Hint seeks out rising stars of design
By Rebecca Voight

  
Andrea Crews. The name itself gives almost nothing away. First, Andrea "can be either a boy in Italy or a girl in Germany," says Maroussia Rebecq, founder of the Paris-based collective. Then there's Crews, which, for her, conjures up images of Tom, Penelope and a crew, or collective, engaged in activism, art and fashion happenings.   

Without being nostalgic for hippiedom, how long has it been since the Merry Pranksters piled onto a bus and set out across the United States? Probably close to fifty years. Today, the art/fashion mix is best summed up by Louis Vuitton and Takashi Murakami churning out an endless stream of pricey status collectibles for handbag addicts—more commerce than art.

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Andrea Crews
Andrea Crews, fall/winter 2008
Artists having their way with fashion is nothing new, but the results are always provocative and, sometimes, startlingly good. Maroussia Rebecq, who comes from France's Bordeaux region, although her name sounds like she popped out of a bottle, began using fashion in her performance art before she moved into her own atelier d'artiste in 2005, thanks to a grant.

"After the performances, people started asking me to do clothes and Andrea Crews grew out of that," she says. Now Rebecq is becoming part of the fashion system. "I want to become stronger and understand fashion so I can subvert it," she says matter-of-factly.

Rebecq and her crew work with a ready-made stock of T-shirts, sweatshirts and other casual garments, which they appliqué, screen print and artfully tear apart before reconstructing into completely new garments. While the concept isn't new, the result is anything but predictable. This season's fried-egg dress and the They Say Summer, I Say Sorrow tunic—with the words spilling out like tears from a pair of cartoon eyes over the boobs—look more Marcel Duchamp than Christian Dior.

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A sweatshirt covered with gold eyes, a Rorschach inkblot T-shirt dress and a hoody with a full cat mask are jokes verging on clothes—all in sexy, simple and short shapes that look ready to fly off at any moment. Yes, Andrea Crews is sexy. And its shows during Paris Fashion Week, featuring attractive friends instead of models, are more intimate and immediate than those runway extravaganzas at the Grand Palais. And judging from photos, it looks as if a lot of the "real" models, especially girls with great tits, removed at least part of their clothing at the after-party at Chez Moune, the notorious lesbian boǐte in the sex district of Pigalle. That's always a good sign.

Rebecq's atelier is in Pigalle, too. That's where she and the Crews crew hang out, creating and selling the limited-edition part of the collection, which, unfortunately, doesn't come cheap. Currently in stock are a bunch of secondhand mountaineering sweaters that have left the great outdoors far, far behind.  

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Andrea Crews Andrea Crews Andrea Crews
Andrea Crews’ recent dance performance in Transylvania
And that's where activism comes in. Originally, Rebecq wanted to make fashion as art while saving the planet. That meant having French charities deliver bails of secondhand clothes to her atelier, with the idea of making new, cool clothes out of discards, rather than polluting the environment by starting from scratch. Unfortunately the boutiques she showed the one-offs to didn't get it. "They all wanted to order ten pieces of the one-offs. So we had to go back to the drawing board," says Rebecq.

Andrea Crews collective is as much about partying as it is about (an eventual) business. Its ateliers de transformations—a sort of consciousness- and style-raising roadshow, which has traveled the museum circuit from New Jersey to Mexico—is designed to bring the message to the people. Equipped with a bundle of old clothes and sewing machines, Crews sets up its atelier anywhere and everywhere. This gives the general public the chance to experience a DIY extreme makeover that transforms castoffs into Andrea Crews must-haves. (cont'd)


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