Wednesday, August 30, 2006

30 August, 2006

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Menswear is Boring | Subtle Moves (like a creep on a dance floor) | Your Valet Should Know

I spent this afternoon combing through the menswear sections of nearly all of Seattle's finest clothiers. You see, for research purposes (and because I need a job and am considering selling other designer's duds as a quick fix) I thought it would be a good idea to hit up Mario's, Butch Blum, Nordstrom, Macy's, David Lawrence, Brooks Brothers, Kenneth Cole and Barney's to see what they had on the racks. I found very little variety. Like I had feared, the color palette in the spaces rarely extended beyond grey and black were it not for rows of neckties and pocket squares, or the womenswear in my periphery.

Luckily, the things I fondled were beautifully made and proved once again that though the immediate hit of typical high end men's fashion rarely feels like a bold maneuver, it is in fact more solid in form, shape, structure and history than most women's clothing. Gents have had a solid approach that they trust, and I admire and appreciate that.

My brain immediately started projecting the embellishment and decoration of the women's pieces onto the men's...a certain aesthetic gender blending that seemed to, in my mind at least, make for more exciting pieces. But, now that I consider myself a designer, I suppose it makes sense that I'd be toting around this "I would do it differently" attitude.

But I need to know, boys: What do you want? Do you ever find yourselves jealous of the color and variety present in women's clothing? Would a well placed ruffle or embroidered piece ever have a home in your chest of drawers? What would you do with color if you had every tint and shade at your fingertips? What would your valet say if your skirted frock coat were now lavender and tailored to be fuller, with a bit more flounce?

Friday, August 25, 2006

On Reinvention -or- The Buns of a Biker Make Perfect Sense to Me

After dinner and drinks tonight, Rachel made it clear that she stood in opposition to the aesthetic strategy of the cute boy bicyclists with their tiny tees, rolled jeans, perfectly chosen tweedy caps, and colorful socks that were leaving the restaurant at the same time we were. This look rides steady across all of Seattle. And, though its becoming a bit predictable, it does have a certain something all its own (Not once will you hear me gripe about the outfit of the JimmyJohns sandwich delivery guy...a perfectly stunning example of a success story for this look). I have yet to experience a moment where one of these guys rides past and I don't look twice. If their buns don't get my head turning, their striped red socks do. Usually both, I suppose.

I think the point of my conversation with Rachel was to figure out the value of this group spending more time finding a way to perfect their variation on this popular look than others would on any single aspect of their appearance. I found myself a bit challenged by the idea...mainly because I think I am far more guilty than they are of spending excessive amounts of time on my appearance and wardrobe on any given day. In fact, I envy them. I would love to know which formula worked best for me, only to perfect it and trust it each and every day I left my apartment to face the world.

But isn't there something to be said for constant reinvention? Should our day to day costumes change to meet the needs of our brain, mood, body, libido or expectations on any given day? Or should we find such strength and trust in one system that matches out taste so perfectly that we never feel the need to cast ourselves astray?

I suppose all of this is heavy on my brain these days because I am feeling such an itch to reinvent my own look. I'm tired of what I see in my closet. In the midst of a later summer clean out, I have come to realize that I still wear things I purchased in high school (you've seen my boots!)...others just a few weeks ago and they have already lost their lustre. Some weeding out has seemed to make it bearable, though, leaving a few empty hangers for new purchases as they arise. And if I don't have a means of buying new, I had damn well better start to rework what I already have or its going to be one helluva long winter!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hats Please: Part III

Spontaneous Self Portrait In The Only Hat Of Mine That I Like

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Reflections: On Watermill, Fashion, Collars, Comfort, New York City, My Future

-Never before in my life have I been part of such an international, interdisciplinary, and supremely talented group of artists. It was a joy to be reminded that so many engaging people exist in the world, and that they’re all looking for a means of using the arts to say something that matters. When we didn’t speak the same language, we still spoke the exact same language when working together.

-The food at Watermill was always superb, and it made me fat. On days of doing mindless yard work or other tedious tasks, a hefty meal was often one of few bright spots in an otherwise dull daily schedule.

-Not until the last week of the program did I find a means of doing something that was truly creatively satisfying. What a shame. Thankfully, the project shows promise and the people involved became close friends. I will be doing all I can to take the show on the road to Bali and Germany in spring.

-The French girls made not wearing undergarments seem so easy. It was as if their comfort was projected onto me as their freely swinging breasts beneath white cotton sun dresses reminded me that functioning on the extreme end of comfort is at times as satisfying as an extreme in discomfort.

-The modern design collections at MoMA were brilliant. I stumbled upon them after viewing several galleries packed with equally beautiful drawings and architectural plans. It made me want to draw again, and I plan to head straight home and do just that.

-The average New Yorker is no more or less stylish than people from any other part of the United States. What New York offers, however, is a camp of people interested in something new…something challenging…something in their wardrobe that reflects the life they’re living. This, I like.

-I would only give more than 3 seconds of viewing time to the paintings and sculptures at the Met that showcased interesting clothing. The best thing about a classic portrait is that it not only highlights the sitter’s personality and face, but also their clothing. At the very least we can enjoy their collar. And oh what beautiful collars some of them had!

-I think I love New York, but I’m not certain I want to live there quite yet. The cultural and artistic variety in the city is amazing…something to yearn for, no doubt. But boy is it noisy! And boy is it fast! And boy do some of the people seem mighty overworked and stressed! And boy oh boy are some of those apartments smelly and tiny and expensive as hell! I think I’ll take a few months in Seattle to think about it all and see if it is indeed the place I want to live next.

-Without Connie Francis singing “Don’t Ever Leave Me” on my ipod, I don’t think I would have made it through these past 7 weeks. The chorus is brilliant - one of the most beautiful things I heard all summer.

-Success and money don’t make you happy. They don’t even necessarily give you the life you had always hoped you would live. I haven’t learned this from my own experience, but from the watching the lives of others. On Long Island I met so many people with SO much money and notoriety that still seemed miserable…like they were scrambling for something more - something more meaningful and lasting. Once again, the Beatles were right. I love the Beatles.

-It wasn’t until watching the documentary “Resident Alien” on my laptop during the flight home that I realized I was staying just blocks from where Quentin Crisp himself lived! The closing scene of the film shows him walking home at the corner of Astor and 9th Street. Had I known this sooner I would have slowed down while there. Maybe even taken a photograph.

-My friends Sofia and Mauro say that Laurie Anderson is an angel.

-For the past five days I have had the privilege of showering in the best shower in New York City. In the words of my wonderful friend and consummate host Jay, “Every time I take a shower I have a GREAT time!” Long live excellent water pressure on the lower east side!

-I am going to miss a lot of people very very much. Others, not so much.

-Please go see the Dada exhibition at MoMA. Hannah Hoch, looking at your collages is like kissing Jesus. Maybe even better.

-Living out of a suitcase for seven weeks is a drag. I want to formally apologize for having such a dismal and repetitive wardrobe in all of the photographs I have shared with you. There’s only so much one can haul, and only so many combinations that can be had with what one does end up hauling. I’ll try to make up for it when you see me on the streets of Seattle.

-Rest assured that A Seamster’s Summer is not over. I enjoy this blogging thing far too much to call it quits. I can only hope you all enjoy this as much as I do.

Monday, August 14, 2006

This is the end

In 10 minutes I will be driving away from the Watermill grounds, and at the very best returning again next July. Of course I have much more to say, reflections to share, tales to tell....but they must wait until I have a more quiet moment to write. Expect them soon.


I need a haircut.

Friday, August 11, 2006

In Do Ne Sia

Last night was perhaps the biggest thrill I have experience since coming to Watermill. As a side project, I have been working with director Christoph Schletz, film makers Lovis Drengler and Mary Eve Nadeau, to create a performance that showcases dancer Illenk Gentille. Our late evenings and spare moments during the day for the past week have been devoted to creating a performance that combines video, traditional Indonesian dance and costume as a means of simply seeing what happens when we put these components together. And, I’m happy to say that the experiment yielded some rather interesting results; results that could show promise of becoming a solid performance if given the chance to working with them more.

Last night’s run was divided into 5 parts, alternating between video and dance segments. I chose to dress Illenk in variations on the traditional costume he typically wears, but with more interesting fabrics, more unusual combinations of forms, and something that might somehow work with the props he dances with. His handmade red fan, a striking object, had caught my eye long ago and I have wanted to use it with a costume for weeks now. Like Karl’s fan keeps him cool and put a femininely royal curve against the trusted geometry of his wardrobe, Illenk’s fan seemed to be the perfect counterpoint to the pleats and rectangles I drew into the plan for his costumes.

The positive feedback I received on the costumes was encouraging and inspiring. I want to make more. A bigger thrill, however, came from seeing the costumes after the performance. If you ask my studio mates in graduate school, they will tell you of the countless times I demanded that the garments I make be “Lived with, sweat on, washed and re-washed, spilled on…” (Right Rachel? Right Anna?) and last night gave me exactly what I asked for. The collars were perfectly drenched in the dancer’s sweat. The sarongs were adequately wrinkled and mangled after being tossed on the floor during quick costume changes. It was all much more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

While the color and backdrop of these performance stills aren’t fabulous, they capture a bit of what happened. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Final Days

I think that its safe to say at this point that everyone's energy and patience are wearing thin here at Watermill. We've been faced with quite a challenge, after all. Working side by side with volatile personalities for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for 6 weeks straight (8 weeks for some) without more than 1 or 2 days off is no easy task I suppose. This week has made it clear that some people are ready to be done. Priorities are shifting, attitudes are changing, and all in all I think its safe to say that most people want their own lives back.

The good news for me is that I will be able to end this residency with two exciting projects. By the end of the weekend, I will have helped install 4 major artist's installations in a public space near the Deutsche Bank on Wall Street. The artists that were invited to install work at our benefit have now been asked to recreate the pieces in this more public space in the city. I'’ll be working as support staff of some sort on this project.

And, even more exciting in my mind is the chance to complete and present a costume for a film and dance piece featuring the frequently aforementioned Indonesian dancer Illenk Gentille. I have come up with a variation on his traditional dance costume, and hope it works out. A pile of cream colored cotton sits beside salmon and wine red dupioni silks on our cutting table. The costume will consist of a wrap skirt with pleated inserts, a fan, decorative hand painted details on the dancer's skin, and two contrasting neckpieces - each for a different phase of the dance performance.

A Watermill work table is always tidy. Whether we want it to be or not.

We worked until 4:00 am last night with hopes of chugging along on this project, and the progress was promising. I will be spending the rest of the day on the same project, sharing my time with the others working on costumes for this weekend's performance of Persephone at the Guild Hall Auditorium in Bridgehampton. While I have not yet seen a run through of the piece, I am told it is remarkable and touching. Please come.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Beauty of Language Barriers / False Appearances / A Response

Some recent conversations, both overheard and experienced first hand:


A Kind Hungarian: Hello, I am Tina from Hungary

A Kind Indonesian: We have lots of food in the kitchen. You can eat.

AKH: No, my name is Tina, from Hungary

AKI: Yes, I know. We have food! Its free for you

AKH: No, my name is Tina, FROM Hungary...

AKI: I just cooked! You should eat...its very good!

AKH: You dont understand...I am from Hungary...

AKI: I understand. You're hungry. Come eat now!....

This continued for a LONG time until someone interjected to clarify...

-Two- (this is ridiculous)

A Kind Fabric Store Employee: Your total is $13.47

Me: O.K.

AKFSE: I'm sure you hear this all the time, but you look just like Brad Pitt!

M: Why thank you, but actually I don't EVER hear that...

AKFSE: You're kidding!

M: No, I'm definitely not kidding. But please, feel free to tell me this sort of thing whenever you'd like...


Ereck: "What is elegance? Soap and water!" -Cecil Beaton

Mike: "Perhaps the world's second-worst crime is boredom; the first is being a bore." -Cecil Beaton

Beach Boy --or-- Exhibitionism On The Beach

After 25 years of living in the center of the country or on frigid Puget Sound, I was able to swim in the ocean for the first time in my life. And oh how I loved it!

Lounging on the beach with my new friends is a joy, and my time there reminds of old family photos I have been shown; my full figured relatives reclined on towels on the Florida coast. Thankfully we've moved beyond the days of wool bathing suits...and for this particular spontaneous trip I decided that my lavendar cotton shorts would have to do. I have taken to always carrying these in my bag just in case I am faced with another unexpected chance to hit the sand and sun.

An Indonesian style back-crack should only happen in the sand. I attempted something similar this morning on a cement floor and nearly broke my nose.


Last Tuesday we were invited to dinner at the home of Lisa DeKooning. Her daddy was a very very famous painter, and the house she lives in now was the same house her daddy lived and worked in. The party was incredibly unusual - the huge group of 7 year olds that was also invited had a pony and a pot bellied pig...a parrot, a juggler, and two massage therapists. Balloons and party favors were on all the tables. When I asked one of them what the special occasion was, he looked me confused and said "there's nothing special about this. we always do this." Just another day in the Hamptons, I guess.

This was NOT, however, just another day in the Hamptons for me. I spent the majority of the evening in DeKooning's studio drinking wine with my friend Carlos and taking photographs. The space is exactly as he left it in 1997...complete with color swatches on the walls, half-worked canvases on easels, and dirty brushes in cans of thinner.

I have never spent much time thinking about DeKooning's paintings. To be honest, I have never been very drawn to them. His sculptures have always been more intriguing to me. There's always something about seeing an artist's working space that can inspire a lot more curiosity about what they're doing. The history of his work and his legacy was heavy in the air of the space...and you couldn't help but acknowledge its importance once you roamed through the studio.

PS: Jack told me that Willem De Kooning was so undeniably attractive that women flocked for miles to catch a glimpse of his charm. I suppose his bibs gave him a certain something...

Friday, August 04, 2006


As I got dressed this morning, my Cambodian roommate very matter of factly asked me if I was planning to dance at our morning meeting. For him, a wrapped rectangle of cloth around his waist is the perfect garment to perform in.

In the same way, Illenk is proof in the cultural pudding that other cultures do not bat an eyelash at men wearing something other than pants. I turned up this morning in these designs of mine, and was instantly comforted knowing that everyone here would not only accept my garments as normal...or at least reasonable. Because of our clothing, my kinship with Illenk seemed especially strong today, so I wanted to document it on film. Thanks to Carlos, once again, for taking lovely photos. Illenk wears something like this every day. I suspect he has for the past 21 years.

Sadly, outside of Watermill the response is not quite as warm. I've worn something similar in Seattle, and have been subject to constant staring and stray remarks....not all of which were kind. The staring I welcome. The rude comments, not so much.

I wonder when America will get over this. I hope to have a hand in helping the situation along. And in the meantime, I encourage all of you young men to consider adding a skirt to your wardrobe. And if it makes you feel better, go ahead and call it a sarong. That's just fine. You all truly deserve the freedom and comfort this garment gives, and I'll have your back when the big girls on the playground get jealous and try to steal the designs you look so damn good in.


A conversation I had on Sunday:

CK: Excuse me, is Bob around?

M: I believe he's around the corner in the office.

CK: I'm Calvin. Calvin Klein.

M: I'm Mike Cepress. Its a pleasure to meet you. (we shake hands)

CK: Thanks.

Southhampton, New York - July 13, 2006

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Benefit : Revisited

I just found these pics on the web from our benefit. As far as I can tell, I think thats me in the white spandex. Also featured is an image of Andrew Logan in his fantastic pink set.

Longhouse Couture

Last night I was fortunate enough to be invited to dinner at the Longhouse, the home of textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen. As a fibers student, I have been studying Larsen’s work since I began undergraduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and continued to look at his impact more seriously once in graduate school. Anyone who has been paying attention to interior decoration, textile design or the craft world over the past 50 years knows that Jack Larsen is one of its foremost innovators and trend setters…a real rock star of the field.

The thing I like most about Jack is that his fame and celebrity is one that doesn’t require lavish retreats, nightly extravagant dinners and pool boys, but instead he opts for a much more solid and lasting existance with his own art collection and the work others in the art world are doing, and a well tested philosophy of giving back. My time in the Hamptons has shown me that for some, a level-headedness and worldly sense of reality can be quickly set aside in exchange for some other brand of “luxury” that otherwise leaves me completely cold. This is not the case at Longhouse.

My dinner with Jack was fantastic. A ride through his world-famous gardens on a golf cart and a drink in his immaculately decorated (yes DECORATED) home was follwed by dinner and conversation about the mutual friends we have, the new life I’m beginning for myself in New York, and how on earth anyone manages to become successful in the arts.

After a very kind and considered look at my portfolio, Jack’s suggestion was to “either switch to designing for women, or switch to theatre.” I’ve heard this before. The bodies of work I tote around and share with people are loaded with unusual garments for men, photographed on men, and designed with only men in mind. I’m not so sure I could find a means of immediately making a living doing work for such a focused market. Theatre, could possibly let me continue with this approach. And women’s fashion, of course, always leaves room for more color, more texture, more exploration.

I’m a bit scared of the fashion world. It seems ruthless. Cruel, even. I don’t know if I have it in me to face the steady stream of superficiality and trend-chasers on a daily basis. Sadly, the days of couture are long gone. Fifty years ago, a woman of high society would acquire a handful of custom garments…maybe 5 or 6 a year…knowing that each was entirely unique, and wear them time and time again with no repercussions. Women of today demand hundreds, and the social sin of wearing the same thing twice is becoming more objectionable every day.

I want the days of 5 or 6 new garments a year to come back. I want to know that there is a place for, and a demand for, a level of refinement and authenticity in a single garment; a value placed upon precision and craft in the making of ONE garment...not one million. Giving designers a means of laboring over a single design is essential. The ready to wear market has managed to showcase repetition and mediocrity in design that frankly, is remarkably boring.

Not boring, however, was Jack's evening attire...which changed three times in the 4 hours I was there. Every time he left the room, he returned in a slightly different, equally comfortable but chic variations on Japanese summer designs in unbleached linen. Clearly this was a result of me dining there on the absolute hottest day in the Hamptons since the 1950s. We broke records yesterday. And while the temperatures were torturous, the resulting attire modifications were a joy to watch.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Yes, but...

...have you met my wonderful friend Ereck. ?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Today / Complimentary Scheming / Landscape

-I opted to pair my light blue tee with ochre and salmon colored knickers. Analogous compliments are the best.

-I opted for the orange Smart Water instead of the grape because it was clearly a better accessory choice (for the same reasons as above).

-I opted to stop pouring the half and half into my coffee at the exact moment the brown reached a value that perfectly matched my knickers.

Update: Poison Ivy / Rx: Levi's 514

Thanks to a 5 day subscription of prednisone, a fancy creme and a shot in the rear from a very nice nurse at the Southampton Hospital, my poison ivy is under control and looking better and better every day!

Although I considered striking fear into each and every one of you with an image of my demon, I have decided not to post the picture. But PLEASE, steer clear of that nasty little three-leaved devil!

The best news of all is that the doctor instructed me to keep this leg out of the sun for the next week or two. I tend to dislike wearing shorts. Rarely does one look their best in them. Luckily, my new Levi's have been calling my name, and now I have doctor's orders to wear them!

A side note: According to Carlos, famous designer Charles James was the patient of the original Dr. Feelgood.