Developing Narratives with Clothing and Connections to Place

I first met Audrey Acosta, one of the kindest designers ever, in Spring 2009 at the Whole Earth Festival in Davis California. I was charmed by all of her colorful one-of-a-kind dresses.  In an internship with her, she explained that she traveled to India once a year and hand-picked recycled silks to use for her collection. She laid out her dress patterns to avoid stains or rips that were in the gently used silks. She sewed along with Indian seamstresses to manufacture her dresses to sell in the U.S. Audrey currently travels to different festivals throughout the West Coast to sell her dresses and also sells them to boutiques throughout the US. She builds strong relationships with her customers by interacting with them at these festivals and telling them her story.

Below are Audrey dresses that my sister and I have accumulated over the past few years. Since the dresses are one-of-a-kind they always make me and my twin sister, Nidia, feel special and unique. We love to wear them throughout Spring and Summer and get so many compliments. We have also developed several memories with the dresses that lead us to love them even more.

Emotionally Durable Design

This was one of the first dresses my sister bought from Audrey in Spring 2009. She loved the purple/ pink color combination and the dynamism of the dress that was reflected in the fluid movement and design. She was excited to wear it to a special Fraternity event—May 2009
This was one of the first dresses my sister bought from Audrey in Spring 2009. She loved the purple/ pink color combination and the dynamism of the dress that was reflected in the fluid movement and design. She was excited to wear it to a special Fraternity event—May 2009
My sister was strongly attracted to the paisley design that we learned about in our Eastern textiles design class. She turned the dress into a skirt on this day by folding the top section down. I took this picture for her McNair Scholars profile, and she also submitted this photo to the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists when they featured her in an article—July 2011
My sister was strongly attracted to the paisley design that we learned about in our Eastern textiles design class. She turned the dress into a skirt on this day by folding the top section down. I took this picture for her McNair Scholars profile, and she also submitted this photo to the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists when they featured her in an article—July 2011
I also turned one of Audrey’s dresses into a skirt by folding the top section down. The skirt is actually the lining of the original dress. The second layer was what convinced me to buy the dress because it was different from the outside and I loved the patterning. Wearing this dress at this time was special to me because later in the day I was sitting on a bench and saw my soon to be boyfriend, David, riding his bike and he stopped to talk to me. It was the second time we saw each other and I remember feeling nervous about my outfit. Since it was silk, I was sitting, and it was hot, I thought my skirt would be very wrinkled. But he complimented it and I stopped worrying about the wrinkles—July 2011
I also turned one of Audrey’s dresses into a skirt by folding the top section down. The skirt is actually the lining of the original dress. The second layer was what convinced me to buy the dress because it was different from the outside and I loved the patterning. Wearing this dress at this time was special to me because later in the day I was sitting on a bench and saw my soon to be boyfriend, David, riding his bike and he stopped to talk to me. It was the second time we saw each other and I remember feeling nervous about my outfit. Since it was silk, I was sitting, and it was hot, I thought my skirt would be very wrinkled. But he complimented it and I stopped worrying about the wrinkles—July 2011
This was one of the first dresses I bought from Audrey in Spring 2009. I was very exited to wear it to the Arboretum with David. We were sitting on a dock and he was helping me get up. At this point I was trying to finish my senior collection and I was really stressed out, it was nice to take time to think of which dress I wanted to wear to go to the Arboretum for a short break. I like how this dress was able to act as a stress-reliever when I really needed it—March 2012
This was one of the first dresses I bought from Audrey in Spring 2009. I was very exited to wear it to the Arboretum with David. We were sitting on a dock and he was helping me get up. At this point I was trying to finish my senior collection and I was really stressed out, it was nice to take time to think of which dress I wanted to wear to go to the Arboretum for a short break. I like how this dress was able to act as a stress-reliever when I really needed it—March 2012
This is David’s sister, Cynthia. I was also happy that I was hugged and felt loved by people I really care about while wearing this dress—March 2012.
This is David’s sister, Cynthia. I was also happy that I was hugged and felt loved by people I really care about while wearing this dress—March 2012.
This photo was taken at the beginning of the Signature Collections fashion show at UC Davis. Even though everything leading up to this day was extremely stressful, this was the moment where I would debut my zero-waste collection along with my fellow classmates and their creative collections. I invited Audrey to the show and was very excited to see that she came with her mom. She looked for me at the end of the show and gave me a warm hug and congratulated me. She also noticed that I was wearing one of her dresses. I was happy that she noticed I was wearing one of her dresses on that special day—April 2012
This photo was taken at the beginning of the Signature Collections fashion show at UC Davis. Even though everything leading up to this day was extremely stressful, this was the moment where I would debut my zero-waste collection along with my fellow classmates and their creative collections. I invited Audrey to the show and was very excited to see that she came with her mom. She looked for me at the end of the show and gave me a warm hug and congratulated me. She also noticed that I was wearing one of her dresses. I was happy that she noticed I was wearing one of her dresses on that special day—April 2012
Audrey’s work was extremely influential in developing my interest in sustainable fashion design. This is one of my favorite photos because I am wearing one of Audrey’s dresses alongside my own zero-waste designs from my collection. I am also with a great friend who was also my model, Jessica Dutt—April 2012
Audrey’s work was extremely influential in developing my interest in sustainable fashion design. This is one of my favorite photos because I am wearing one of Audrey’s dresses alongside my own zero-waste designs from my collection. I am also with a great friend who was also my model, Jessica Dutt—April 2012
I love this dress because the print has a lot of cute details that can lead a person to look closer to appreciate the design. It is the original dress from the July 2011 photo. It also has pockets, which was very convenient to me. I wore this to an Art Gallery opening where my sister was exhibiting her senior collection where she used natural colorants—May 2012
I love this dress (left) because the print has a lot of cute details that can lead a person to look closer to appreciate the design. It is the original dress from the July 2011 photo. It also has pockets, which was very convenient to me. I wore this to an Art Gallery opening where my sister exhibited her senior collection where she used natural colorants—May 2012
My sister is wearing a dress given to her by Audrey in Spring 2012. She wore it to the Textiles & Clothing end of the year reception where she got awards for her undergraduate research and accomplishments in textile science. She really liked the inverted triangle because it is an interesting design detail. Nidia was also excited to add her hand-made crochet accessory to contribute her own creativity to the outfit—June 2012
My sister is wearing a dress given to her by Audrey in Spring 2012. She wore it to the Textiles & Clothing end of the year reception where she got awards for her undergraduate research and accomplishments in textile science. She really liked the inverted triangle because it is an interesting design detail. Nidia was also excited to add her hand-made crochet accessory to contribute her own creativity to the outfit—June 2012
Audrey gave me this dress in Spring 2012 and I was so excited to wear it. I loved the unique colors- orange and lavender- the slight sheen, and the creative cut. The dress is so unique and interesting, it was perfect to wear for my graduation—June 2012
Audrey gave me this dress in Spring 2012 and I was so excited to wear it. I loved the unique colors- orange and lavender- the slight sheen, and the creative cut. The dress is so unique and interesting, it was perfect to wear for my graduation—June 2012
I am wearing Audrey's dress under my graduation gown! I am glad that the dress was able to be a part of that special day—June 2012
I am wearing Audrey’s dress under my graduation gown! I am glad that the dress was able to be a part of that special day—June 2012

These narratives will continue to develop as I wear Audrey’s dresses throughout my spring and summers in Ithaca. I will miss seeing her every Spring during the Whole Earth Festival in Davis, but at least I have long-lasting memories of her work and her cheerfulness as motivation to continue to give life to her wonderful clothing.

Ithaca has so many thoughtful designers and artisans. I think that my desire to learn  more about the local farms, farmers and  learning how to knit among a local knitting group is a way that I figuring out what makes Ithaca special for designers and consumers. How can I and others appreciate Ithaca for its true value in light of its natural treasures? I was extremely drawn to Audrey because of her optimism and how she promotes a gift economy.

I feel that animals naturally evoke positivity and innocence with their large eyes and of wondering gaze. The sheep, goats, and alpaca that I have seen are extremely adorable and I would love to have some one day to develop relationships with them. I appreciate that these amazing animals can produce fibers to keep our bodies warm and contribute to our well-being (although this was not the original intention). The animal’s natural growth of hair for yarns and clothes emulates the idea of gift-giving. These animals provide us with a valuable gift that we must appreciate beyond the few months that wearing wool, alpaca, or angora fibers is trendy.

Clothing made out of animal fibers must NOT be treated like fast-fashion clothing where it can simply be donated to someone else, or thrown away, it must be used for as long as possible. The embodied energy required to produce the fibers, yarns, and the garment must be surpassed with extended consumer use. Being able to pass down the garment to future generations would give the clothes more meaning and help in the development of personal narratives with the clothes.

Although Audrey’s dresses are not made of animal fibers, my relationship with her clothes in the last 4 years has led me to develop a strong desire to extend these relationships with my other clothes.

http://audreyacostadesigns.com/

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