Sunday, April 21, 2013

It's a Coat and an Art Piece!

Sporting my new coat. 

I'm attracted to apparel with a unique, original, artful edge to it. And if it comes with some history or story, then I'm completely charmed and entranced. Like my Hermès Pony Express scarf designed by postal worker Kermit Oliver. (Just realized I haven't written about that yet. I'll do that!) And if that clothing item is signed by the artist, hanging on the rack, fits and is ready for me to take home, then I'm sunk. I might as well just hand over my credit card and stop all the silly "should I or shouldn't I."

Which is what happened when fashion friend forever (BFFF) Karen alerted me to an article she saw in the Style section of the San Francisco Chronicle back in January. Artist, Ann Hamilton, designed and made available for sale a denim coat that was part of a larger bi-coastal art project.

Hamilton created an installation, "The Event of a Thread" at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, from December 5, 2012 to January 6, 2013. In the cavernous hangar-like space, Hamilton hung at one end floor-to-ceiling white billowing curtains and at the other placed tables where actors in denim coats (!) read, wrote and sang, while in the center of the space, 42 swings with seats large enough for two people hung from the ceiling. I didn't see the installation, but I can imagine that it was a wonderful, sensation to glide through the air and be a participant and an observer at the same time.

Ann Hamilton's installation at the Park Avenue Armory. Photo by C.T. Jeanson

Before this, Hamilton did a residency at The Workshop Residence in San Francisco during the fall of 2012. Located in Dogpatch, created by longtime San Francisco art activator and philanthropist Ann Hatch, to give artists and designers a place to create usable and affordable items and a shop in which to sell them. During her residency, Hamilton designed and had manufactured in Oakland, this slightly military uniform-like coat, reminiscent of a gentleman's redingote from the 1800's.

Front of the coat.

Back of the coat.
1819 Costumes Parisiens,
man in redingote

The initial batch of 200 coats sold out, but Karen put our names on the list for the next run and as soon as they were ready we went down to The Workshop Residence just to "look." Long story short, they didn't even have to put it in a bag for me. I wore it out of the shop, instantly enjoying the feel and drama of the back flare when I walked. And I'm so happy to know about this place now. It's a very exciting well-run creative beehive with many great ideas.

This is the darling Katie McCracken who runs the gallery shop and helped me with my coat purchase.

The shop with cool well-priced creations by artists with past residencies, like Jennifer Morla, Aurore Thibout and Dirk Van Saene.

A signed art piece that I can wear? And it's practical too? Yes!


  1. I love that coat. And I love the picture of you striding along (the shoes are also fantastic.)

  2. And aren't you lucky to live in a coat-friendly city like SF? Great photo and lovely post.

  3. What a great story Lesa! Is "redingoat" a variation on the term "weddingcoat?"