It’s easy to admire the meticulous craftsmanship in the one-of-a-kind pieces showcased at the annual American Craft Council (ACC) fair.
But sometimes it’s hard to know how to make these wearables work with your everyday wardrobe.
More than 200 artisans will show their contemporary jewelry, clothing and accessories, as well as furniture and home accents, April 8-10 at RiverCentre in St. Paul. The caliber of work is spectacular, said Pam Diamond, marketing director for the ACC. “But when you walk into the show — it can be visual overload. You need a professional’s eye to put the artists’ pieces together.”
In past years, the ACC has staged interior design exhibits demonstrating how craft pieces can blend in home settings. Collaborating with stylists to share wardrobing tips was the next logical step, Diamond said. Enter “Style Slam,” an event at this year’s fair.
Local stylist Grant Whittaker recruited four Twin Cities stylemakers to select pieces from the show and then use them in smart, edgy ensembles. “I’m hoping to find some awesome jewelry, bags and scarves,” said Davee Ek, a Minneapolis visual stylist/producer. “Then pair them with some beautiful dresses.”
On April 9 at the Style Slam booth, four ACC members will be chosen as models for makeovers, including hair and makeup. Whittaker will host a live presentation illustrating how to make statement pieces the “star” of your outfit.
“We also try to educate people about the artists who create the haute couture of the craft world,” said Whittaker, who is also a creative director. “And what it means to make something unique by hand.”
The crafts include everything from tie-dyed silk jackets, to stunning gold and silver jewelry, to scarves, hats and shawls in colors and prints you are unlikely to see in area boutiques. Prices range from fashion accessories for under $100 to high-end investment pieces.
Attendees can meet artisans and ask questions about their works.“You can go from booth to booth and hear the artists’ stories,” said Whittaker, “and own something that’s really personal.”
Here are some tips for taking in the show:
• Keep an eye out for “standout” clothing and accessories that you can’t find at a local boutique or department store. “Venture out of your comfort zone and hunt for pieces that are unlike anything else in your closet,” said Ek.
• Find a particular statement piece that inspires you, such as a colorful brooch or necklace, and build an outfit around it. “The one-of-a-kind jewelry is the star,” said Whittaker.
• Add an arty statement piece to a “blank slate” black coat or dress from your closet.
• Pair a gender-neutral canvas bag with a sport coat and dark denim, matching the bag’s leather accents to shoes or belt.
• Add a scarf that highlights the gemstone colors in earrings to make it pop.
• Use a bold piece to make a stunning statement. “I have this really beautiful jeweled bolo tie from a designer in New York,” said Ek. “I throw it on top of a blouse and jeans and it makes an outfit instantly special and personal.”
• A canvas tote can do double duty as a work/laptop bag. Since it’s more casual, “I would wear it with a slouchy blazer, destroyed denim and sneakers,” said Ek.
• For the fashion newbie, start small and simple with a little brooch or necklace, not clothing with racy patterns or prints.
• Mix showy jewelry with basics, such as denim. “Looking fabulous doesn’t have to be reserved for special occasions,” said Ek.