My hands-down favorite clothing vendor at the ACC show was Teresa Maria Widuch.
Widuch makes jackets in wool felt and ultrasuede: simple, sculptural jackets with crisply cut raw edges of fabric stiff enough to stand up like paper. Indeed, at first glance one might have thought the booth held paper cut-outs of clothing. The colors were pure and vivid: fuchsia and citron, smooth, even colors that let the shapes stand out and highlighted the three-dimensional forms by emphasizing the cast shadows across the surfaces.
They look, at first glance, deceptively simple: a raglan sleeve here, a rounded collar there. But this is yet another instance where a “simple” look comes from a myriad of perfect details, all lined up to deceive the eye into reading the whole, “simplicity”, rather than each of the details on their own.
I’ve never seen anything like these. I’ve never seen anything constructed quite like them, either–the pieces are put together like sculpture, not like clothing. And there are no two alike. I don’t know how many I looked at (nearly every one there, I think) and each one offered a slightly different shape or variation from all the others. Some (like the red example, above) had an inner part that serves like a vest, under the opened petals of lapels. Many had asymmetrical collar lapels, wrapping differently on the left than on the right. Some had decorative design details cut out, some had toggles or closures and others just fall open smoothly. All of them are based on traditional jacket forms–blazer, kimono, cape, etc., but none is quite straightforward. This is a great example of how, crafty and clever as I might think I could be, I know that I could not duplicate this effect in my own workroom, for any amount of trying, at least not without spending far more for materials and effort than the finished jackets themselves cost. (You see, I’ve tried ultrasuede!) And I think it’s because I sew, myself, that I appreciate this all the more. Because I know where the seams usually go, on a blazer or jacket, that I notice how the traditional seams are moved or missing, and all the different variations Widuch has made to design a garment that looks like and yet nothing like what we expect from a jacket.
There’s something almost existential about these that I love. They’re sculptures: art pieces that comment on the “essence of jackets”, perhaps. Sculptures about clothing that double as actual, wearable clothing. And they’re quite chic when worn, as well: they have their own dimensionality and stand out and away from the body, and yet their shapes are as conscious of the shapes of human bodies that fill jackets as they are about jackets, and thanks to carefully angled darts and seams they look quite gracious when modeled.
One day, perhaps, when I return to buying clothing that other people have made, I may find that it takes something this dramatic, this chic to make it worth my while to go shopping. And wouldn’t this be a handsome acquisition, to a handmade wardrobe?