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July 22 2014

styledotcom Is activewear as ready-to-wear really so revolutionary? Norma Kamali's been doing it since the '80s. stylem.ag/1o1xLOi

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crochet gauze meets joan of arc

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Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. Mona Kowalska can attest to the truth of that particular proverb herself: Faced with a daunting euro/dollar exchange rate, the A Détacher designer decided to improvise a version of a favorite fabric, and wound up liking her adaptation so much more than the original that she was inspired to stage a fashion show for the first time in more than five years. “When you come up with something this nice, you want to spend a little longer with it,” Kowalska explained, fondling a jacket made from hand-crocheted patches of hospital gauze. “I love these pieces, they’re like summer furs. I did a hand-crochet of shoelaces, too.” Creative problem-solving like that helps to explain why Kowalska has become something of a legend to the fans who’ve flocked to her A Détacher storefront in Nolita over the past decade. And perhaps it’s only fitting that for her tenth anniversary collection, which she’s showing tonight, Kowalka chose as her muse another woman who made an outsize impression from limited means: Joan of Arc. “I wanted to reflect Joan’s vulnerability and not just do a bunch of armored looks.” Though an armor influence can be detected, Kowalska has channeled Joan into pieces—especially featherweight dresses and hand-woven knits—that are profoundly oversized. “You wear armor in the first place because you’re vulnerable. You feel small, so you make yourself big.”

Photo: Courtesy of A Detacher

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