Fibershed Fashion Gala
One of the projects I spent much of my time on this year was for non-profit Fibershed of San Geronimo, California. Fibershed is a cause, campaign, and organization set out to change how people clothe by supporting the creation of local textile cultures that enhance ecological balance, and utilize regional agriculture while strengthening local economies and communities. I was given the task to create a fashion event and fundraiser to present an array of garments made entirely in Northern California- from locally grown plant or animal fiber to designer (essentially farm-to-fashion). Discovering the abundance of our local resources was intensely inspiring. I knew this was something that needed to be introduced to a wider audience – especially after the recent tragedies in garment factories overseas. I hoped to bring a new perspective to the project and sought for looks that displayed a stylish and feasible alternative to fast fashion.
The first step in making the show a reality was connecting talented designers, seamstresses, pattern makers, dyers, weavers, knitters, and manufacturers, with farmers and ranchers. The goal was to keep the entire production of the garments within 150 mi. radius (creating a Northern California Fibershed), so we brought together fiber artists from the urban communities of San Francisco and Oakland, rural and forest communities of Mill Valley to Santa Rosa, and as far east as Yolo and Sacramento. In bridging the gaps between geographic vicinities, as well as young and old, a “community cloth” was being woven. From phone calls and texts, to letters and emails, to gatherings and trips to the farms we all began to map the source to locally grown fiber materials– but most importantly, created lasting relationships with amazing producers like organic color-grown cotton farmer Sally Fox and ethical animal fiber farmers (sheep, alpaca, angora, mohair) like Robin Lynde of Meridian Jacobs and Mary Pettis-Sarley of Twirl Yarn to name a few.
On the day of the event, we could not have asked for better weather, nor ambiance for our 250 guests. Hosted at the Jacuzzi Family Winery in Sonoma, CA, we opened the gala with a sustainable Parisian-style marketplace filled with lovely locally made garments and wares by designers like Myrrhia Fine Knitwear, Fennel Bridal, Vermeulen & Co., and HIJK; hand made body products from By Nieves; yarns by Twirl Yarn, Meridian Jacobs, and Foxfibre; housewares and accessories by Hiroko Kurihara Designs; hand blocked hats by O’Lover Hats; hand crafted shoes by Moxie Shoes, and much more! Beverages were being served up by REVIVE kombucha– who brought their entire bar of locally brewed buch, REBBL Tonic– delicious herbal tonic and tea infusions, and Thanksgiving Coffee– a local artisan coffee maker and distributor of organic NUMI teas. A raffle including two abundantly filled baskets of products that were “grown close to home” got the attention of many, while Kally Price and her band performed in the spirit of Billie Holiday. Spinning and wool carding demos were in full effect to expose attendees to a full fiber connection from soil-to-skin and the Fibershed Yurt stood proudly covered with felt panels made of local wool.
As the evening transitioned to the main event, guests were welcomed into a gorgeous barrel room that opened up to a predominant runway lined with wool grown from our surrounding farms. Sponsor and reserved tables were decorated with Capay Valley organically grown brown and white cotton stems and native dye plant arrangements along with lovely oak galls (natural dye tannins that create a rich gray/brown), as votives illuminated with beeswax candles set the mood.
A runway preview area gave guests their first introduction to the 150 mi garments (11 looks in total). And the silent auction began…
Meanwhile, a delicious spread of organic foods (catered by Isa) were being served- all sourced locally from farms and ranches within our Fibershed. The menu included lamb from True Grass Farms, cooked with pomegranates, and served over farro from Canvas Ranch or California rice. Vegetables included kale crunchies; a cornucopia of heart beets (loved the pun!), roasted rutabaga, parsnips, golden carrots; watermelon radish ribbons & carrot threads. For dessert, guests enjoyed amagaki persimmon with arugula and parmigiano, gleaned persimmon pudding, and buche de noel. Throughout the nosh, a superb selection of Jacuzzi Family Vineyard wines were enjoyed by many.
Founder of Fibershed and author of “Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes”, Rebecca Burgess, welcomed attendees to the gala as master of ceremonies while also introducing them to the farms, ranches, animals, and people that make up our fiber eco-system through her slide show presentation.
And then it was without futher ado that I introduced the next generation of Fibershed garments. I was very excited about the runway show as it allowed me to collaborate with 88:88 who came up with a beautiful soundtrack for each look that walked proudly down the catwalk. In addition to the gorgeous garments, the aural curation was accompanied by projected visuals of the California landscape (photographed by Paige Green Photography)- creating a full-circle connection with the geography, the animals, and humans who gave their energy towards each look:
Look 1: Designed by Amber Steinhauer; Modeled by Kaeli Wilmoth
• PANTS: high-waisted, tailored boot-cut flared pants, made of Foxfibre® organic color-grown cotton, French terry, size 8. (Estimated retail price: $450)
• TOP: long-sleeve basic base layer; made of 100% Cleaner Cotton™ lightweight jersey knit, from the LA Fibershed; size medium. (Estimated retail price: $80) (SOLD to highest bidder)
• NECK WARMER: hand-shaved, geometric pattern pelt neck warmer, made of Foxfibre® merino wool pelt, one size. (Estimated retail price: $200)
Minimum bid: $580
Look 2: Designed by Amy Keefer and Myrrhia Fine Knitwear, Modeled by Sarah Bloch
• JACKET: structured, yet cardigan-like jacket with functional on-seam pockets and zipper, made of Foxfibre® organic color-grown cotton, French terry, size 6-10. (Estimated retail price: $258)
• DRESS & SLIP: elegant pima cotton dress with clean simple lines is adorned with a polka dot pointelle lace fabric, made of Foxfibre® organic white cotton, size 6-10 (Estimated retail price: $248) + Naturally-dyed slip (Estimated retail price: $119)
• NECK COWL: hand knit colorwork in an edgy zebra pattern, made of Twirl Yarn in organic alpaca, wool and mohair, one size fits all. (Estimated retail price: $148)
Minimum bid: $600 (SOLD to highest bidder)
Look 3: Designed by Kacy Dapp, Sierra Reading and Moxie Shoes, Modeled by Geana Sieburger
The designers looked to the organized, yet also free form shapes and growth patterns of trees to create the lines for a wearable and functional look that could be dressed up or down.
• OPEN KNIT TANK AND BANDEAU: hand knit with Meridian Jacobs wool yarn and Foxfibre® organic color-grown cotton, French terry, size 6. (Estimated retail price: $240)
• TWILL MINISKIRT: hand woven with Yolo Wool Mill’s mohair/churro blend, and FoxFibre “black” merino wool, size 6. (Estimated retail price: $480)
• FINGERLESS GLOVES AND HAT: hand knit with 100% wool from Full Belly Farm (gloves), 100% wool from Foxfibre® and Bodega Pastures (hat), one size. (Estimated retail price: $240)
• OPEN-TOE CLOGS: Bull leather from Turkeysong, size 8. (Estimated retail price: $240)
Minimum bid: $950
Look 4: Designed by Vermeulen & Co. and O’Lover Hats, Modeled by Ray Boyle
Inspired by the 1930s, an era of revolutionary style. Tough economic times spurred innovation and day to evening dressing. It was a time when quality was king and people knew who made their garments. The skirt and jacket set are a lovely blend of form and function. The gored skirt sports a flirty hemline and uses a bias cut panel, popularized in the 30s, for an easy fit. The bold collar and large buttons on the jacket are also indicative of the time. The soft weave allows movement and provides a flattering silhouette. The enveloping cloche hat is inspired by easy, comfortable elegance, and incorporates draping and origami techniques.
• SKIRT AND JACKET SET: Foxfibre® organic color-grown cotton, woven by Adele Stafford, with horn buttons by Robin Lynde of Meridian Jacobs, size 4. (Estimated retail price: $872)
Minimum bid: $700 (SOLD to highest bidder)
• CLOCHE HAT: made of Foxfibre® organic color-grown cotton, French terry; Foxfibre® organic color-grown cotton woven by Adele Stafford; and Horn Buttons by Robin Lynde; size medium with stretch. (Estimated retail price: $325)
Minimum bid: $250 (SOLD to highest bidder)
Look 5: Designed by Hiroko Kurihara Designs and Sabrina Fair, Modeled by Daphne Laurels
“Wool Warrior in Love” represents the 1930s ushering in of the modern era in design and architecture. Our twisted, angular design uses a ¼-inch of wool batting, felted by Casey and 10,000 needles at Valley Ford Mercantile and Wool Mill, as a natural neoprene, sculpting a figure of persistence, resilience and modularity. The wearer conveys the simplicity, complexity, and durability of nature, and she becomes the Warrior of lovingly restoring the real.
• WOOL WARRIOR DRESS: 100% natural wool felt from Arianna Strozzi’s Valley Ford Mercantile & Wool Mill, paired with 100% eco-certified boiled wool knit, size 4-8, shown and made to order. (Estimated retail price: $1750)
Minimum bid: $1500 (SOLD to highest bidder)
Look 6: Designed by Leslie Marie Chanel and Monica Paz Soldan, Modeled by Vanessa Brigitte Whatley
• CONCEPT CAPE: (that can double as a skirt) Foxfibre® fleece fabric, size 10-12 medium. (Estimated retail price: $200)
• KNITTED DRESS: Foxfibre® cotton and Bodega Pastures wool, size 10-12 medium. (Estimated retail price: $350)
Minimum bid: $450 (SOLD to highest bidder)
Look 7: Designed by Courtney Siperstein-Cook, Nika Ivanoff and Jenine Windeshausen, Modeled by Mary Langill
• PANTS: Foxfibre® organic cotton jersey; designed, eco dyed with oak gall and sewn by Courtney; size small. (Estimated retail price: $425)
• SHELL TOP: Fine merino wool from Merry Meadows Farm in Willits, CA, natural color, designed and hand felted by Nika, dyed by Jenine, size small. (Estimated retail price: $200)
Minimum bid: 500
• JACKET: Fine merino wool from Mendenhall Ranch, Loma Rica, CA, eco printed with eucalyptus leaves in onion skin dye bath; designed, hand felted, eco printed and dyed by Jenine; size small. (Estimated retail price: $900)
Minimum bid: $720
Look 8: Designed by Shari Schopp, Meredith Buck and Marlie de Swart, Modeled by Lauren Ortega
• SHAWL COLLAR JACKET: ¾ sleeves with crochet cuffs, center front button closure with knitted belt, center back shawl collar is wet felted and front welt pockets. Robin Lynde wove the shawl with other pieces woven and felted by Shari. The crochet cuffs by Cindy Chow and the knitted belt by Marlie de Swart. All materials are from Meridian Jacobs Farm. Lining made of 100% Cleaner Cotton™ lightweight jersey knit, from the LA Fibershed. Buttons are black tail deer antlers by Robin Lynde. Designed and made by Shari Schopp, size 4 – 6. (Estimated retail price: $495)
Minimum bid: $400
• DRESS: Two-layered organic Foxfibre® cotton, hand loomed, stitched and embroidered with Twirl wool. Designed and made by Meredith Buck and Marlie de Swart, size 8. (Estimated retail price: $295)
Minimum bid: $230
• Purse and necklace (not for auction): Made from brain tanned buck skin, Twirl wool, abalone, black tail deer antler. Designed and made by Meredith Buck.
• Shoes (not for auction): Local wood with split cow-hide leather from Barta Leather in Petaluma. Designed and made by Shari Schopp. The wood was carved by local craftsman Paul Mills of Sebastopol. Sizes 7 and 8.
Look 9: Designed by Babbs Cowan, Elvira Didoni, Heidi Iverson and Hilary Heaviside; Modeled by Lena Eastes
Inspiration gathered from the garments worn by 1930’s orphan children
• TUNIC DRESS: Twirl naturally colored wool yarn, size medium. (Estimated retail price: $700) (SOLD to highest bidder)
• SLIP: 100% Cleaner Cotton™ lightweight jersey knit, from the LA Fibershed, size medium. (Estimated retail price: $45)
Minimum bid: $600 (SOLD to highest bidder)
Look 10: Designed by Babbs Cowan, Elvira Didoni, Heidi Iverson and Hilary Heaviside; Modeled by Lucia Magee
• BLOUSE: Foxfibre® color-grown organic cotton; 100% Cleaner Cotton™ lightweight jersey knit, from the LA Fibershed; size medium. (Estimated retail price: $80)
• CROP SWEATER: Twirl naturally colored wool, size small. (Estimated retail price: $500)
• TIE SKIRT: 100% Cleaner Cotton™ french terry knit, from the LA Fibershed; size medium/large. (Estimated retail price: $120)
Minimum bid: $550
Look 11: Designed by The Moon Oakland and Myrrhia Fine Knitwear; Modeled by Margaux Stancil
• WINTER WEDDING GOWN: forgiving, form-hugging body with structural yet delicate knit petals; Twirl Yarn wool/alpaca/mohair blend in sweet magnolia color; size 4-6. (Estimated retail price: $1160)
Minimum bid: $900
A Wool Felt Rug (12’ x 12’) was also up for auction with gorgeous branching designs- handmade of Fibershed wool. See how the rug was made here.
Through the collective energy of the artisans, the designers, the farmers, the organizers, the volunteers, the hosts, the vendors, and the attendees, a synergy was brought forth that created absolute magic. What began as a ritual celebrating the landscape in which we live, became a gathering to honor each piece of the puzzle making up a more healthy, ethical way to clothe.
Much gratitude to all who came together for this absolutely enchanting evening!
And a special thank you to Dustin Kahn- graphic designer and my main Fibershed contact throughout the entire planning of the Fibershed Fashion Gala.
volunteers: Alexandra Barisic, Alice Jones, Amy Frugard (runway hair/make-up), Armand Smith (video), Chris Rust, Daphne Laurels, Elaine Steenson, Emmanuel Peter, Geana Sieburger, Heidi Harris, Janis Anzalone, Jennifer Pellman, Jennymay Villarete (photography), Jodi Murphy, Kaeli Renee, Katharine Jolda, Lauren Barisic, Lauren Ortega, Lena Eastes, Lisa Mayhugh, Lucia Magee, Margaux Stancil, Martha Lightcap, Mary Langill, Miriam Dym, Miwa Smith, Monique deVos (Production Assistant), Phoebe Gillan (runway assistant), Randi Adair, Ray Boyle, Rita Parks, Sarah Bloch, Seth Boeckman (Production Assistant), Sheila Sagert, Susan Sullivan Maynard, Sylvi Alli, Vanessa Brigitte Whatley
Lorene Arey, Clara Fund
Buck Consulting Group
Ken and Kerry Keefe
Adastra Audio / adastraaudio.com
Andalou Naturals / andalou.com
Avatar Community Business Center / avatarbiz.com
Back to the Roots / backtotheroots.com
Barinaga Ranch / barinagaranch.com
Bellwether Farms / bellwetherfarms.com
Blue Bee Garden / facebook.com/BlueBeeGarden
Catering by Isa / firstname.lastname@example.org
Dandelion Chocolate / dandelionchocolate.com
Dharma Trading Company / dharmatrading.com
Ditto / dittohangers.com
Ecologique Fashion / ecologiquefashion.com
Earthbody / earthbody.net
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco / famsf.org
Green Home / Greenhome.com
Green String Farm / greenstringfarm.com
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards / jacuzziwines.com
Kind Healthy Snacks / kindsnacks.com
McEvoy Ranch / mcevoyranch.com
Numi Organic Tea / numitea.com
Oak Hill Farm / oakhillfarm.net
PACT / wearpact.com
Paul’s Produce / paulsproduce.me
Plait / plait-textiles.com
The Plum / plumorganicbeauty.com
Rebbl / rebbltonic.com
Revive / revivebrands.myshopify.com
Riverdog Farm / riverdogfarm.com
Thanksgiving Coffee / thanksgivingcoffee.com
Vapour Organic Beauty / vapourbeauty.com
Wine Country Party & Events / winecountryparty.com
Photos: Paige Green Photography