The clothes packed onto racks in the back room of Elizabeth Carlisle's Wicker Park clothing store Pentimento remind me of playing dress up out of my grandmother's costume trunk: there are velvet and brocade Edwardian vests and ruffled blouses, cotton shirts silk-screened with wagon trains and cacti, vintage-inspired wool jackets out of His Girl Friday.
But the clothes in my grandmother's trunk were always falling apart, and the fabrics were usually bargain-basement. The pieces on Carlisle's racks--the labor of 33 local designers--are anything but. They're part of the lineup for Coyote Couture, a fashion show taking place tomorrow night as part of the Around the Coyote art fest. The clothes' flamboyant designs are countered by their fine details: embroidered buttons, pleats lined with contrasting material, the subtle variations of hand-dyed fabric.
As Around the Coyote's first-ever couture curator (ATC's never acknowledged clothes as art before), Carlisle got to pick the designers. Among them are hatmaker Lisa Zschunke, who's recently turned her attention to jackets; Rachel McAlpin, who combines black leather and printed burlap in the same garments; Renee Haas, who works as Trixie & Tasha and who'll show two sweaters made out of pieces of old sweaters; Amy Rigg, who is broadening her horizons by translating her little-girlish adult designs into children's sizes; and two of the three Cahill sisters behind the Lemmingwear line: Beth (who now labels her clothes Like My Dress) showing hats and dresses that sport hand-dyed-and-rolled silk flowers, and Kris (still Lemmingwear with her sister Karas) showing a dress made of different-colored panels of hand-dyed silk. When you're a clothing designer by trade, it's hard to leave yourself out of a fashion show, and Carlisle didn't: her coats made of antique Native American blankets and her turn-of-the-century-looking ensembles are on the roster.
The Coyote Couture models (on loan from Elite and Carla Walch Modeling Consultants) play dress up from 7 to 8 Saturday on the third floor at Centro Ruiz Belvis, 1632 N. Milwaukee; at the end of the show, Abiogenesis will dance in Karina Alecio's sweaters. Admission is free. All of the clothes in the show will be on display there and at Pentimento Artisan's Shop, 1629 N. Milwaukee, for the duration of Around the Coyote, 1 to 11 today and 11 to 7 tomorrow and Sunday. You can also take them home with you. Items range from $40 to $350, with most prices around $100-$150. Call Pentimento at 227-0576 for more.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Yael Routtenberg.