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MARFA & FEMINISM BY LOS ANGELES DESIGNER KIELEY KIMMEL

July 11, 2013

There are so many different ways that I have discovered artists along my path, each one speaking to me in a unique vision that I immediately feel compelled to share with the rest of the world. I’ve come to think of myself as a conduit for artistic expression, someone that shares the treasures of creativity that I find along my path.  It is always exciting to discover something new, most especially in a place where it is unexpected.

I spotted Kieley Kimmel’s collection along my Southwest Pilgrimage in the wonderful and inspiring tiny town of Marfa, Texas.  On our way into town, we stopped at the adorable Shop Freda and Kieley’s collection was featured along with many other of my favorite artists from LA to Brooklyn. Owner, Susannah Lipsey told us all about Kieley and that she was a designer living in Los Angeles that had created a collection based on her experience in Marfa.  I was immediately mesmerized by her prints and intrigued by her inspiration.  I knew I had to meet Kieley and find out more.

Last week during my visit in LA I was able to visit Kieley in her downtown studio and find out about her experience in Marfa and discuss her plans for the future of her brand.

The adorable Kieley in her modern loft studio in downtown Los Angeles

The adorable Kieley in her modern loft studio in downtown Los Angeles

Kieley studied fashion painting and textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design and for her thesis project, she decided to move to Marfa on a whim with her older sister, who now works at Ballroom Marfa as a curator.  During her 4 month stay, she took a series of photographs that inspired her first project, Marfakind.  Inspired by the landscape and architecture of this small West Texas town, her photos were the starting point to the textiles she would soon create.  From the chain link fences to the minimalist landscape, deserted buildings, cacti, Donald Judd’s influence, and the open skyline, Marfakind’s prints are a beautiful representation of her photographic story.

Kieley showing me her Markakind project

Kieley showing me her Markakind project

Marfakind

Marfakind

From photograph to a garment you can see how her inspiration is interpreted

From photograph to a garment you can see how her inspiration is interpreted

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I came home with this sweater!!

Kieley starts her process with a photograph, then hand paints over it and scans it into a computer. From there she uses photoshop to manipulate the print to her final artistic result.  She finishes some fabric by hand-painting over the prints and she does all of her own screen printing.  This girl is beyond talented. Like most textile designers, she approaches the design process by first creating the prints and the textiles allowing the silhouettes to reveal themselves based on the mood.

I am so drawn to Kieley’s sense of color and am so inspired by the palette of her Marfakind collection. When I look at it, I immediately enter a dreamlike state and find myself walking through the town of Marfa taking in all of it’s unique surroundings.

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A pile of swatches from her Marfakind project

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Kieley also hand knits all of her first samples.  Seriously dying over all of these!

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Her sense of color is reflected throughout her studio

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Her Marfakind lookbook on display

It took Kieley 3 years to develop her Marfakind project from start to finish and when it was ready, she knew she wanted to go back to Marfa to shoot the lookbook. Marfakind was destined for greatness and this lookbook secured the magic. On a lark, she asked esteemed photographer Alexis Dahan if he might be interested in going to Marfa with her and he took her up on her offer.  Their model for the shoot, Drake Burnette, got scouted during their stay in Marfa and has now gone on to be featured in many major advertising campaigns including Marni, Stella McCartney, Missoni and Jen Kao to name a few. The lookbook is a beautiful reflection of Kieley’s work and the unique landscape that Marfa has become famous for.

Her loft is open and airy with views of downtown Los Angeles

Her loft is open and airy with views of downtown Los Angeles

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Studio moments

Beautiful color

Beautiful color

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Color and Texture lay everywhere as a reminder

Everywhere I looked in her studio I was inspired by color and texture. Although complex in design, there is a quiet nature to her prints with her use of color.

Textile samples created for interior fabrications

Textile samples created for interior fabrications

So beautiful!

So beautiful!

Kieley’s Marfakind collection was produced in a very small run with only 5 pieces made per style.  She got the word out about what she was doing by sending out lookbooks to some of her favorite stores nationwide and by word of mouth only.  She garnered attention when she featured the collection for a trunk show at Weltenbuerger in Los Feliz and soon after she started on her next project for Fall 2013: Revolt, She Said.

The start of her process for Fall 2013

The start of her process for Fall 2013

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Samples of textures she wanted to mimic in her Fall 2013 collection

Kieley is a very intellectual artist, which I love, and her inspiration for her Fall collection came from Donna Haraway’s essay The Cyborg Manifesto which criticizes traditional notions of feminism in the late 21st century.  She was inspired by science and technology and got to thinking about who the “future woman” might be.  She borrowed the name for the collection from Julia Kristeva’s book, Revolt, She Said, and began to create a collection that asked questions about what it means to be an ideal woman. The collection was designed for a modern cyborg: part animal, machine and human.  The result is minimalist prints in a neutral palette and fabrications that mimic plastics, transparency and embody utility.

Fall 2013, Revolt She Said

Fall 2013, Revolt She Said

This print was created from an aerial photograph of flamingos. Love!

This print was created from an aerial photograph of flamingos. Love!

Wearing one of my favorite dresses from the collection, Kieley talks to me about her inspiration

Wearing one of my favorite dresses from the collection, Kieley talks to me about her inspiration

So in love with one of her best sellers of the season, this hand knit sweater

So in love with one of her best sellers of the season, this hand knit sweater

Close up

Close up

Another favorite print

Another favorite print

It didn’t take long for top stores to take notice of Kieley and for the fall season you can find her in some of the top boutiques in the country including:  Tenoversix, Shop Freda, Leap, Assembly, Una, Beklina, Pour Porter, Verdalina and Spiritual America.  She will be showing her next collection at the Capsule tradeshow in NYC and I feel sure she will soon be making her way overseas and into many more boutiques across the country.  Price points of the collection range between $200-$800.

This is only the beginning for Kieley and I feel without a shadow of a doubt that this little lady is going places.  Make sure to keep on eye on what she is up to by visiting her website, following her on instagram and you for sure want to check out her Tumblr page-this girl has a seriously inspiring eye for imagery and color.

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