5 Questions with Local Fashion Designer Brooke Priddy

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5 Questions with Local Fashion Designer Brooke Priddy

  • Lauryn Higgins

    Lauryn Higgins is a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she is studying Journalism and Mass Communication. She spends her weekdays working in PR and her...

Photo by Lynne Harty

In a sea of cookie-cutter fashion, Brooke Priddy is quielty demanding to stand out.

Her one-of-a-kind pieces show the impecable artistry and intense skill level she possesses. From prom dresses to wedding gowns, she's equally every girl's fairy godmother and best friend when you walk into her downtown studio; transforming women into walking works of art. From more streamlined, simpler looks to incredibly ornate pieces, Brooke seems to have the gift of making women feel like chic models, Goddesses, or princesses. Or maybe a bit of each.

 

Lauryn Higgins: You’re incredibly active in obvisouly the local fashion scene, but also the arts scene including the {Re}Happening. What led you to Asheville?

Brooke Priddy: I am very close with my folks and they moved here in the 90’s. At that time I was living in San Francisco, going to SFAI and coming home for the holidays yearly. Every time I visited, I didn’t want to leave. In 2000 I moved to NYC and lived there for a few years and it became easier to drop in on Asheville and spend time here. One holiday storm kept me from traveling back to the city and I had the greatest New Years Eve of my life partying at Vincent’s Ear and meeting so many engaging, dedicated artists and musicians. It was a wonderful realization that this place, so beautiful and already feeling like home, could also hold so much cultural inspiration. So, I resolved to move here and expand my business into a full time career while still maintaining my art practice.

 

Lauryn: You design dresses and formal gowns and then create them by hand. How did you discover that you had this passion and wonderful talent? And what led you to pursue this full time?

Brooke: I have always had a taste for the unique and unknown. Personal style is such an immediate and accessible outlet for self-expression. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by makers and artisans all of my life. My mother sewed my clothes from patterns as a young girl and my grandmother had an extensive collection of handmade lace. She was a prolific craftsperson. My father is a consummate DIY’er, a self-taught woodworker and jack of all trades. They inspired me to put great value in handwork and originality. I began developing ideas for my own designs at a very young age and their example and encouragement helped me to manifest them. I was very lucky.

 

Lauryn: What is a typical day for you?

Brooke:

drink tea// get nourished

seek out beauty // personal practice

climb email mountain

make something that has never before been made

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make time for nature, it at all possible

make another new thing

more tea // nourishment

play + love // share

sweet sleep

Brooke Priddy in her studio. Photo by Nicole McConville

Lauryn: Of all the dresses you’ve created, does one in particular stand out as your favorite?

Brooke: As an artist with a background in installation and performance, I love to create garments that tell a story and have a life of their own. Here is a personal favorite from my body of work- The following is a quote from Steven Matijcio, curator at the Southeast Center for Contemporary Art:

“As a Piscean, Priddy also has a special relationship with water - looking to it for physical and philosophical inspiration. Regarding the latter, Taoism often refers to water in its pursuit of the path of least resistance; finding its way around all obstacles through mercurial and adaptive means. When designing dresses in her custom studio (“Ship to Shore”), Priddy follows a similar tact stating, “I love a fluid line that moves around the wearer like water.” In the process of sewing such garments –from prom gowns to wedding dresses – she also creates signposts for passage in life. As a case in point, Priddy performed the first By Sea (2007) on a scheduled Georgia lake as part of a commitment ceremony between her and her life partner. In that context, the Deep South influenced her fabric choice as she wrapped a cabbage rose print (“like Scarlett O’ Hara in her youth”) around body and boat.”

 

Lauryn: Can you tell our readers what they can expect at the sample sale you’re having March 21st?

Brooke: There will be a large selection of one-of-a-kind garments. About three quarters of the inventory will be bridal and gowns, but many of the designs are not so obvious and traditional – but wearable for a variety of occasions. There will be something for everyone – as my take on bridal is not the expected. Every item is handmade and completely original. With my focus being on commissioned gowns, this is a once-a-year opportunity to find great deals on ready-to-wear dresses, with discounts up to 60% off. This will also be an open house, so people are welcome to drop in to tour the sewing room and design studio.


 

Brooke's sale is this Saturday, March 21, 2015.