by Susan Piperato
Fashion is many things to many people — whether it’s based on a desire to appear chic, bold, subtle, retro, playful, or sexy or to find the beautiful in the ugly and use it to startle. But whatever fashion is in, you can count on it having started in the international fashion capital of New York City. And yet more than a few so-called New York fashion designers make their home in the Hudson Valley. They create freely here, away from Seventh Avenue, and draw on local natural beauty as inspiration for creating clothing that’s both glamorous and practical.
Clothing and Handbags
Lisa Scalf is a Kentucky native who spent 20 years working in New York’s fashion industry as a patternmaker before relocating to New Kingston. There she creates women’s clothing for clients like Nini O that’s completely contemporary, sophisticatedly urban, and yet evocative of Classical goddesses. Scalf’s skill at fashion mashups is perhaps best evidenced by her current Butterfly Urban Bustle and Chuba Dress. She’s also a skilled maker of cleanly designed and colorful Handmade With Love handbags. Find her work at Catskill Mountain Artisans Guild, a bright, airy gallery at 785 Main Street in Margaretville.
Canvas Clothing and
Husband-and-wife team Hal Grano and Jillian Kaufman Grano founded Utility Canvas in Gardiner in 1990, drawing upon Jillian’s extensive background in fashion design and Hal’s longtime experience with all things canvas as a canoe guide. Together they focus on making use of the highest-quality canvas materials and workmanship, focusing on alternative styles that are simple, practical and versatile—not to mention elegant. Find children’s and adults’ outerwear, aprons and bags online and at the Gardiner store. Watch for Utility Canvas’s annual sale, usually held in June.
Hats for Women and Children
Carole Amper, Inc.
At a studio in historic Uptown Kingston, milliner Carole Amper makes women’s and children’s hats that are fun, sassy, romantic and/or whimsical takes for summer and winter on classic fedoras, Westerns, floggies, flappers, cloches, boaters, tams, berets, pillboxes, lampshades, Panamas and sunhats. Whether you’re looking for the perfect top-off for a wedding outfit, high tea, sailing, or a long walk on a cold day, Carole Amper’s hats are guaranteed to make you smile. Choose from straw, velvet (including Persian), velour, damask, cotton, linen, suede, leather and crochet—to be topped with swirl roses, feathers, bows, embroidery and even Mayan ribbons. Faux fur accessories are also available, along with fanciful gloves in a variety of materials. Prices range from about $18 to $80.
Handcrafted Leather and
Rusty Dorr Originals
For the past 41 years, Rusty Dorr has been handcrafting Native American- and American West-inspired outerwear and accessories. Working with American deerskin, Spanish lamb, sheared beaver, and a small number of wild furs (including coyote), Dorr cuts, punches and laces each coat, jacket and accessory by hand, earning her accolades from magazines such as Vogue, GQ, Playboy, True West, Yippy Yi Yea, Catskill Mountain Region Guide, and The Country & Abroad. Her hairpipe and beadwork have added to her reputation. Dorr’s unisex patterns allow her to fit people of all shapes and sizes and she is constantly adding to her line, most recently with the more elaborate Night Rider, Ghost Rider, Fantasia, Ghost Rides Again, and Turtle Duster jackets. Dorr’s work is featured regularly at craft shows throughout the Northeast. In 2000 she built a second studio, open by appointment only, to accommodate visitors at her Catskills home, where she is inspired by the beauty of the natural world surrounding her.
Custom-fit Shoes and Sandals,
The Lost Art of Living
Liza Belle Burke
As a traditional cobbler, Liza Belle Burke isn’t just a leather smith—she makes sculptural sandals, shoes and boots with hand-molded cowhide arches and patterns finished with brass tacks that fit right to the foot. “I do things a lot of people don’t do anymore,” she says simply. Burke trained as a traditional shoemaker and apprenticed in New York City before moving up to Margaretville in 2003. Make an appointment to meet with Burke for a fitting for custom leather sandals, shoes, boots and belts or look for her wholesale footwear, bags and wallets featured locally at Catskill Mountain Artisans Guild and the Woodstock General Store, and in New York City at Love Adorned, or on etsy.com.
Owner Tina, who works with her mom and daughter, accompanied by Sid the family parrot, says she’s the luckiest person in the world because she gets “to play all day”—whether demonstrating or teaching the fiber arts of weaving, spinning, knitting, rug hooking and dying yarns. She began her career learning to groom a few Angora goats her mom had acquired, and learning to shear. Now she spends her days weaving, spinning, knitting, crocheting and rug hooking using hand-dyed fibers to create one-of-a-kind pieces sold at local events, craft fairs, and at home in Mountain Yarns shop in Margaretville, as well as via her website.
Hand Knit by Turid
Turid Murad is a native Norwegian transplanted to Margaretville who specializes in knitting traditional Norwegian sweaters and hats. Find her wonderful work at Mountain Yarns and the Catskill Mountain Artisans Guild.
Complete comfort, utter beauty and total originality are what set Christine Fromm’s designs apart—and that’s just for starters. Fromm, based in New Paltz, makes one-of-a-kind handmade clothing and accessories using secondhand and vintage clothes, mixing and matching in unexpected ways every fabric from cashmere to lace. The results are not simply feminine and romantic—these are clothes that are eminently wearable and functional and yet will haunt your dreams. Find them locally at Verde (3 N. Front Street, New Paltz, 845-255-4500) or Unison Crafts Fair.
Harry and the Hippy Chic
Eva Fox, aka Harry and the Hippie Chic, upcycles vintage and used clothing to create handcrafted Bohemian delights. Fox, a local who mysteriously identifies her setting merely as Hippieville, USA, offers ready-to-wear and custom-made hand-sewn items that fulfill a woman’s every clothing need—arm- and leg-warmers, scarves, tops, skirts, pants, dresses, jackets, vests, jumpers, onesies, overalls, ponchos and coats—and mood. And they’re highly affordable, ranging from $18 to about $60 on average. There is real wit to be found in Fox’s work, whether in the juxtaposition of colors, the proliferation of ruffles, or the appearance of eyes on arm- and leg-warmers. Fox’s clothes are conceived in fun and meant to be worn that way. Among her more popular custom-made items are custom coats, priced at $300, which features a pointy hood, thumbholes, a squishy skirt, and up to three rows of hem—made with dozens of strips of used sweaters and every permutation of every color.
A Plethora Of Local Boutiques
carrying other unique fall fashions
In addition to patronizing individual artists, check out some of the many boutiques in the area. These shops carry an assortment of hand-crafted items from near and far.
Handmade N More, New Paltz
High Fall Mercantile, High Falls
Himalayan Arts, New Paltz
Marigold Home, Kingston
Nectar Imports, High Falls
Spruce, High Falls
Tender Land Home, Phoenicia
Waddle & Swaddle, Rhinebeck
White Barn Farm Sheep and Wool, Gardiner