Sunday, May 8, 2011

Spring Fever

These are wildly creative days here at Gypsy Palace, where we just had our Post-Apocalyptic Circus fashion show at Seattle Fashion Week's Spring Trunk Show event. Over a dozen modern circus performers and models showed off the latest eco-fashion creations of designers Ahni Radvanyi and Jodi Meadows in an engaging Vaudeville-style performance. The event was well-attended and well-documented, so you can expect several articles about it in local publications, and many photos which will be posted here shortly. I will also be interviewing Ahni in the coming week so stay tuned for that. Be sure to check out the other events that Seattle Fashion Week is hosting.

The momentum of that show is carrying us forward into our next event (May 27th), another fashion performance at Tribal, a dance party produced by Starborne and hosted by the Rebar in downtown Seattle. Tribal is a monthly multi-media arts showcase with some of Seattle's best DJs, performers and visual artists. Be sure to mark your calendars for the last Friday of each month and check out some local talent. Gypsy Palace will be managing the fashion events at Tribal and posting in this blog to let you know what's coming up.

In the studio, we've got tutus made from vintage sari fabrics, tiny top hats and hair fascinators, hand-tailored formal jackets and gemstone cluster rings, all being dreamed up and created this week. Everything but the custom designs will be available in our Etsy Shop as it is made so please check back frequently. If you recently met designer Jodi Meadows at the trunk show event and you're interested in meeting to discuss a custom design order, please send an email to For ready-to-wear items available in Seattle, look for an announcement coming soon about where you can find Gypsy Palace clothing locally.

The best way to stay connected to Gypsy Palace is to Follow gypsypalace7 on Twitter

Thanks to all who came out to support us in our fashion show last weekend, we hope to see you again at future events.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

sneak preview of my Tribal Bling jewelry line for Spring 2011

I'm working on this piece right now:

and many more to come very soon, as i'm in full swing with the Tribal Bling. Natural materials mixed with edgy, chunky metals and vintage sparkly things. There will be cuffs, bracelets, statement necklaces, collars, hair accessories and earrings. I'm also working on some collaged boots and shoes, utility belts and handbags...and then, onto the clothing.

This piece has not gone up on Etsy just yet, I need to mess with it a bit more first. But do check back frequently as I will be posting new items daily.

Friday, March 4, 2011

to snip or not to snip: vintage dresses

Just as I am poised to enter the mainstream fashion market, a ripple of drama ensues over designers who hack up perfectly good vintage gowns to upcycle into new pieces. As it turns out, we're supposed to keep dresses from the 20's and 30's around in trunks and closets with mothballs until....until..... um, until they disintegrate and are then worthy of being made into new garments? 

Marisa Tomei, Anne Hathaway and Livia Firth in upcycled vintage at the Academy awards
I disagree. Though I do think that there ought to be a Smithsonian-type museum for apparel, to preserve iconic fashion and display it in a way that will inspire the most people. I personally have no issues with hacking up a vintage piece (obviously, see my photos) and in fact, I consider it therapeutic because it forces us to challenge our attachments to sentimental things. The reality is, stuff is stuff. Fabric is fabric. Ashes to ashes, you know the deal. Fashion is temporal, and this controversy will fade away like Imitation of Christ and be long forgotten, while designers will move onto the next big thing. I will continue to destroy beautiful things, laughing with every snip and shred.

very, very vintage gown upcycled by Gypsy Palace

I welcome comments on this topic and value everyone's opinion. I am also discussing this on my Facebook page, so please join us there if you prefer.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pop-up shops all the rage in London and now in the U.S.

Oh, where have our attention spans gone? If it's not immediate, in our faces, drive-thru, grab-n-go, we're onto the next thing. And yet, the pleasure of lingering over delicate treasures, languishing in our shopping experience pervades. We want it all, and we want it now.

Enter the Pop-up shop, a temporal marketplace that crops up like tender chamomile between the sidewalk cracks, then disappears with the scuffing of so many busy feet.

Decades in SOHO, NYC

Wikipedia's description of the Pop-up shop:
A pop-up retail space is a venue that is temporary — the space could be a sample sale one day and host a private cocktail party the next evening. The trend involves “popping-up” one day, then disappearing anywhere from one day to several weeks later. These stores, while small and temporary, can build up buzz by consumer exposure. Pop-up retail allows a company to create a unique environment that engages their customers, as well as generates a feeling of relevance and interactivity. They are often used by marketers for seasonal items such as Halloween costumes[1], Christmas gifts, or fireworks.

The term is often applied to stores offering items of apparel, where the store is intended less to transact profitable sales than to promote demand for the goods and thereby produce profitable business at other locations, or in modes other than walk-in stores.
Here is another article about Pop-up shops from, "Pop-up Retail"

Gypsy Palace was part of a group of designers who showed in a Pop-up shop called The Art Shop in December 2009 and April 2010. Rebecca DeVere, a Kirkland, WA painter and jewelry designer, started the Art Shop with a handful of other local artists and ran a series of temporary galleries on Seattle's eastside. The group rented out a vacant retail space in a high traffic area for a period of 10-14 days and attracted as much attention as possible with a flamboyant opening reception and colorful signage. Gypsy Palace was showcased in trunk-show format at the first location, and as a vendor in the second.

Gypsy Palace at The Art Shop in Kirkland, WA, Dec. 2009
This was the first appearance by Gypsy Palace since the boutique closed in 2007. A little history on the boutique: It was known upon moving in (2006) that the building was slated for demolition and redevelopment in less than a year. Gypsy Palace was essentially a pop-up shop, having made its only other appearances at festivals and craft fairs prior to being established as a brick-and-mortar business. I went ahead and opened regardless of the temporary location as a way of gauging interest and with the intention of moving to a new location if things went well. It was quite an investment to make in a short-term business opportunity, but all experiments are worth doing--knowledge gained along the way is priceless. People in the Eastlake neighborhood were left wondering where that cute little boutique with the great coffee went. After spending a year living in a store, surviving on lattes and stale cookies, having my children visit me there because I hardly came home anymore, I decided there had to be another way to present my work to the world. Given my personality, lifestyle and work habits, a long-term, everyday retail commitment just doesn't work. The pop-up shop model totally does. In fact, there is a pop-up shop in my living room right now! If you live in the Seattle area, please contact me if you would like to visit the new Gypsy Palace boutique showroom in Kirkland. I am looking into the possibility of doing a pop-up shop of repurposed/recycled wearable art in the near future as well. Please follow this blog or on Twitter to stay updated.

Here are some photos of pop-up shops from other parts of the world:

Ksubi pop-up shop in Melbourne

Radar Redux in Baltimore

 Patch NYC 

I learned as a designer running a retail business that keeping up with the demands of business operation leaves no time to do what creative people love doing the most--creating. Gypsy Palace has been reborn, operating as a showroom, internet retailer and fashion line available in select boutiques. As lead designer, I can now spend my time at home with my children, working on new jewelry and clothing and connecting with other eco-fashion designers around the world. The pop-up shop model is exactly what Gypsy Palace is about: resourcefulness, willingness to evolve, and mobility. Forget the flagship, this is a Gypsy wagon. Catch us if you can!

Friday, February 4, 2011

fabulous new website on the way

 It's taken me a long time to get to this point, but i am finally tackling the major overhaul of the Gypsy Palace website. For now, please use this blog as your point of entry and check back soon for more photos and news about what's being created this spring. I am excited to say that the website will soon be on par with that of other industry professionals---no more hippie slackin'! If you haven't already found us on Twitter, you can follow here . This blog will be updated frequently with fashion news, links to designers and lots of photos.

Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Riding on the coattails of success--copycat designers of reconstructed clothing

one of my early pieces c.2002

Reconstructed clothing is nothing new. People have been fashioning new garments from repurposed material since the depression era when
were scarce. Many of us who have always been creative and innovative have experimented by making adjustments to existing clothing or using parts of it for other purposes. The very roots of Gypsy Palace Couture were developed in  reconstructing sweaters, satin comforters and fleece jackets to make children's clothing, back in 1999 when I had my first child and had the luxury of staying home without having to make much money. That was when I also started making legwarmers and armwarmers. Nobody had armwarmers then. (There are 2211 pairs of them for sale on Etsy right now!)

Imitation of Christ

pop tab purse
In 2000, Tara Subkoff debuted the Imitation of Christ line of deconstructed clothing, which was a ridiculous success amongst fashionistas who bought into Tara's practical joke on the fashion industry. Her line tanked in 2007 when people finally realized how hideous the clothing really was, and at $2500 for a ripped up t-shirt, borderline criminal. Since then, I have seen a steady increase in reconstructed, repurposed clothing being marketed from "hippie bohemian gypsy" to "eco-chic" selling from the low double-digits on Ebay to the upper triple digits in Manhattan boutiques. It's become quite trendy to recycle clothing, plastic bags, bicycle inner tubes, pop can tabs and other refuse into wearable art. The northwest has a reputation of being "green" so you will find a lot of this sort of thing in artsy shops, galleries and boutiques. On Etsy and in other indie-craft marketplaces, it's even become redundant, ad nauseum--how many versions of the vintage necktie skirt do you have to see before it's just not that clever anymore?

Kat O'Sullivan
Well last night I came across the Etsy shop and website of a woman known as Katwise who makes the most delightful coats out of repurposed sweaters. Here's a bit of her autobiography: "My life has not been terribly ordinary, and I guess I am pretty grateful for that. I have been waltzing around the planet for years now, trying not to listen to all the people who insist that I ought to settle down. Sometimes it takes a lot of work to remember that a life lived in the pursuit of joy is just as valid (or more!) than a life lived in the pursuit of money."  

 I discovered after extensive probing that this young woman is a lot like me--unstoppably creative in many art forms, wildly independent and devoted to living life on her own terms. Kat has been so successful selling her incredible reconstructed sweater coats on Etsy that she's been able to buy a farm in upstate New York as well as travel all over the world. A woman after my own heart, indeed. Kat has been selling her creations on the street in New York and online at, barely keeping up with orders. She has sold well over 2000 of these coats on Etsy, and has inspired not only a huge following of fans, but at least half a dozen copycats. Check these out:

Some of these sellers are charging at least $100 more for what they're calling "original designs", but if you look at the number of sales they've had, clearly they haven't been around nearly as long as Kat. These people are riding on the coattails of her success. One of these sellers, Jill2Day, (who has no sweaters for sale currently--but tons of clever armwarmers!) has received public acclaim for her creations in several blogs.

Is this the hundredth monkey phenomenon at work in the fashion business? That could be the case with armwarmers, as there is little design latitude there--you make a tube out of a sweater and it has to be sewn together somehow. But these intricately patchworked sweaters have clearly been ripped off, and shamelessly at that.

It bugs me.

Katwise is my superhero of the week. She is living the life I've sought after for years--putting heart and soul into her art, living as a work of art herself. And yet, there is no copyright to this brand of super-stardom. Fashion trends devour all, and rarely water the garden that grew them. I made these sweaters 4-5 years ago:


and I've seen so many similar designs since then, I've just had to move on to something new. I believe this is the mark of the true visionary artist, being far ahead of your time and having to invent and reinvent constantly. There are creators, and there are consumers, and I've just realized today that some people are actually consumers masquerading as creators. A parrot is indeed an intelligent bird, but how deeply does it understand the words it repeats? The parrot's true voice is beyond our language, it is the primal expression of its soul. This is what Gypsy Palace is all about, and it is who Gypsy Palace supports.

There will always be cultural memes, trends, colloquialisms, and copycats. In the music industry, you can sue someone for ripping off your lyrics or melodies (remember Vanilla Ice's blatant rip-off of David Bowie/Queen's bass line from "Under Pressure"?). I doubt many reconstructed clothing designers will go so far as to patent their patterns, so it comes down to a matter of ethics. Respect those who inspire you by at least giving them credit. I am careful not to step on another designer's toes when I notice that we're working in a similar style, and if I wish to move forward with mine, I may invite them to collaborate with me. In fact, this is the theme of the next Gypsy Palace fashion show, coming up in May 2011. Five designers will be collaborating to create a collection of de/reconstructed garments and display them in a multi-media performance. I believe that collaboration is the next wave of visionary art as we learn to detach from what is "ours" and hold strong to the collective vision. I envision a national convention of reconstructed fashion someday, with hands-on workshops taught by people who have been doing this since before it was cool. If our collective vision is to save the world by recycling as much as possible, then let's not compete or step on each other for money--let's just save the world, ok?

please feel free to email me at, or add your comments to this article.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fall fashion forward--->What to wear to the Apocalypse

In Seattle, the weather snaps at the end of August, declaring summer unofficially but indubitably over. The evening chill demands a hoodie, and nights are frosty enough that we start closing the windows again. In my opinion, the only worthy compromise for saying goodbye to the most perfect weather on earth is fall fashion.

I have always found myself salivating like a hungry dog while anticipating the appearance of the September issue of Vogue magazine. Elle seems to get it out faster, and I have often suspected that Vogue intentionally makes us get hungry before releasing that fat, juicy volume of what people are wearing this season. Meanwhile, designers are already onto the next new thing, secretly scheming while consumers devour the current fashion trends. I know this, because I am one of those fashion visionaries--I saw the tattered, stained denim, victorian trash jewelry, distressed leather, buckled boots and military jackets a long time ago and have been creating in that genre for well over a year. It's frustrating being a visionary who produces on such a small, local and boutique scale, because I often see what appear to be knock-offs of my visions mass-produced by companies like Free People and played out before I could even hope to reach beyond my small circle of fans.

But Gypsy Palace is all about inventing and re-inventing again and again. It's about resurrecting and destroying, over and over. My personal design philosophy includes a sort of "sourdough" theme, using a bit of old culture to start a new batch. I often use pieces out of the waste bin to create new fabrics and have at times cut up things I made long ago to make new pieces. I have no attachments to my materials any more. It's all got to go, for one day, this will all be gone...and I'd like to think I at least made good creative use of otherwise useless crap while helping people dress well for the apocalypse.

And speaking of the apocalypse, here's another great article from SF Gate columnist Mark Morford.
"You do not wear shorts to the Apocalypse. You do not wear flipflops or capri pants or a kicky little pink halter from Betsy Johnson. You certainly don't wear skinny jeans or a nice pea coat and some Mary Janes. There are no Ugg boots at Judgment Day. Tasseled loafers? Please. Sweatpants are sort of tacky, but hoodies are widely accepted if you really must go the bleak oatmeal route. Then again, this is the apocalypse, sweetheart. Isn't it about time you got serious?"   (read more HERE)
  And here are a couple of websites with apocalypse-worthy clothing and accessories:



 And in case your vision of the apocalypse is more cheerful than average, I wanted to share these incredibly gorgeous Elven ear embellishments from Liquid Fire Mantra jewelry.

After all, while we may very well see the dissolution of  parts of our civilization that have defined our culture for many years, those of us with a strong vision of peace, joy and vibrance for the future are part of creating a whole new paradigm. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that we may in the near future see people wearing things like this. Hey, why not be the first of your friends to get married wearing Mother of Pearl elf ears!

And finally, a note on what's up for Gypsy Palace this fall. MASSIVE website redesign, upgrade of Etsy shop, a fashion show for sure, AND.... a consistent line of ready-to-wear jewelry available for purchase in select boutiques or online. So far Gypsy Palace has only offered unique couture pieces of jewelry but we are currently working on some designs for a larger-scale production. Also in the works is a collaboration of designers doing a trunk show sometime this fall, so stay tuned.

Time to put an extra blanket on the bed and snuggle in for a movie. Happy apocalyptic shopping!