A mixed blog of fashion goodies
Have an idea for the Hint Blog? Email us.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 11, 2008

Peggy and Poly

Liz Armstrong...

After catching my breath from a whirlwind road trip to Chicago, where some friends and I spent a weekend partying with CSS, I caught up with Kansas City's Peggy Noland, who designs costumes for the band's frontwoman, Lovefoxxx. (Peggy has also designed costumes for Ssion frontman—and half-Boy London dreamboat, half-gypsy lion tamer—Cody Critcheloe.) We met on CSS's bus, parked behind the bare-fleshed fairgrounds of Lollapalooza, munching on candy necklaces while watching the band freak out laughing and singing wild songs in Portuguese. Clear outsiders, we became instant friends...

Peggy in her store / Ssion onstage

You looked absolutely perfect throughout our trip, even in the melting hot sun, even after partying all day and night, even when harassed by frat boys, even getting champagne poured all over you. The rest of us looked like we were ridden hard and put away wet. How do you pull it off?
ColorStay make up! I swear by it! What am I going to do if they discontinue it? Shit!

Wanna tell me the basics of how you got started designing?
The path I have found is completely unexpected. I had not intended to make clothing or own a store. My major in college, after an experience working in New Delhi, was Religious Studies. Then I applied for the Peace Corps and didn't get in, and now I am here.

Um, you were on a religious path and then you found god in designing spandex jumpsuits?
(Laughs.) You know, I'm still figuring that one out, too. I had an amazing job after high school working for a clothing line in New Delhi that required me to be there by myself for extended periods of time. It's probably pretty easy to imagine why my priorities changed. All of a sudden, clothing and fashion were a very low priority for me. It’s a Third World country and here I was, this middle-class white girl making clothes. It felt sooooo trite. Honestly, I was ashamed. Long story short: as soon as I was rejected from the Peace Corps and back in Kansas City, my priorities obviously shifted once again. A retail space opened up, and I fought hard for it and got it. Then I learned how to sew. Crazy, I know. And here I am today.

Why stay in Kansas City?
I have a retail store here that I am in love with, and it completely changes every four to six months: the environment, the clothing and otherwise. The newest installation is floor-to-ceiling Polyfil. We wanted to confuse the typical idea of what retail is so we lowered the ceiling four feet—good or bad, comfortable or not. Other than my store, Kansas City is a weird place to be. I stay focused and inspired here. A community that supports its artists is hard to find, and harder to leave. If you can get here, and if you can tap into this energy, you’ll see an incredible ambition—perhaps spiraling from an angry, even jealous boredom that attracts and demands attention. When you find yourself in a city whose energy isn't particularly invested in its youth culture, you find your source of creativity is completely unique and, perhaps more importantly, unaffected.

What's the proper name of your retail store, and what’s in it? Do you actually sell garments made of that Polyfil stuff?
Oh yeah, babe! People think it's weird, or a joke, or stupid—and I guess it kind of is all of those things. The name of the store is Peggy Noland—Kansas City, although there is no name on the window.

Word on the street is you make a lot of your own prints. Is that true?
Yes ma'am! It's true!

It seems like you're into giving form to freeform materials. Is this something you do consciously?
No, I guess not, although there is an intentional sculptural element to what I do. “Soft sculpture” is a category that many of my designs fit into.

You teach at an art school?
I’ve just accepted a teaching position at the Kansas City Art Institute. I'm the Sewn Construction teacher. I'm replacing a woman who has been teaching in the Fibers department for some time now, so I have big shoes to fill. Also this year I'm collaborating with a number of artists. Of particular interest is a capsule collection with Malcolm Stewart and Bec Stupac of the Brazilian collective avaf [assume vivid astro focus]. It's an expansion of personal work for all of us, with an emphasis on the unwearable wearable.

Let’s expand on the topic of the unwearable wardrobe. What's the point? I ain't being sassy, I'm just asking questions like a journalist. How the hell would you sell this stuff? Know what I mean?
I like sass, girl! Yeah, I get what you're saying. These pieces appeal to a customer who's an art collector more than a ready-to-wear buyer. The design and price reflect that. Having a retail space in Kansas City has been challenging, but the challenge isn't finding a customer. Customers exist here, there just aren't many of them. It's been an “If you build it, they will come” experience.

Labels: , , , ,