When I was around 10 I drew bathing suit outlines on a sheet of paper. My mom may or may not have made xerox copies for me, but I do remember having several sheets of empty bathing suits that I would then draw different designs on. Every year I would wait in anticipation of the JcPenny holiday catalog. You remember, the thick book that would replace one of the phone books as a booster seat for your younger sibling to sit at the table. I would look endlessly at the fashions and the models and try to plan my future around what was in it. Eventually I upgraded to watching Style with Elsa Klench, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and Awards programs just to be able to see what the world of fashion held for my imagination. I would sketch clothing designs and even my own future wedding dress ( Alas, I grew out of the mermaid look before high school was over.) I never had the money to buy the lavish furs and haute couture clothing, but I never stopped watching out for fashion trends and watching the red carpet pre-award shows. When the movie Mannequin came out in 1987, I was enamored with the idea of creating window displays. Gazing into a storefront window and getting lost in the story was such a delicious idea that both overwhelmed and excited me. (If I could pick a mannequin to come to life, now THAT would’ve been wonderful.)
Fast forward to about a month or two ago when a friend sent me a link, a call for artists to paint old mannequin torsos for a charity auction. The original concept fell through, instead ended up creating a window display that would pay homage to Baltimore’s once thriving garment district that is now almost non-existent. The buildings are still here but none of the bravado of the makers of umbrellas, hats, ties, suits, shoes, etc. So for my first piece I merged architectural elements and fashion. A very 1920s, end of the heyday look. I call her Gilda Blue.
We ended up having more torsos and hands so i took some more mannequin pieces home to paint.
This second torso design came from my art journal. And in these last few days before the window unveiling, Stacy talked me into adding pattern paper to it and I fell in love with the results. I call this one Sporty Renaissance.
The window may not have moving parts and glamorous furs and feathers, but it has parts, tells a story and brings the people walking on the sidewalk back to life.
But even better, my childhood dream came true. I helped in creating a window installation. Now i’m ready for the next one.
If you’re in Baltimore this Saturday, November 19, come to the Artist Soirée at 223 West Lexington (Sharp Dressed Man location), 6-9pm. The window display can be seen during the day through the gate, but you can get closer by going in and walking through it. Enjoy the installation and maybe see you there!
**For more information on Baltimore’s garment district, visit here: http://rotatinghistory.blogspot.com/2012/01/baltimore-garment-district-some-years.html
**An article the Baltimore Sun wrote on Philip Spector, owner of the last sew house in Baltimore: http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-bz-fashions-unlimited-adidas-20150912-story.html