Saturday, December 29, 2007

MC = Michael Cepress | MC = Men's Clothing

A restful holiday and the onset of the new year leave me eager to reflect upon the past twelve months, and excitedly engaged in making choices about what’s next. Time moves along, trends and attitudes change, and focuses shift as I consider my creative work and how it effects the rest of my life. I’ve plowed through tailoring challenges I once only dreamed of having, I have traveled to see the world and share my work with new faces, new places. Somehow I have managed to continue actively working in the field I studied for so long….the discipline of men’s fashion that I have come to adore so much. Gathering what I have learned, counting my losses, and keeping an eye out for new doors that need to be kicked open, I am thrilled about what’s to come.

It is clear to me that MC needs to go public. The drawing boards show a studio/showroom in Seattle, and I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of finally having a place to showcase my work as it continues pours out of my studio. I’m not shy with the use of the word “pour,” because this is exactly what I anticipate. I’m in search of a way for you all to come see pieces in person. I’m in search of a space for you to visit, have measurements taken, take part in fittings, tell me what you want, tell me what you don’t want, stop in to say hi, or sip tea on a Saturday afternoon when you’re strolling about town. I’m in search of a showroom always ready and willing to share my designs with you. I’m in search of ways to show you what once was in men’s fashion, and how we can revisit it’s beauty to make it our own for our modern lives. I’m in search of a chance to make this all even more real. The ultimate in real experiences means a very real space. If it means an extra rent check each month to earn a space and make this reality a possibility, then that’s just fine by me.

Stay turned as things evolve and develop because I want you to be part of this. I want you to know that I care about how you look and how you feel. You really do mean the world to me.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

JUNK MAG | Press

Thanks to Mr. Richards and Brad Walsh, a wonderful article about yours truly has turned up online at Junk Mag. Take a peek, and send good vibrations to these wonderful folks spreading the word about my work. Its all very exciting for me...

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Narrative is Fashion | Going Public | Everyone needs an Auntie Ann to help things become clear

I find myself constantly revisiting thoughts about what it is I love about fashion, and what it is that I don’t enjoy about the narratives of theatre and film. I’ll remind you that my friends know I generally don’t watch movies, and I have earned myself a reputation of being the very first to fall sleep at the mere mention of a blockbuster rental. I maintain that I do well with documentaries and histories and accounts of all things real – the fictional inventions of a novelist, playwright or filmmaker however rarely keep me engaged.

On the same note, when presented with the worthwhile challenge of designing for the stage, I end up searching for ways to make the utter and complete artifice of it all somehow genuine and real. I suppose my use of this word “real” gets a little wishy-washy from time to time, and know there are academics out there who would love to harpoon my lack of distinction between varied layers of semantics and perception (there’s my “real”, your “real”, a culture’s “real”, and on a fun Saturday night a Virginia real…err….reel) the assumption of the truth behind all of these is risky business, but ultimately I don’t care. This is a blog, folks.

As I think about what I am designing and who I am designing for, I seem best served by considering what appeals to me the most; which of the many facets of clothing design give me the most prolonged sense of pleasure? Which approach doesn’t feel like work? Which lets the hours disappear with the most ease and pleasure?

Fashion remains the answer, and fashion seems to somehow function as the space with the fewest rules – the fewest demands for me to answer to others, the shortest list of predetermined variables. When people ask about my design projects for theatre, I find myself talking about the luxuries of the stage – often ample budgets, and no need to convince the guys on the street that what I have made needs to go home with them. The invented character doesn’t exist in the first place, so generally they don’t talk back and wear what you decide they wear.

Ultimately I have decided this is not at all true. While a certain degree of freedom can happen in theatre (in contemporary dance, for instance) the narrative of theatre makes all of the decisions before I even sign on to a project. We know what the character will sound like, how they move, in which time period they are living, who they interact with – the designer gets to choose cuts and colors as mere servants to these rules. A caveat to this arrangement does turn up from time to time….the likes of Robert Wilson, for instance, offer aesthetic freedom in a way conventional theatre does not.

That said, I want my narrative to be the lives of the people off the street who may end up wearing my designs. I want the voices they use to be their own….I want the emotions they feel to be something no one else has and something they never needed to affect or invent. I want the clothes they wear to be the silent visual expression of something they love or something they feel or something they believe in. If we don’t have clothing in our lives that does this, we’re likely to be denying ourselves of yet another powerful and important means of expression – another voice in our collective cultural chatter.
And for those of you men who often tell me “I don’t really think much about fashion or care about clothes,” I don’t believe you for one second. If you didn’t care and your choices were truly arbitrary, unimportant and unconsidered, you’d find yourself with a colander on your head or in a women's flannel night gown way more frequently than you ever have before. You all think about it. You all care. You all make choices.

A resolution for 2008: MC is going public.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

ZOLA JONES | Where they drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry cola....Z-O-L-A, ZOLA | Bags to change your life

The wild world of the internet gives young designers like myself a chance to connect with other people all over the world doing their part to share their ideas about clothing with us all. A new favorite is my friend Jason Loper, the driving force behind Chicago's Zola Jones Designs. Clever, beautifully constructed and reasonably priced bags are exciting and made with a conscience. Heart, even.

And he blogs too!

His beautiful storefront is waiting for a visit from you. Everyone needs a bag!!! And who wouldn't want the help of such a dapper designer?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Commission | Ted's Cape

Another exciting moment from the studio - this time a commission for my wonderful new friend Ted. An adventurous, talented and fashionable soul, I'm thrilled to know he'll confidently take the streets in this cape I made for him. I saw success with these in past winters, and was happy to make another. Photos of Ted himself in the piece are forthcoming.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

New Reads | Chenoune and Barthes

I've taken it upon myself to revisit the basics and re-read every history of men's fashion books I plowed through in graduate school. Maybe it's the fact that I'm starting to teach at the university again in January, maybe its a quiet sense of making things that are a bit too normal in my own studio, or maybe its the pretty pictures that are initiating this; either way, it seems like a worthy endeavor. There's still so much to be learned.

I'm starting with Farid Chenoune's A History of Men's Fashion, and mixing in some Barthes to really make my head hurt. Looking at contemporary designers is exciting from time to time, but reading about style from the past really inspires me.

I'm seeing this as a jump-start to my thinking about a spring/summer collection and runway showcase. Wanna come?

Thursday, December 06, 2007


When you take the time to make yourself a new jacket, the least you can do is also take the time to visit
Byrnie Utz and buy a new hat to wear with it!

The cheesy Sears catalog pose and smile, of course, didn't cost a dime.

Monday, December 03, 2007

From a chat with Johnny Jack | Theorizing the glass

It went something like this:

"You know that window of glass that separates you and that Prada handbag? well, students, that is key, because not only are you separated from that handbag, but it is important to keep these windows clean. now, when you look through the window at the Prada handbag, it is a refracted image, imbued with your own reflection. it is an incomplete image.... so we enter the store, in order to see fully, or keep walking."

Commission | Robe | Right Hand Man

As I'm getting settled back into a sense of something normal here in my personal studio, I'm tackling yet another stream of commissions. I was endlessly worried about my hand holding me back and stopping my ability to work. Fortunately, my wonderful neighbor Ted has offered to be my right hand and spent some time cutting patterns for me the other day so I could continue sewing. Somehow, with this awful splint I can manage sewing. Drawing and writing is another story and remains incredibly difficult. Here he is hard at work as my right hand. Ted's such a peach!

As a result, I was able to finish this unusual and exciting commission: a bath robe. Were my own creative muses to guide the ship, I doubt I would have ended up spending several days making a robe. Thankfully, Robert found this fantastic vintage feeling plaid and voiced the oft-heard concern of not being able to find things off the rack that fit him. I love hearing this concern, and responded with a piece that models the cut of a 1940s silk lounging robe that I found about a year ago for my own wardrobe.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Roots | Decorative Spray

My family is Polish (and German...and Swedish...and Swiss...) but I only had the Polish part this in mind during my two weeks in Warsaw. During a rare afternoon with a few spare hours, I was able to visit The State Ethnographical Museum of Warsaw which dedicated nearly an entire floor of the building to the folk costumes of Poland. I promised myself I wouldn't leave Poland until I had seen this, and the sampling I was shown was exciting and inspiring.

Now I'm committed to learning more about these costumes....and, moreover, owning a few of my own. Perhaps I'll even make them myself. Of those I saw in person, these first three seem best suited to me. The decorative sprays off the hats are amazing, really. I can only hope the female companion I have with me in the future will appear a bit more cheery than the girl in these photographs.

And when this day-wear comes to feel too mundane, I think I'll opt for something of this sort (see below). For holiday celebrations, maybe? For a night on the town or at a club? A night at the opera? Spring vacation?