I am not a designer. I have never designed anything that someone would actually wear so when kate of Gypsy Hawaii asked me to help her design a clutch for her new collection I was at a complete loss.
While in New York on a buying trip, Kate and I spent several hours in the Met, in magazine shops, strolling NYC for inspiration for her next collection. We finally decided that the new collection would be inspired by the New York of the late 70s and early 80s that she was born in. Punk inspired imagery, songs and literature ruled our emails and conversations. Kate was nostalgic for New York the way I became nostalgic for Paris and my time spent in my teens and early 20s there. The freedom we imagined of song writers, painters, photographers and artists in New York in the 70s was constantly on my mind. That freedom of youth, of innocence, of first loves and late nights. When I thought about these feelings I thought about my early days in Paris at 19 and how free I felt there although I had no idea how to speak the language at the time, no idea how I was going to manage the next 4 years of college there or what I was even going to study.. but it didn’t matter, I was 19, somewhere completely new, and free. I was ndependent for the first time in my life. It is liberating isn’t it?
When we sat down to talk about the clutch Kate said she wanted to incorporate graffiti into it. I was so unsure of how to design anything with graffiti and was sure I couldn’t actually draw graffiti so I pushed for a lipstick kiss, something we both tossed around about how to incorporate it into the collection. Looking for inspiration I started looking through images I took on my last trip to Paris, I had completely forgotten about the photo I took of some graffiti I found on the side of a building near my old apartment in the 4th Arrondissement. It said, “Etre libre de temps en temps” which translates to “be free from time to time”. It was such a good reminder that, in my early 30s I could still feel the freedom and energy of my teens, my early 20s, that I took a quick snapshot. I intended to print it but it somehow only ended up on Instagram. I looked at this image for a bit, remembering the print I intended to make, the one I finally did make for my friend Ally and the tattoo that is now on her left arm inspired by that print. Sitting in my studio I thought about that photo and all of the feelings I bring and take away with me any time I create anything. Freedom is sweet music, it is a night under the stars, an empty city street, it’s a stroll along the seine, a lesson learned, a new friend made, an old friend revisited. Freedom is all of ours, we just need to remember to actually be free and let go sometimes. So like the graffiti reminded me in the middle of the street in Paris, I wanted to share that little moment, that sweet reminder to be free, to let go, to just Etre Libre de Temps en Temps….