Like the desert’s own personal Project Runway challenge, night number two of Fashion Week El Paseo took a decidedly do-it-yourself twist. Only instead of aspiring fashion designers competing for the affections of supermodel Heidi Klum, this group was comprised of 23 of the desert’s leading interior designers tempting their fate in front of a panel including ex-catwalkers Beverly Johnson and Cheryl Tiegs. Their mission? To create outfits based on pieces from the Palm Springs Art Museum exhibition The Passionate Pursuit: Gifts and Promised Works from Donna and Cargill McMillan Jr. The catch? Each look had to utilize home design materials — quite the challenge, indeed. Perhaps they can unclog the kitchen sink and end global warming, too.
“Understanding the weight of the quartz was very difficult,” said Palm Desert-based interior designer Kimberly Swanson, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, the evening’s headlining partner. Swanson’s 40-pound quartz-encrusted creation took home the night’s grand prize—a full-page ad in Palm Springs Life magazine. The 1960s-style sheath dress was inspired by Andy Warhol’s 1967 work Portraits of the Artists (from Ten from Leo Castelli) and featured small squares of blue, red, yellow and green Caesarstone quartz tiling to match the color scheme of Warhol’s masterpiece.
To buffer the immense weight of the tiles, Swanson added a layer of fabric underneath the white, shiny vinyl dress, aptly named “Edie” after Warhol’s infamous Factory-era muse, Edie Sedgewick. The tiles were adhered to the short, sleeveless garment—which had a mod, go-go dancer quality—with fashion tape and industrial glue. And as of press time, not a single tile fell out of place.
Swanson wasn’t the only creative jack-of-all-trades who chose to use materials from mother earth. Candice Knox, a representative for Cambria Quartz Surfaces, created a Cambria quartz cascade of black, gray and white tiles affixed to the skirt of a black sleeveless dress. Simply called “The Cambria Dress,” the look was inspired by artist Brice Marden’s minimalist abstract painting Cold Mountain Series (Zen Studies 1-6). The dress, which reportedly weighed 60 lbs., finished in the night’s top five looks. Incidentally, judge Cheryl Tiegs is a Cambria spokesperson.
Other standout efforts included two very different ensembles both triggered by a bronze spider sculpted by 98 year-old artist Louise Bourgeois. Architect Lance O’Donnell made his model walk the plank in a plain, black, one-piece bathing suit and accompanying black umbrella—the simplicity of which caused multiple members of the audience to refill their goblets and use the trailer toilets out back. But as soon as O’Donnell’s beauty reached the end of the runway, it was revealed that the “boring” umbrella actually blossomed into a black tent dress complete with drawstring waist, making for one of the more innovative presentations of the night.
Linda Young and William Miller based their look off Bourgeois’ celebrated arachnid, as well. But they gleaned inspiration from famed fashion photographer Richard Avedon, instead, and created a black and silver cocktail dress that mirrored the house of Dior circa 1952.
“Interior design is a lot about fashion as well,” said Miller while accepting his place as one of the five finalists. “It’s all style.”
Beginning Sunday, the 20 dresses exhibited will be on display at Melissa Morgan Fine Art, 73040 El Paseo, Palm Desert. 760-341-1056. melissamorganfineart.com.
Full Video of the Show –