Stitching Ideas Together

The past three weeks of rehearsals for PFO’s Fashion Experience guided our teens and advisors in some beautiful experimental learning and creating.

During the first week, we connected as a team and huddled into a concept exercise designed by Advisor Shawn. We studied photos from Digital Art’s Zip Code Project (the teens will design one unconventional look for each of 10 zip codes in Charlotte), and then the teens mapped each zip code directly onto the wall with notes on color, texture, themes, and words related to realities and perceptions of these communities. This very visual process inherently became a discussion on social issues and systemic structures in Charlotte that directly affect Charlotteans in each zip code.

From there, concepting continued on a smaller scale. The teens made mood boards, a collage for each zip code to work from themselves, and to give as reference to local designers working in Charlotte. As the teens make unconventional looks for each zip code, a local professional designer will be creating the ready-to-wear version. We invited the designers to visit for two rehearsals and the teens and designers worked together to talk concept, teens sharing their visions and designers sketching and taking notes.

The nature of PFO is its wide, warm, reach as a grand hug into the Charlotte community. The Fashion Experience is following suit, and teens and designers are sharing and communicating as they create together in curated group chats.

We started digging into materials this past week, and it feels great to get our hands busy. Everything is in its raw stage yet, but I’m consistently amazed at the creativity and ingenuity in our teens. Using unconventional materials facilitates a real expansion of what we consider to be ‘clothing’ or ‘fashion’ and the teens are already working outside the box (except for in the case of our Uptown/28202 group; they’re currently building with cardboard.)

I’m personally experiencing a fierce wash of love walking to my car after each rehearsal. Being in this space with the teens, making what we’re making and the fun we’re having as a group with this work: it’s a piece of life that feels truly surreal. I look forward to sharing this with the world on March 8th! Until then I’m happily immersed in our unique world of hot glue, thread and gratitude.

Brianna Gardner, Fashion Advisor