September 08, 2008
"I like to think of it as 'Dust Bowl creativity,' " the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist John Patrick said of his most ambitious collection to date, a sun-bleached-and-faded homage to thirties prairie life. The Depression was an era, he said, of "crazy resourcefulness," and Okie spirit ran through his wearable mix of gingham dobby-pleated blouses, faded cuffed shorts, recycled polyester trousers, and well-tailored but unconfining blazers. Cotton voile tops with ruffle trim were left sleeveless, the idea being that back in WPA days, leftover fabric would be scrimped, saved, and used to make, say, a much-needed pair of pants. What makes all this more than just some design conceit is Organic's ethical focus. Seventy percent of the line is made entirely from sustainable materials right here in the U.S., with the organic knitwear produced by Patrick's cottage-industry artisans in Peru. The jewelry, which echoed the folksy mood while simultaneously upping the sophistication level several notches, was done in collaboration with Fallon designer Dana Lorenz: A tangle of fabric scraps, chains, and scavenged lockets were done up as necklaces, bracelets, and rings. "I'm not making fashion," Patrick asserted before the show. "I'm just making clothes." Well, yes, butluckily for him (and his workers)this isn't actually Oklahoma, and a New York audience knows fashion when it sees it.