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wonders never cease Thursday, April 8, 2010

THURSDAY, APRIL 8th, 2010q + a for abigail glaum-lathbury

3083265574_7da65d1907_o_abigail-glaum-lathbury_1What better way to break the ice than some nosy questions? We'll introduce you to the designer in person next week as we team with The Washington Post's Fashion Washington to host a discussion of loads of intriguing design topics. Now, to whet your whistle, 10 questions & answers with Abigail Glaum-Lathbury:

AGL photo by akasha326_23_Random_electron_motion_in_metal9554021) What are some of your design inspirations?
Mostly my inspirations come from science and natural history. The spring collection is called Invention and the Obsolete, and is an investigation of sorts into early experiments in and the science behind electricity.

2) Can you address the inspiration behind several of the pieces in your current collection?
I have a particular fondness for graphs. Not the bar graphs, pie chart variety, but the beautiful linear graphs that chart things like the progress of an electron through different types of metal. I did a huge drawing of a similar type of chart and had it embroidered onto silk organza for the spring collection. Similarly I tried to mimic the angular jolting quality of still more graphs in pieces like the Tesla dress. Yes, that Tesla.

3) What’s the fashion world like in Chicago? How does it differ from other cities? (Did you grow up there?) Does Chicago as a city give you any particular inspiration?
Even though it’s probably part of my job to think about cities and their context in the fashion world, I find that I’m much more interested in the foods that different cities offer. I grew up in Philadelphia and have no reservations in saying that I miss a good soft pretzel from time to time. Chicago has an incredible array of neighborhoods where you can find anything from the best Vietnamese sandwich you’ve ever had to vegetarian soul food on the south side.

4) How many collections have you designed?
Seven, if you include the first small collection I did - inspired by bovine anatomy. (It featured an abundance of latex castings of beef tripe.)

5) Clearly, you're a reader. What are you reading right now? AND, do you have any favorite blogs you go to for inspiration, design or otherwise?
I am a huge fan of the New Yorker (I managed to find three in my bag the other day, which may also be a sign of a too large purse…), and a documentary junkie. I just watched an incredibly beautiful documentary about paper folding called “Between the Folds.” It gave me goose bumps - math and sculpture all in one film, I’m not sure it gets better than that.

6) How did you get into design? Were you always interested in making clothing?
I was initially intrigued by costume history. The construction is so much different then how modern clothes are put together, both in form and technique - it’s still something I find interesting today.

7) How do you see your distinctive design voice meshing with "trends"?
I’m actually no good at trends. When I am designing a collection, I try to focus only on my inspiration or concept. My work comes from a more pure place if I’m not worried about what colors et cetera are going to be “in” next resort season.

8 ) What sort of life do you envision your pieces having after they leave you?
A well-loved one. I had a customer once tell me that she hopes that her daughters will one day grow up and be able to love some of the pieces as much as she cherishes them. She sounded like the curator of an art collection – I really thought it was touching.

9) We've noticed you always have very cool footwear. What shoes are you wearing right now?
There is a shoe store in my neighborhood that only sells shoes imported from Italy. Mostly, their stock consists of varying styles of pointy or shiny (sometimes both), but every now and then they get in the most lovely pair of hand made, gorgeously constructed, old-school men’s style flats – and I think I buy almost every pair.
10) What's your craziest design moment?
I think the craziest thing would have to be working with models. Once, just chatting before a runway show, I asked one of the models I was working with how old she was. She said, “Do you want my real age, or my model age?” Apparently there was an eight-year difference between the two… It’s a wild industry. (And yes I have reservations about some of it.)


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