Backstage at Stitch - Design Bureau

Backstage at Stitch

Friday, October 14th, 2011

by Tarra Kieckhaefer

Backstage at the annual Stitch fashion show, models are running around, some being sprayed in glitter, some with pieces being sewn on last-minute — typical backstage chaos. There's one major difference, though: the “fabric” is an unusual mix of building materials like wallpaper and tile. 

Now in its seventh year, Stitch brings designers and architects together with industry manufacturers. This year, architecture and design teams were tasked with translating buildings they designed — or were simply inspired by — into wearable garments.

Backstage, I found myself with Michelle Kraker of IIDA (and, for the night, a Stitch model), and Gretchen Miller of Marquardt+, one of the design teams that dove headfirst into the fashion world for five weeks.

What inspired the design of your team’s garment?

The building is the OshKosh toy store in OshKosh, Wisconsin, designed by James Wild of Gridwerk Architecture. Marquardt+ is partnering on the project and will be consulting on the interior design with Gridwerk and providing environmental graphic and display design.

What was the process like, Gretchen?

It’s been a technical feat, because it’s all window sheers, so it doesn’t work like regular fabric. It pulls and stretches a lot, so its like trying to sew jello.

As an architect what was your biggest challenge?

Sewing it. Simply sewing it. Although it’s lightweight sheers, with all of the stuff, it's like 25 pounds, so we had to put a strap in it, otherwise [the model] would walk right out of it. 

What are you most excited about?

This is first time it's been fully together — when I saw her walk during rehearsal. It looked really good. She was hitting her poses, and she got to the end and swirled and it all swooped out. It looked awesome.

Are you nervous to walk, Michelle?

I’m not nervous until I get backstage and I’m about to ready to go on, and then I’m like, “Okay, do it, work it, own it, do it.”

Now the big question: Would you do it again?

Michelle: I would. It’s been a really fun experience for me, but most of the work has been on the other end, so for me it’s been fun.

Gretchen: Ask me in six months, and I’ll probably say yes (laughter). I’m ready to get back to CAD tomorrow and design a building.

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