April 19, 2012
Adrienne Antonson, an artist of many mediums, found the inspiration for her clothing line, State, in the midst of alpacas. As a student at the College of Charleston she studied sculpting before landing a gig as the curator of the esteemed Charleston gallery, Eye Level Art. After just one year, she needed a change.
"Changing gears is good," she muses. So Antonson and her husband uprooted to an alpaca farm just outside of Seattle, where she fell in love with the social creatures. Working to give the alpacas injections and deliver their babies, she established an extraordinary bond with them. And every year when it was time to shear their fur, she worked incredibly closely with the fibers, deriving inspiration for her label.
The self-taught designer took up the process of felting, a very ancient form of weaving practiced by nomadic tribes involving soap and water. The simple and slow vibrating of one's hands leads to a rug, wall hanging, or in the case of State, bonnets, that are breathtaking in scope and aesthetic.
Antonson set up a studio in the barn on the farm and began working with the fibers; emphasizing the importance of sustainable fabrics is her utmost goal, but the alpaca fur is the crux of her inspiration. Hinging her line on the concept of the farm to table craze that has taken the culinary world by storm, she is working with a self-dubbed concept, "farm to hanger."
As she explains it, "Let's shrink this process down and go back to basics, which is a very old idea. That is the future of fashion: farm to hanger; slowing everything down and being more thoughtful about where the apparel is coming from, being really creative with how you're dying things, and being resourceful. There is a beauty in being resourceful."
Antonson's plan is working. The designer took home the people's choice winner from Charleston Fashion Week and she's the in house designer for NuBe Green in Seattle. Luckily, she's making more than just alpaca bonnets.