SANTA FE, N.M. (AP)
Shes strong, fantastic and independent. Shes an unconventional businesswoman with an artistic spirit. Shes ageless. She may be 70, but she feels 20. She has carved a niche for herself, and shes really in her groove.
Thats how Dawn Bacon-Richards describes the woman she designs for, but the Santa Fe fashion designer could very well be describing herself.
Shes not 70, but everything else seems to fit.
Enamored by fashion since the age of 6, the 44-year-old received her formal training, a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus on fashion, at the University of North Texas. After that, she worked in Dallas and Denver developing industrial design packages samples, patterns and specifications that she sold to stores, factories or other design houses. Coldwater Creek was among her clients.
Later, she took a job at Santa Fe Community College, where she taught hands-on studio classes, such as pattern-making and draping, for 12 years.
She left the school two years ago and has since ensconced herself in an airy upstairs atelier in downtown Santa Fe.
She still works for others, helping people turn ideas into concrete garments with plans for marketing and price points, and doing custom work for a select group of clients. But as her own creative vision began to emerge more and more through those projects, she decided it was time to promote her own work.
Last summer, Bacon-Richards, who has two young daughters, opened the Santa Fe School of Fashion Design, which offers classes for adults and children. Recent workshops included a dress camp for 9-year-olds and a Barbie Fashion Week.
Bacon-Richards said her adult classes focus on traditional old-school methods that combine pattern-making and draping.
Its a more intuitive way to design, she said. People need to be able to use their intuition to design, and part of the battle is learning how to trust that.
Bacon-Richards seems to have learned that lesson. As she talked about some of the 30 pieces for a fashion show, she was precise, assured and confident about each design choice, and charmingly inspired by each detail, cut and type of fabric.
These dont have much hanger appeal, but they are fantastic on, she said, pulling jodhpur-esque pants off the rack and describing how the fabric drapes around the knees when worn.
Its achieved with reverse circles, she said.
She said the name of her show, Resonance, refers to her penchant for combining historical silhouettes from the Victorian and Edwardian eras with a modern slant and hardware.
I like contrast, she said. I like to combine old with new, slick with matte, thick and thin, organic and architectural shapes, borrowing from the past to create a new, modern story.
Bacon-Richards collection which was a work in progress on a recent visit is meticulously articulated. To her, the word deconstructed does not mean unfinished. Even pieces with rough edges contain precisely tailored details inside and out.
Coats and jackets are her thing, she said, and her show will feature plenty including a red silk brocade jacket with a shawl collar and fit and flare back, and a floor-length coat in a nubby linen, accented with a transparent button closure and tiny red stitches that add subtle punch to the classic shape.
Hand-finished details such as the red stitches show up on some of her other garments as well, including a drapey mens button-down shirt in deep blue.
Bacon-Richards uses a variety of fabrics. For example, one jacket combines antique fur (she says she never uses new fur) with raw denim and pinstriped sleeves.
Some of the hardware and embellishments are things she collected from Paris flea markets throughout her life.
Her influences include late British designer Alexander McQueen and actress Tilda Swinton as she appeared in the movies Orlando and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
But most of all, she is inspired by fashion itself.
Clothes express so much about the person, she said. Even sweat pants. Fashion is a reflection of society. There is so much that fashion says about different cultures.