notice trends but having a sense of what looks good on your own body type and staying the course with it. Lately I’ve noticed that many women dress for their partners, and while I do care if my husband thinks I look good, it’s my style and I control it. We have a husband bench at the store and it’s not a coincidence that its outside. I try to stay true to my mom’s genius policy…when I was growing up and wearing CRAZY vintage outfits, she would not say a word about how I looked unless I asked. I would saunter past her and if I said what do you think of this mechanic suit and turban mom? She would shoot me straight but I also knew if I didn’t want her input I didn’t have to ask. This gave me a lot of confidence to roll out and explore my style. I rarely asked. As a mom I already practice this policy.

What has been your biggest obstacle and boon as a designers?

They’re are a LOT of obstacles in our field. It can be a David & Goliath choice of a career. Fabric minimums can be a real obstacle at times, and cash flow when you have to put up a lot of money to make goods for future orders. It’s the stuff TMJ is made of. :-). The internet has been a gift for us to be able to direct sell to our customers….

What is your favorite thing in your collection right now? Why?

My favorite piece in the collection right now is the lena tunic. It covers all the bases, denim, long over tush and belly so I can wear skinny pants. I feel like I can really get some work done in that thing.

Images courtesy of Curator. Article by Elizabeth Aley 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Interview with Nancy Caten of NCbis

Nancy Caten is the designer and jeweler behind NCbis. A bay area native, Nancy creates her unique pieces in her San Francisco studio. Known for combining precious metals, rare and semi-precious stones, her work is influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement of the late 19th century, marked as “a reaction against the industrial revolution and the mass production of goods”.  Her work is unconventional - incorporating vintage materials with a decisively modern edge.

1. In college, an Art professor once told me “the creative part of being an Artist is making a living”. As a professional artist, what has been your recipe for success?

I consider myself a craftsperson, rather than an artist. What interests me most is the process of creation. The journey one takes to make the piece is what drives me, not always the end product. To be successful it’s necessary to take note of the ever changing fashion trends but not allow yourself to be overwhelmed by those constant shifts. You still need to find a place where your ideas and passions fit into the market.

2. Take us through your design process. Where do you find your inspiration when approaching a new design or collection?

I’m inspired by many diverse things. travel, music, nature and I also spend a lot of time in museums which are spiritual places for me. When it comes to designing a new collection I don’t do drawings. Instead I use more of a collage method, assembling different elements like a puzzle and discovering what fits organically.

3. On your website it says your designs are influenced by the “Arts & Crafts movement of the early 20th century”, can you elaborate?

The arts & crafts movement began in the late nineteenth century as a reaction against the industrial revolution and the mass production of goods. It honored quality craftsmanship of everyday products. My own goal is that each individual piece be designed and well crafted by hand. A personal touch invests the work with a human spirit that’s pleasing to me and hopefully to the wearer as well.

"The journey one takes to make the piece is what drives me, not always the end product."

4. Many of your pieces include vintage materials while maintaining a modern edge. How do the vintage materials tie into your designs? What do they signify?

Sometimes I use vintage french metal stampings from the late 1800’s or vintage Japanese and Czech beads but I assemble them using a contemporary silhouette and color palate. Repurposing and recycling materials is important to me. Each piece should have character and a life, and not be throw away adornment.

5. What has been your biggest obstacle and boon as a designer?

When you have a small design business the multitude of daily responsibilities can sometimes get in the way of the creative process. That’s when I know it’s time to visit an art gallery or take a trip to a new destination to refresh my vision.

Images courtesy of Nancy Caten. Article by Elizabeth Aley 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

James and Jezebelle Jewelry by Kathleen Doyle Murphy

My girlfriend, Kathleen Doyle Murphy, has been designing gorgeous jewelry for some time. Her line is James and Jezebelle and she resides in Boulder, CO. She has recently expanded her collection and was finally ready to branch outside of the Rockies (lucky us!). We are so excited to have her gorgeous pieces in the store soon. 

She uses unique semi precious stones that I have never seen. Her pieces are so one of a kind we are even building a special jewelry table to fit the entire collection. But don't worry! We are not going to wait for the table to be built, we are bringing these lovelies in next week. To see whats to come click the image below to be taken to our blog. 

Kathleen, thank you for thinking of Parallel first! :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Style in the Pearl Fashion Show 2014

Day two of Style in the Pearl promised to be the hottest in town and it delivered! In the middle of a summer heat wave, Style in the Pearl showcased fall trends just around the corner. 

Leanna NYC, Folly, Rachelle M, Mabel & Zora, Parallel with Pinkham Millinery and Physical Element all put on their best wares for the event. 

Parallel with Pinkham Millinery Hats: 

After the show participants shopped the runway looks and enjoyed the hot summer night - no doubt dreaming of cooler fall nights to come. 

Thanks to everyone that came to the event!

Images and Article by Elizabeth Aley.