Photos by Richard Lovrich
Meet the designers who made our fashion issue so special.
Laura Merry Andrighetti, Moonfruitgloworm
The Alt: What are the main elements of your design?
Thrifted, secondhand and found materials. I try not to spend too much money, I like to find things that are either well-loved and worn or discarded completely.
A lot of what I do is in reaction to a personal experience or commentary on fast fashion. I like to use things that are overlooked. I always say that I don’t know how to sew, which is sort of what I do, so it continues the joke kind of, that I make these things quickly out of materials that have been around for a long time.
The Alt: What inspires you to put a piece together?
Jokes at my life basically. If I’m happy or sad or frustrated, the pieces have to do with that. It’s bringing humor to things that I struggle with. My reactions to my experiences. I was also really inspired by Japanese street fashion as a teenager. There’s something so individualistic about everything that I was seeing at that time. I grew up in a really small town, everything was super homogenized. Everybody dressed the same everybody played the same sports. I would dream about going to different cities and diving into their cultures so Japanese street culture was just this mix of everything, there were no boundaries. They mix uniforms and cosplay and different cultural influences so it was really everything that I wanted to see out in the world that I wasn’t able to access. I’ve kept certain influences of that. I like to travel now, it’s where I get most of my inspiration. At least once a year I go live in my car and drive around the country, talk to nature, meet weird people and see different things. Finding what you can where you are. It’s a dream that I get to live out.
The Alt: How do you know, when you come across an item, that that will be part of your design?
I just scan the racks [for] usually the oldest things. I also do psychic-intuitive work so that’s something that’s a very deep part of my life. I’ll hear that I need to go to the thrift store, that someone has passed and they’ve let go of a lot of great clothing. That’s not all of the time but great days are like, when someone’s amazing grandma has just relinquished their whole collection. Some days, you’ll be finding bits and pieces of one woman’s history and her experience. I don’t know how to explain it but some things just have a certain feel. You can find how they relate throughout a store. Again, that’s finding things where you are.
I also like going through hoarded houses. I used to do house cleanouts for antique companies or local businesses. Someone who was a complete shut it and completely boarded their house and it’s carrying on their culture that they’ve found important to them–whether that’s a heavy history or something that they’ve found funny in their past. There’s something special in being able to give new life or help them let go of things to get back out into the world. I have a few pieces of blanket that was recovered from one of my friend’s houses that they bought in Troy. It was a foreclosed home that had been passed down generationally for 40 or 50 years. Her mother had just had an insane collection of housecoats, wool blankets and chenille bedspreads and my friends were super generous and just gifted–to me–the most incredible fabric. To others it was like they literally wouldn’t touch it, “A mothy blanket, what do you want that for?” I literally can’t let it go. I’ve cut this one blanket up a million times over and I still wear one piece as a scarf every winter because I just love it so much. I feel like it really honors those people. I feel like there’s such shame in that household, a hopelessness, but there’s something about wearing that experience out there and not having shame about what you held on to or what you can’t let go of.
The Alt: Any special pieces we are showcasing here that you’d like to share?
All of the shorts. They’re like a ‘back off’ statement. There’s a lot of sexuality in my clothing as well but it’s usually got an attitude in it, like, “Don’t come near me. I mean what I say.” The snake shorts, reproductive system, venomous, look don’t touch and respect my boundaries. There’s a lot of double meanings in my clothing. I let other people just form their own opinions which I think is fun.
Andrighetti’s designs are available for purchase on her Etsy site: Moonfruitgloworm.
Elona Hope Mitchell-Strong, 2 Strong
The Alt: Can you walk us through the origin story of your collection?
My collection is called 2 Strong. My father, he would send me cards and letters and at the end he would be like, ‘A man is great, not because he hasn’t failed. A man is great because failure hasn’t stopped him. Too Strong.” With that, I went with it, it’s after my father.
How long have you been involved in fashion?
I’ve been modeling for three years and I had the opportunity to go to Atlantic City Fashion Week and start a collection, so I’ve been doing this for about two years now. Fashion week is every week, fashion week is every day, really.
You’re style is so unique. When you opened your suitcase I think you blew people away.
That is the goal, to always blow people away. When I unpack, I want people to go, “I wanna wear this, I wanna wear that!” My idea is to always dress everybody, to always let them know that whenever I get the opportunity, I will dress you. This is a suitcase that I always bring to do shows with. This isn’t even half of the pieces: the little things that people always go for and the things that I put into store to sell to people. I had a boutique in Atlantic City that I was in for a while and I work with Cap City Boutique in Albany — David Paris, he has his own store and that’s where my stuff will be, my artwork is there already.
What are the major inspirations behind your line?
I’m such a ‘90s baby it’s ridiculous. I still watch ‘90s cartoons, love ‘90s fashion, that’s really it for me.
How long does it take to put a piece together?
Anywhere from four days to a week, unless I’m on deadline for people.
Where do you get the original materials–the jackets, jeans, etc.?
Salvation Army, Goodwill, I refurbish everything. I love refurbishing clothing because I feel like it has more meaning to it. It’s already been worn so it’s been broken into, people see it and are like I can relate to that. It’s so much easier than sitting there with a needle and a thread, but I do sew as well. I’m a painter too. I was always a painter well before I was a designer. I always wanted to do it, but it was scary. After I became a model I realized that it’s really not as hard as it looks, that was the best part.
What advice would you give a creative who is interested in the fashion world?
Go for it. Don’t limit yourself. Honestly, the funniest thing I ever heard was like, ‘If you say you can do it, you can. If you say you can’t do it, you can’t do it.’ I honestly didn’t understand what it meant until after this. If you say you can do something, you can do it. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do anything because then you hold yourself back. If you feel inspiration, go for it.
How often do you make new pieces?
I try to make something every day. I try to keep my flow, my energy, going. If I’m not making a piece of clothing, I’m painting at home. I don’t feel at peace if I’m not painting or drawing.
I don’t have multiples of all of these pieces. When I post things, people will ask if I have this or that in this size and I’m like, ‘No, this is the only one. Everything is unique, one of one. I don’t like remaking anything. I don’t want to do that to anybody. When somebody buys something, I want them to know that this is it, nobody has this. I want to keep it that way, once it’s sold it’s sold.
What’s most important to you about putting a look together– both for yourself and for others?
Different. Unique. I’ve always been the person that stood out so I never wanted to be the person that’s like everybody else. If it’s unique, different and stands out, that’s something I want to be a part of. If it’s not the norm, I’m all for it. When I style other people, it’s about making them feel comfortable, it’s not about you. Even when I do a fashion week, my models will be like, ‘Is this OK?’ and I’m like. “I don’t care. Are you OK? You have to walk down the runway. I love what I make but you have to feel comfortable.”