Kitagawa Utamaro (ca. 1753 – October 31, 1806) was a Japanese printmaker and painter, who is considered one of the greatest artists of woodblock prints (ukiyo-e). He is known especially for his masterfully composed studies of women, known as bijinga.
A continuing series of posthumous clothing for this artist
Indigo dyed vintage circa 1940’s
(Click on image to enlarge)
I was doing some spring cleaning and came across and old jacket that I made for the Sammy Davis Jr. collection back in the 70’s when I moved to Los Angeles. He was starting a clothing line and needed a pattern maker.
I was introduced to him at Disco 9000 up on Sunset Blvd. It was the Studio 54 of the west coast. It was a place where any night you could run into any celebrity. I was brought to his table where he had an entourage of beautiful people. Lola Folana had just come off the dance floor and slid in next to him at their private booth. The disco lights threw sparkles off her Halston dress, the one with the plunging neckline and handkerchief draped hem. It had the split open front that climbed up the thigh. It was one of Halston’s signature pieces during the disco phase.
Sammy leaned over the table to shake my hand. A cigarette dangled from his lips. The golden boy in a midnight blue nehru collared suit. His shirt was unbuttoned to the chest exposing a gold chained Chai around his neck (life in Hebrew). It was entangled with a red horn (Malocchio – Italian for evil eye) given to him by Sinatra.
Later that night me and a few hangers-on went to his house. The later it got, the more crowded it became. He had a shmear laid out in the kitchen. Deli food of all sorts flown in from New York. Lox, bagels and Sammy Davis Jr. The evening faded into a blur. I found myself sprawled out on a deck chair when the sun was coming up.
We met a few days later at his Beverly Hills loft.“ Hey Frank should meet you” he said. “2 dago’s from the east coast”. Sammy sat there and watched as I draped some muslin on a mannequin. “ OK, let’s hire this kid before Don Loper kidnaps him”. Don Loper at the time was a well known tailor and costume designer for the entertainment business.
Sammy’s clothing line had a short life. He continued to be one of the best dressed men in Hollywood. That night at Disco 9000 I can still hear Sister Sledge’s song which reminds me of him.
“He wears the finest clothes, the best designers, heaven knows, ooo, from his head down to his toes. Halston, Gucci, Fiorucci, he looks like a still, that man is dressed to kill. He’s the greatest dancer.”
another episode from: LIVING ON THE SELVEDGE
The ghost collection came about with the salvaging of vintage jackets. The measured hand of the tailor still haunts the internal linings of these jackets. When corrections were neccessary on the building of these jackets, a tailor might grab any fabric that was available when he/she came across a problem that needed mending, like a carpenter fixing a broken dovetail or any other joinery problem, these usually remained unseen. This is the hidden beauty that lives beneath the lining. I can see the formed silhouette of the jacket that still holds the shape of the purchaser. I’ve found old notes in seams where pockets have frayed away like messages in a bottle that drifted ashore.
This collection needed to come alive. The dancer Folawole performed at the Mondavi center back in February of this year wearing the Ghost collection.
Kitagawa Utamaro (喜多川 歌麿?, ca. 1753 – October 31, 1806) was a Japanese printmaker and painter, who is considered one of the greatest artists of woodblock prints (ukiyo-e). His name was romanized as Outamaro. He is known especially for his masterfully composed studies of women, known as bijinga. He also produced nature studies, particularly illustrated books of insects.
JAPANESE BORO DIPPED IN INDIGO DYE VAT:
It took 7 dippings to get it to the nice deep indigo blue I was after (click on image for a closer view). Indigo doesn’t dye into the fabric like most dyes, it attaches itself to the fiber. When I submerged the jacket, I had the breast pocket sewn on. I removed the pocket after the dyeing process and that gave me the ghost pocket silhouette.
The boro (Japanese for rags) are vintage textiles that have been hand stitched and reused for generations.
The fabric is dyed to a blue black with a dusty indigo blue pocket (click on image for a closer view).