Face It -- Red Trousers Make You Happy
Red is a serious color.
It just has so much to say; so many stories to tell.
I once made a frothy cocktail dress from white dotted swiss with red velvet accents, but that’s the closest I’ve ever come to using red in fashion design.
There are certain things that must be red. I love my red car, red Converse (the only red article of clothing I own), and red lipstick, and I will only ever paint my nails with red. It’s not that I don’t like the color, it’s more that I have a reverence for it.
My red colored pencils are always the sharpest and my red markers are always the last to dry out. I just have a hard time reaching for them; I’m reluctant to be frivolous with such an auspicious color.
When Autumn rolled around and the colors it brought started to leak into the street-wear the way it did the leaves, I realized what I really needed was a pair of red trousers.
Needed; not wanted.
Not stop-sign red or anything running too orange. I needed wine-red, and they had to be wool. Something breathable, but with a drape. Light wool crepe, maybe. No. Definitely. And they needed a covered button of the same shade, but not too matchy in texture.
I have spent my whole life having similar revelations. But when you live on a farm, in Oregon, where your only options are end-of-the-bolt fabrics in Portland or from the second hand shop, you don’t get to be overly picky with what fabrics and colors you use.
Here, I spent about seven minutes and fifteen dollars in the garment district, and poof! I was ready to get cutting on my wine-red, single-knit, wool-crepe trousers. I’d even found a velvet covered button in the exact same shade.
I love working with wool, because natural textiles can be manipulated to fit the body so much better than synthetics can. I’ve been making pants since I was seven years old, but because I had the luxury of working with wool this time, I wanted the fit to be more couture.
I did some research on tailoring, and was able to incorporate some new techniques into these trousers that I’d never tried before.
Fitting the trousers to my petite frame rather than that of a perfectly proportioned six-foot model was something new for me, and I had to be very careful to highlight areas in the trousers that would elongate my short frame, rather than extenuate it. I also had to pay careful mind as not to cut out any style when subtracting length.
Using water and heat, the way my mentor from Scio, Brenda Broadbent, had taught me, I manipulated the crotch seam by stretching and shrinking certain areas to mold the wool into a curved surface rather than flat material. I didn’t have the tools that I was used to working with, but I used a rolled up pillow for a make-shift pressing ham, and a repurposed hair serum container as a spray bottle.
When I first finished the trousers, it was a little early in the fall to really pull them off, but now that the humidity has died off, I hope to wear my new red trousers often, and last week the sun came out long enough to snap a few photos!
Lucky for me, two weeks after we moved to the city, I was blessed with meeting a hair and makeup artist from Ecuador, Fahanny Estrada. I met her through New York Fashion Week, where she had originally just come for the week and needed a place to stay. After a few days in the city, however, she decided to stay in New York!
So, for the past month, mom and I have had a live-in hair and makeup artist (she also has mad skills for preparing plantains). It takes all the will power I have to get my homework done instead of letting her make me over every morning.
The struggle is real.
When it came to my first school-free free sunny day, Fahanny and I were both excited for a good excuse to put the homework on hold to play dress up.
We took the pictures around the block from our apartment at Zuccotti Park, which happens to be where the Occupy New York protests went down in 2011. The statue I posed with actually survived the 9/11 attacks. If you look closely, you can see where the debris left little dents on his jacket.
The breeze made a game out of my 70’s inspired waves that Fahanny had crafted, tossing them to and fro, as passersby smiled. That’s the thing about having red pants. I think they just have a way of making people happy.
Whenever I’m at a photoshoot, I am so caught up in watching the clothes, that I never pay attention to poses or angles. In Ecudor, Fahanny made a good portion of her living doing hair and makeup for television, so her years of experience behind camera sets made it great to have her there as we took pictures. She told me how to stand and made me feel like one of her celebrity clients from her T.V. job back in Ecuador.
Despite my odd relationship with the color red, I now have my red wine trousers, and I now have documented my red trousers, so I can move on to the green velvet stuffed in the sewing drawer (THE sewing drawer: singular).