Art-to-Wear at Wildflowers Too!

Designer Showcase Blurs Line Between Art, Fashion
By SANDRA WEYANT | Aug 29, 2018
Photo by: Sandra Weyant

Two different fabric artists, one beautiful showcase.

Local artist and business owner Cricket Luker hosted the fifth annual Art-to-Wear designer showcase Wednesday evening, Aug. 22, at Wildflowers Too! in Barnegat Light. The event featured the works of Polish designer Teresa Maria Widuch and Japanese designer Mieko Mintz. Though the two are polar opposites in terms of their textile composition, they both produce striking apparel for all ages and body types.

The essence of Luker’s store is the concept of Art-to-Wear: appreciating art and fashion and creating a space where the two can coexist. The showcase serves as the perfect event to highlight unique fashion designers as well as bring awareness to the community about the artistic process and the boutique’s offerings.

“This is Mieko’s third year with us,” Luker said. “She has a nice following and beautiful products, and she has a lot of new designs this year. But I was looking for something fresh, another expression of art to wear.”

Luker discovered Teresa Maria Widuch in an issue of Artful Home and was determined to include Widuch in her annual designer showcase.

“Her work is very different from Mieko’s. I see Mieko as a painter and Teresa as a sculptor. Mieko works with colors, patterns and design balance … the way in which a painter would view a canvas. Teresa sees through a sculptor’s eyes, and her pieces are very architectural, with clean lines and minimal details,” Luker said.

Two words can be used to describe Widuch’s work: simple and stunning. Widuch is self-taught and has been designing jackets for nearly a decade. As a former silk painter, she is well versed in all things art, so fashion design came naturally to her. Her designs have been featured in the Smithsonian Institution and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Widuch sells her jackets in Artful Home and galleries across the country, and she is always available for custom orders.

“People really have been responding to Teresa’s work, which is what I love to see,” Luker said. “She started doing this after the company she used to work for went out of business, and I call that a happy accident. When you’re doing the right thing, your purpose, everything just falls into place. The designs are beautiful, and it really works.”

Touch of Elegance. Widuch uses two special fabrics for her clothing: an ultra-suede material from Japan, “the finest she can find,” and a lightweight boiled wool from Germany. Some jackets are a combination of both fabrics – a wool coat with suede accents or vice versa. The fabrics are extremely soft to the touch; just think of your favorite blanket … that good.

Slice of Heaven. Even sophisticated silhouettes can be a little bit edgy. Selected styles have convenient cut-outs or hole punches to give them some character. These jackets are simply a cut above the rest.

Easy, Breezy Style. Open-front designs are trending for outer wear. If you layer up, you can keep your coat unbuttoned to show off what you’re wearing underneath. Widuch’s felted jackets do not have buttons, zippers or magnets, but if you want to wear them closed, she has the best solution. Her son is an architect, and he helped her design a contemporary ebony pin closure that resembles a pencil (these would also look great on Mintz’s jackets).

When it comes to Mintz’s work, more is more. Forget what you may have learned about clashing colors and oversized silhouettes. These one-of-a-kind pieces have everything you want and more, and there is no such thing as overdoing it.

“I consider Mieko’s work to be casual elegance. When I wear my Mieko jackets, I always feel good. It’s comfortable, and it is an individual art piece,” Luker said.

Mintz’s Japanese heritage plays an important role in her design technique, and her Asian-inspired looks are fashion at its finest.

All About New. Mintz debuted two new silhouettes this year: the hoodie and the duster, both of which are flying off the racks. The hoodie has a flowy fit and an oversized Little Red Riding Hood-esque head covering. Like most of Mintz’s jackets, this style has magnet closures.

“You don’t have to wear a scarf anymore if you have the hoodie jacket. You can decide how many magnets you want to close. It looks gorgeous open or closed,” said Joanna Arvanitis, Mintz’s studio manager and personal representative.

The duster is longer than the hoodie and more form-fitted to flatter your figure. Instead of a hood, it has a collar and magnet closures, as well. Arvanitis suggests incorporating a cloth belt for even more flair to keep the front secured.

Pattern Play. Mintz’s signature designs feature a plethora of painterly prints with bold color palettes. It’s more than likely that one garment contains all of the colors of the rainbow. Among the patterns are abstract shapes, vibrant florals and funky combinations of the aforementioned, turning every fashion faux pas on its head. Even the smallest details are pre-planned; Mintz uses colorful thread to highlight every seam on her clothing.

Wear It Your Way. Versatility is key when selecting new garments to add to your wardrobe. While creating new styles, Mintz considers both the appearance and purpose, so you will get the most out of every piece, wear after wear. For example, if you buy one jacket, you will really have several different styles in one. Want to transform a jacket into a cropped blazer? That’s easy. Just turn it upside down and inside out. Voilà! If that’s not enough to impress you, every single one of Mintz’s jackets or blazers is fully reversible and has pockets on both sides.

Feel It Out. Taking inspiration from her childhood and Japanese culture, Mintz began designing her clothing collections with kimono fabrics. She then discovered Kantha fabric in India, a recycled sari material that is treated to be extremely soft. Her team of artisans in India hand-stitches every garment in layers to create the unique products. The more layers a jacket has, the heavier it is, which is how buyers can determine which styles are made for summertime and wintertime.

Recently, Mintz experimented with a combination of traditional Kantha fabric and contemporary Rayon Spandex to create a stretchy fabric for active-wear apparel. For Mintz, the fit and texture are equally as important as the look, and she wants her customers to feel their best in her clothes. All of her fabrics are long-lasting and cozy, so you’ll definitely want to buy more than one statement piece.

Finishing Touches. With clothing this gorgeous, you may not feel the need to accessorize, but just in case, there are plenty of options. Mintz’s fabrics are held near and dear to her heart, and she will not dispose of them, not even the tiny leftover scraps. Everything has a purpose. After she cuts the fabric to make her larger jackets and kimonos, she saves the extra pieces to create such accessories as necklaces, hats, bags and slippers.

“Teresa and Mieko’s work is very respected. I feel like I am marketing fiber artists,” Luker said. “These are not typical clothing manufacturers. It’s much more than that.

“When I opened my store about eight years ago, I was a print maker, and I was still doing art shows all over the country. I worked in clay and did clay tiles. Before I became a retailer, my background is in arts and crafts, and that will always be a part of me. It has been a really fun learning experience over the years because I didn’t really know the clothing industry. The store is finally balanced – we have our art gallery and art-to-wear clothing.”

To shop these designer collections, pay a visit to Wildflowers Too, or visit miekomintz.com or tmwiduch.com.

 

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