By: Katherine Price
After my Tuesday morning class about a week ago, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Deborah Block, a young fashion designer from Onalaska, Wisconsin who now calls St. Paul home. Block resides with her boyfriend and their two boisterous yet lovable parrots and their apartment doubles as her studio space. Block has been making custom clothing since before she was ten and now has a degree in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in Los Angeles.
Block has been working on her first full collection all summer long using eco friendly techniques such as repurposing fine wool from unsold suits from her former employer, Chavez Custom Clothiers and upcycling satin and remnant pieces from unsold bridal dresses from her current employer, Angelique’s Bridal in Blaine, MN. The collection will debut on September 30th at MCAD’s annual Full Fashion Panic: Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits.
I am very excited to see Block’s garments come down the runway. She is calling the collection ‘Black Crow.’ According to Britannica, crows are highly intelligent and they are also known for being scavengers, which speaks to the upcycled nature of Block’s designs (I wish my computer wasn’t telling me that upcycled is not a word!). Block’s inspiration for this collection comes from her love of dance, her many experiences with-in that world, this year’s five-time Oscar winning movie Black Swan and also a bit of her natural Gothic aesthetic.
An interesting aspect of Block’s process comes from her previous experience with custom clothing. With this collection, she found her models early on, showed them her sketches and asked which piece they would like to wear. Only then did she start creating the physical executions.
After the honor of seeing a preview, I can assure you that these models are excited to walk the runway in their personally selected looks. Block’s criteria for model selection had more to do with presence then height, so I’ll be looking for strong faces and fierce attitudes at the show. The interesting backdrop of the show Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures is an unexpected setting, but after eight years, it seems that MCAD might have it right.
Sol Inspiration’s Alex Detrick wore a commissioned jacket with a Manderin collar and offset buttons (photo above) by Block to the original Sol show last spring using organic cotton from Treadle Yard Goods in St. Paul, MN. At Intelligent Nutrient’s Fashion Night Out, Detrick again sported the jacket as a discussion point to reference Block’s talent and environmental consciousness. Block’s ideals are right in line with us here at Sol. She would be happy to be known as a great designer but she would be ecstatic to be known as a great eco-designer.
Block’s collection will be sold at You and Me on Lyndale from Oct.4th – 30th. It is important to support local designs by not only buying their products but also attending events like the show on September 30th so I hope to see all you there. Tickets are only ten dollars and can be purchased at the door.
The event Facebook page:
Full Fashion Panic
And you can keep up with Deborah Block on her personal site Camille Fashions