Tuesday, January 26, 2010

For an education in vintage, shop Treasury

For an education in vintage, one only has to turn to Treasury. The Logan Circle boutique covers the spectrum of fashion’s most celebrated to lesser-known designers thanks to owners Katerina Herodotou and Cathy Chung’s keen eye. The fashion historians carry clothing, shoes and accessories as early as the turn of the century to the 80s, all sourced from private collections and estate sales.

Herodotou and Chung’s vintage repertoire culminated in 2007 with Listopad, the name of their traveling collection sold at venues across the district akin to trunk shows. The duo opened their brick and mortar on 14th Street NW in July 2009.

So, what is considered vintage? For starters, its age: a garment/accessory 20 years or older. Secondly, it’s status as a one-of-a-kind. But it is more than a time period, Herodotou cautions, “it is a feel.” Herodotou describes her own style in terms of an era’s best fashionable moments: 70s earthy elements, the 50s tailored suiting, and the 30s classics.

Thirdly, vintage is inherently a sustainable product, a virtue Herodotou supports. “Eco-fabrics are wonderful, but they still use new resources and create waste,” explains Herodotou. “Vintage doesn’t require new resources, it is already made and often lasts longer.”

Herodotou, 25, and Chung, 32, demonstrated their environmental stewardship by remodeling the second floor space with salvaged materials from Community Forklift, a Hyattsville-based thrift store for building materials. Treasury’s charm rests in the rustic d├ęcor and wooden-framed encased jewelry displays complimenting the exposed brick walls and soft lighting.

Treasury not only excels in reversing time but also enlightens its clients on how to wear vintage in the present and future. Now that’s a sustainable model.

Upcoming store event: “Music For Lovers” – the unveiling of Lithics by Treasury, an exclusive custom line of metal rings produced by Treasury from vintage casts. Local DJs Kim and Sara (Kicks!, Black Cat) will set the tempo for the party. Saturday, January 30, 2010 from 1 – 4 p.m.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Upstairs on 7th grounded by earthy collection

Upstairs on 7th is one of those boutiques that move you. Grounded by a collection of earthy clothing, it appeals to the woman who needs her clothes to either propel her or ease her through the day.

The upscale boutique offers a myriad of international and national designers who speak the same language of comfort chic. Perhaps that is why its demographic resonates with the Washingtonian professional who wants to relax on the weekends in a loose-fitting knit sweater by Dress to Kill, a “fits every figure” Butter by Nadia dress, or floor-grazing tunic by Planet.

While not all apparel and accessories are produced with alternative materials save the faux-leather Buddha Bags, owner Ricki Peltzman has introduced her clients to independent designers who produce “slow fashion” (small volume and laborious craftsmanship) goods in shades of white and black. The pop of color aided by handbags, jewelry, and belts.

“I love that there are eco-friendly garments and accessories, but they must be interesting first and foremost,” Peltzman says. “We’ve had products made from bamboo and we had at one point sold accessories made completely out of soda bottles and caps.” Peltzman’s most recent commitment to going “green” has been switching to recycled paper shopping bags.

The store’s location has equally been on the move until it landed in the lobby of an office building in downtown Washington last summer. Prior locations included space at two area art galleries – an indication of Peltzman’s aesthetic for wearable art. To access the store on a weekend, it is advised to walk through the Potbelly’s on 11th Street NW and exit the back door, turn left and a few feet ahead is the store, where Peltzman invites you to rest a minute on the comfy chairs and offers a glass champagne before you peruse the collection. Just as down to earth as can be.

Until January 31, selected items are up to 40% off – a bargain that won’t be resurrected until July (two sales per year). While at the register, put your savings into the “Charity bowl”, a donation drive benefiting a different charity each month.

Save the Date: February 27, 2010; 12 – 5 p.m. Jewelry designer Justin Giunta stops by to talk about his new lower-priced line, Deviated. Proceeds from the line benefits the SOHO (Space of Her Own) program.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

MSL Client Appreciation/Support Local Fete, Dec. 8, 2009

How does MSL thank their clients, colleagues, and friends for years of support? With a fete, bien sur! We returned to our favorite shoe store, Carbon (a perfect stand-in for a European discotheque sans the disco ball), to treat guests to a fashion show, wine tasting, and store-wide discount. The fashion show featured six local models donning styles fitting for "The Office," "Saturday Errands," and "Holiday Soiree." Redeem boutique graciously loaned the clothes and CG Originals and Carbon completed the ensembles with accessories and shoes, respectively. Here are a few pictures from the fabulous event and be sure to view our images from this fashion show and others on our Portfolio Web page. Read GWFCC's great coverage of the event, here.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! We hope to see you at future events and please remember MSL for signature looks!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Melissa Lew green jewelry Part 2

Melissa Lew, 27, is a local jewelry designer among other talents in art and photography. She is the recipient of numerous competitions for her use of recycled fine silver and bamboo.

The following is part 2 of a recent two-part interview.

KL: Is each piece unique or do you create multiples of the same design?
ML: While I do create multiples of some of my work (i.e. bamboo tile pendants), each piece of silver jewelry I create is unique because nothing is cast. There are no patterns to follow; I hand carve each one individually.

KL: Why is it important to you to use alternative materials?
ML: Because with each piece I create, it is one less thing that ends up in a landfill. It's taking something that was considered trash and turning it into something that someone can love and wear. It also raises awareness, and I love it when customers ask questions about the materials when I'm at art shows/events.

KL: Do you consider yourself an "eco" or "green" jewelry designer?

ML: Yes, most definitely. Not only do I use eco-friendly materials such as recycled fine silver and bamboo, but I also steer away from using chemicals as much as possible. For example, I love adding patinas to my silver work and most artists use a chemical called Liver of Sulfur to tarnish their silver. I don't - it smells horrible and is a hazardous material for both transport and disposal. I use a boiled egg! The sulfur in the yolk is enough to tarnish silver within hours. Liver of Sulfur is instant, but I don't think it's worth using. I'd rather wait! I also use linen or recycled boxes to package my recycled fine silver work, and reusable tins for my bamboo pendants. Linen comes from the flax plant and takes very little chemical fertilizer and MUCH less water than cotton to cultivate; once the fiber has been extracted from the plant, the rest of the plant is used to make other goods such as soap, cosmetics, inks, etc. Nothing goes to waste.

KL: Your jewelry truly captures the spirit of nature, where does that come from?

ML: My design aesthetic is organic, modern, and deeply rooted in my Chinese heritage, especially the culture's deep respect and esteem for nature. I love flowers, especially cherry blossoms.

KL: How is working with alternative materials different from conventional materials?
ML: Because I work with the fine silver clays, I feel like I have more freedom to work organically. I can get a lot more detail into my cherry blossoms. I'm not restricted by hard/harsh metals. Other than that, it's not really different!

KL: How do you personally lead a "green" lifestyle?
ML: By day, I'm a graphic designer for an engineering firm that specializes in sustainable, green engineering solutions. It starts with the little things - like watching paper waste, recycling, and considering green alternatives (no lamination, 100% recyclable paper, linen binders, etc). My husband and I also purchased a home close to our employers and I drive a fuel efficient car. And then there are the small things at home - like using reusable lunch containers and those nifty Nalgene bottles. Going green really makes you think about your choices/decisions.

Part 1 posted on 1/2/10

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Melissa Lew’s green jewelry springs into full blossom (Part 1)

Melissa Lew’s jewelry springs into full blossom in an upcoming collection honoring the Chinese symbol of dominance and strength, the Cherry Blossom flower. The designer draws upon her Chinese heritage for inspiration in her collection of eco-sound jewelry.

In a recent two-part interview, the designer shares what being a “green” jewelry designer means and living “green.” She says she launched her line (2005) after acknowledging an affection for working with her hands. Lew returned to her love for sculpture and began to design pendants and bracelets using recycled fine silver and bamboo. Her collection is sold at DEKKA Showroom and online.
Part 2 of this interview will be posted 1/4/2010

KL: When did you add "wearable art" to your resume?
ML: After finishing my thesis in 2005 (a series of artist books and scrolls about women’s rights in China), I started researching other materials that could be used to create artist books. I discovered recycled fine silver, and fell in love with it! I am a self-taught jewelry designer (I earned a Bachelor of Arts from George Mason University in Art and Visual Technology, with a concentration in Digital Arts in 2005), but have loved beads, shiny components, and anything jewelry related since childhood (what can I say, I’m a magpie!).

KL: Why did you decide to use alternative materials in your design?
ML: I am a researcher by heart; I love to read, I love to learn new things, so I was interested in finding alternatives to the traditional mined metals and gemstones. I guess you could say, my aesthetic is by no means traditional and I wanted to be able to create wearable art that I had never seen before. When I discovered the recycled fine silver, it was a no brainer for me. The fine silver I use was doomed to become trash – and it appealed to me that I could take something someone else thought was trash and turn it into a work of art that people could admire and cherish. Trash into treasure. I definitely design with the alternative material in mind.

KL: What materials do you work with and why?
ML: I mainly work with recycled fine silver and bamboo.
The recycled fine silver I work with comes in a clay format – fine silver particles (taken from disposed photograph development solution) mixed with a clay organic binder. I come from a fine arts background (with sculpture experience), so I feel especially comfortable working with the clay. I sculpt each one of my pieces individually and after they dry, I kiln fire them – this is where all of the organic binder is burned away and the fine silver particles are fused together. After the pieces cool down, I shape, polish, and finish them.
I love working with bamboo because it is such a sustainable plant (there’s an abundance of this plant worldwide) and because of it’s beautiful rich amber color. I also incorporate my ink paintings into my jewelry, and the bamboo’s natural color lends itself beautifully to my work (like an aged Chinese painting).

KL: Where do you buy your materials?
ML: Mostly online; unfortunately, because these are not “traditional” materials, they are not readily available in the area. I have not mastered the art of drying my own bamboo – yet!

Where to find?

DEKKA Showroom – 1338 U Street NW, 2nd Fl
Balston Farmer’s Market - May – October
Crystal Couture fashion expo on Feb. 5

Part 2 of this interview will be posted 1/4/2010