The Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities’ Green is the New Black fashion show is one of the biggest events of the year for the valley, and for the third year, 17-year-old Chloe Brand will have her own line in it.
The Roaring Fork High School junior has been sewing and making her own clothes since she was a little girl, and this year she will have six outfits in the fashion show.
Brand told the Post Independent about how she became interested in sewing, what she loves about it and where she’s going from here.
Post Independent: When did you start getting interested in fashion and design?
Chloe Brand: I’ve liked sewing as long as I can remember. When I was little, my mom would let me help her on the sewing machine, and I thought it was cool. My grandma sewed a lot, too; every year during elementary school, she would call us and ask what we wanted to be for Halloween and make the costumes and send them to us. I always thought it would be so cool to be able to sew like her.
I went to Waldorf School from kindergarten to 6th grade, and we were always sewing for handwork projects, so I’ve been hand sewing since I was about 6. Once I transferred to Carbondale Middle School in 6th grade, I got into a sewing class after school where I really started working on machines and making clothes. I loved being able to create my own things, my own ideas. I wasn’t much for keeping up with the “trends,” but sewing was fun and interesting and kind of calming. I could walk into the sewing room after any kind of day and just sew — make whatever I wanted, with whatever I had, and it wasn’t like anything any of my friends were doing in art class or anywhere else. During the spring, all my friends were playing soccer or running track, and I was sewing; it was my special thing.
PI: Do you remember the first piece you finished, from idea to reality?
CB: Spring of 2011 (7th grade — I was 13) CCAH gave kids about half an hour of their annual Green is the New Black Fashion Show, and my sewing class showcased a few pieces per person. I had two pieces, modeled by two of my friends. I honestly cannot remember what I made, though. That spring I also made a dress with a navy blue top and a light blue, sort of spongy print skirt that laced up in the back. Now that I think about it, it was very simple, easy, but I was so proud of myself for making it without a sketch or a pattern.
PI: Are there organizations in the valley that helped you grow as a designer?
CB: Carbondale Middle School had an after school program called Second Shift, which my sewing class was through. In 2011 CCAH gave us a piece of their fashion show, and every year since they have funded and supported a full kids fashion and talent show — all of which I’ve had a line in (four to six pieces). They have also helped me to get my designs shown as a line of my own in the adult show, Green is the New Black. Amy Kimberly [executive director of the CCAH] has been very supportive of my ideas, and Laura Stover [director of design and marketing at the CCAH] has given me a ton of advice on making my lines cohesive and fit each year’s themes.
PI: How many times have you had work in Green is the New Black? Tell me about your line this year.
CB: This will be the third year I’ve had a line in the Green is the New Black show. The first year I only had four outfits, all made out of reused material — I love to use old sheets, T-shirts and sailcloth. I grew up sailing with my family, and it’s one of my favorite things to do, so making things out of sail is kind of a cool way for me to connect special parts of my life. I draw on a lot of my pieces, and the sail is a wonderful background for that.
Last year I had six outfits in the show, and I modeled in the show as well. This year is the same. I mostly make skirts with short tops or dresses, but I’ve recently been playing around with pants as well — though they won’t be in the show. All the skirts in my line are sail with black pen drawings on them or a dash of some other color fabric. Almost all of the tops have sail in them as well and are usually tied, laced or snapped together — I’m a huge fan of snaps and grommets.
PI: Now that you’ve been doing it for a while, what is it that you love about designing?
CB: Oh gosh, I don’t know. I really like just seeing what I can make out of what I have. Most of my fabric is donated, or from local thrift stores, or just old clothes I have that I don’t wear anymore and my little sister doesn’t want. So it’s really cool to see what I can make out of random pieces I find in the house or some old shirt. I also just really like the process. I’m always learning from my mistakes and trying new things to see what works or what I like better.
PI: What other art forms do you work in?
CB: I do a lot of art through school. I really like to draw, I’m really into zentangles — very small, random patterns combined with a bunch of other random tiny patterns, often inside a set form or silhouette shape. But I really like realistic drawing and painting. I’ve been doing a lot with water colors this year, but I really like palette knife with oil paint, too. I’m taking art 4 because of how my schedule worked out, so I get a lot of freedom in my mediums and projects, and it’s really fun. I also took ceramics first semester, and jewelry this semester, so I’m playing with a lot of 3-D stuff as well, which will be really helpful for my AP Studio Art portfolio next year if I want to include my designs.
PI: Do you think you’ll continue working in fashion?
CB: I would love to. I’ve been looking at art and design colleges, hoping to major in fashion design.
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