Prior to the initial fitting, the designer shines as story artist while foretelling the visual narrative for her upcoming collaborative show, Immersion: A Fashionable Experience. The multi-media runway extravaganza is slated to be an upcycled retelling of the transformation from Ophelia’s death to rebirth in the spirit world through the healing power of Gaia. Over coffee in her comfortable studio, Stina relates her vision for the pivotal design, a gown to be worn by the leading character Gaia during the scene of transcendence.
Day 1 of Documentary Shot; Thursday July 7, 2011, 5:30-7PM:
Beginning the Fashion Design Process
Stina meets with model/actor Cindy Bowen to discuss their vision for the gown. The model is invited to request special details to reflect her Gaia character. For Gaia’s dress, Stina handpicked a garment for the foundation: a dreamy early 1980s prom dress. In this gesture, Stina reveals her significant talent for helping us remember our cherished past through meaningful redesign of treasured textiles served up in a less linear, more whimsical fashion.
After Cindy tries on the basic dress for size, Stina takes measurements and gives three-dimensional form to her idea for the garment by sculpting textiles on the live model. When Cindy suggests that leaves be depicted, Stina shows off a photo-printed custom fabric that she will use in the show that features a close shot of leafy ground cover from the Tennessee forest.
The Renegade Seamstress (shown throughout Day One in a denim design from her 2010 collection) sets about gingerly pinning her digitally-printed custom fabric (manufactured regionally by Spoonflower) to the dress bodice. The designer opts for wider, more modern straps before snipping off the original spaghetti ones. She plans the new straps to feel more comfortable and to better offset the garment weight during the duration of the runway show.
Finding inspiration in feminine turn-of-the-century details, Stina adds a flirty bustle from preloved materials. During the elaborate pinning process, the designer showcases her gentle hospitality as her studio becomes a sitting room abundant with heart talk on honoring the feminine through sewing and stories.
Over girl talk and gossip, Stina reveals that she mainly designs because she enjoys helping women know that they are beautiful and valuable. Believing every woman deserves to be an individual and at her most beautiful—and that every woman wants a dress no one else has—the designer sculpts personal stories in fiber and sets out to create the perfect dress for each woman.
Day 2 of Documentary Shoot; Thursday July 14, 2011, 5-6:30PM:
Sewing & Construction of the Dress
As day two of shooting unfolds, Stina stitches the new bodice. She works on her cherished sewing machine, a heavy duty Necchi Omega 6022.
The designer cuts straps directly from the fabric using measurements from Cindy's live modeling. The straps are made from her custom designed direct-to-garment printed fabric which was dyed and manufactured regionally to match her nature photography inspiration.
Stina discusses her intended design agenda for the day with Cindy before fitting the fresh straps on her and making adjustments to the bodice.
Cindy remarks, “ I like how you positioned the new dress straps asymmetrically. They’re remind me of forest trees.”
Taking into account shape and comfort, Stina drapes and pins a slightly squared and offset homemade-style bustle to the drop waist dress in a nod to the turn of the century designs that inform her theatrical sense of beauty.
While she works, Stina engages Cindy and praises her patience as the detailed fitting requires. Melinda takes note as Stina trims and pins the hemline of her dramatic, tiered bustle to the dress base.
Model Cindy Bowen blossoms as her character Gaia while posing barefoot outside the designer’s studio. This color study of Cindy in natural surroundings helps to prepare the designer, stylist, makeup artist, and photographer for next week's forthcoming photo shoot.
• Day 3 of Documentary Shoot; Sunday July 24, 2011, 6-8:30PM
Photoshoot of the Finished Dress on Location
Perched above the French Broad River, model Cindy Bowen recharges as Gaia in an ARTeries by Stina gown.True to character, Gaia summons strength from nature’s four elements—earth, fire, air, and water— to revive her.
Visualizing expanded joy, Gaia dissolves into the comfort of an absorbing silver maple multi-trunk tree bunch. "I chose this tree because it called us there. It was nine trees in one and the natural setting for Gaia." - Stina Andersen
Fast asleep in the protective tree hollow, Gaia summons negative ions to ease tension and recharge her energy. Awakening refreshed by the air circulating in the forest, mountains, and river, Gaia embraces the tree in delight.
Finding her right balance of play and purpose, Gaia contemplates the sacred energy of beauty and creativity. "Capturing the beauty of the dress was easy as Cindy's Gaia energy emanated through every textural stitch." - Stina Andersen
Swaying in dance mediation, Gaia delights in celebrating all she has given birth to and sustained through love.
Melinda Tennison's words were displayed in a visual map of the creative process with Bevin Coffee's photography. Bevin and Stina decided to keep the presentation raw so that the viewer would get a sense of the process of this collaboration. The three featured final photographs were mounted on leather hides that was also used for the Tree costume.