Creatures of the Wind

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Oh my darling, cling to me

For we’re creatures of the wind

And wild is the wind, the wind

Wild is my love for you

 ~ Johnny Mathis

“Music is a huge influence for us,” explains Shane Gabier during their fashion workshop. “It lends a cinematic quality to life,” adds his partner, Christopher Peters. It makes sense that music drives the designers – the lines above, from the song “Wild Is the Wind”, are where they got the name for their line, Creatures of the Wind.

Gabier and Peters started their quirky and stylish line in 2007 in Chicago, where Gabier worked as a fashion design professor. Their first collection, Spring 2011, caught the attention of Barney’s, and from there the line grew in size and esteem, receiving such esteemed fashion design awards as the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund in 2011 and the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear. Now based in New York City, Shane and Christopher continue to bring their unique vision to the fashion industry.

One of the many amazing features of SCAD Lacoste are the three day intense workshops they create for the students, bringing in industry talent to interact one-on-one with students and give them a taste of what it’s like to make your passion into a real living with practical, hands on advice. The fashion students’ task, set up by The Creatures (as we call them), was to pair up and create a collection based on abstract expressions, which they had to show via various sketches and inspiration boards. As seniors, each of these students will spend the entire year working up to a final collection of their creation. This workshop acted as a boot camp on getting inspiration, figuring the individual stories they want to tell, and learning to express their ideas in physical pieces. The girls worked hard for several days in the brightly lit studio of Maison Basse, and after receiving tips and encouragement from Gabiers and Peters, presented their final sketches, taking the next step toward becoming designers themselves.

We were able to stop by the workshop and hear the sage advice of the wonderfully creative Creatures boys…

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“It’s important to work with other people – to react to what they show you, to react to their reactions of what you bring, to explore every tangent and every path to see where you go and what connects with you…that will ultimately help you make your work.”

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We attended the workshop with fashion writer Lynn Yaeger, photographing her experience in Lacoste for Vogue.com

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Savannah College of Art & Design ~ Lacoste

SCAD Lacoste France

Remember how we fell in love with SCAD in Savannah, Georgia? How we figured out how to put the pieces in place so that all our creative dreams could have a greater chance of coming true…. well, I found out they had a campus in the south of France which is just a totally unfair to those of us NOT in school anymore, and wildly romantic and inspiring for these students who are or will be to nurture their creative talent in a place so famous for the arts (ok, THIS and THAT and ooooo, THIS)

Many students arrive on the Savannah College of Art & Design Lacoste campus and immediately start singing songs from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast… I mean, how can you not, it’s a medieval town with blue shutters on all the windows, lace curtains, flowers everywhere and whose residents number only in the hundreds. So, first question. How does an art school end up in a tiny village made of stone on top of a hill?

Bernard Pfriem, a Texan painter and sculptor, fell in love with Lacoste after he bought a home there, and founded Lacoste School of the Arts in 1970. After Pfriem’s death in 1996, the school lost its champion and began to fall into disrepair. Several colleges traded partnership with the school, but it was a chance encounter with one of SCAD’s historic preservationists that eventually led to SCAD taking control in 2002 and doing what SCAD does best… saving, renovating, and turning it into one of the greatest creative institutions.

Today, an intimate number of 80 selected students can study abroad at SCAD Lacoste in four different sessions of the year, though the classes work on a rotating schedule. When we came to visit earlier this summer, there were courses in fashion, screenwriting, photography, animation, documentary film, art history, and printmaking. Walking around the campus, which reaches from Cafe de Sade at the bottom of the hill to the famous Château de Lacoste at the top, it’s easy to see why anyone would want to study the arts here. Away from the noise and distractions of city life, you can focus in on your thoughts, dreams, talents all the while having the tools and top notch technology provided to you by SCAD.

Some may be surprised that people choose to study in a small medieval village, but for these students, there’s not much better than this provincial life of making memories and art as bright as the fields of sunflowers.

MAISON BASSE

First let’s set the scene…(brace yourself for jealousy)

Maison Basse began as a one-room farmhouse built on top of 13th century Roman ruins in the valley between Lacoste and Bonnieux. If that’s not a beginning, I don’t know what is. Since then, it has lived many lives – as a silkworm farm, an inn, and a guesthouse and gambling space for the de Sade family. After SCAD had successfully saved a 13th century Roman wall, back to the whole champions of historic preservation thing, they ended up with a new project on their hands, that of Maison Basse took many years of work and perseverance to complete and now sits proudly in view down in the valley from any window up on the hill of Lacoste where the rest of the campus classrooms live.

Below you will see how it functions as student housing, classrooms, art studios, and a community shared living space taking this historic building from old farmhouse to the future of art…

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 Students can wait for car rides from the main campus to Maison Basse, but on nice days, most of them opt to take the ancient Roman road which winds through gorgeous forest as it travels from the farmhouse back up to the village…

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Below~ looking back on Maison Basse in the valley from within the walls of Lacoste. 

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FASHION

The fashion students were huddled over sketchbooks in the bright natural lit studio, working on their creations for Advanced Fashion Sketching. Taught the use of croquis – a quick, sketchy drawing – and body proportions for fashion drawing, the girls quickly infuse their images with their own personal style and vibe. Many of the images involved different mediums – some students using pens and pencils, others, watercolors or collage. By the end of the eight week course, the students will have a portfolio to expand upon in their continuing studies back at SCAD and ultimately their own fashion collection.

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“Fly the ocean in a silver plane…”

An old propeller plane seen from the ground in South Africa. “…see the jungle when it’s wet with rain…”

As I write this, I am somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and the United States. I always request a window seat because you never know when you’re going to get that perfect shot of the sun rising over South America or see a distant thunderstorm illuminate the horizon on your descent into Singapore. I was just lost in thought gazing out the window and thinking about how flying’s magic is not lost on me. The fact that you can close your eyes in New York and wake up in a world you’ve only dreamed of in what seems like minutes still leaves me in childlike wonder.

I ponder sometimes if the pace of our distances allows us more or less? What would Darwin have accomplished in the era of air travel? Part of being a freelancer is never knowing which way the current will take you nor how hard the undertow will be but I feel so incredibly lucky to have seen so much of the world through my lens. I haven’t yet figured out what the ultimate influence will be on my life’s work of all the lands I’ve seen, and to be honest I am still exploring…it’s true what they say: “The more I travel, the less I know.”

A view of New York City from above the clouds. Cover image originally from HERE

Second image is flying out from New York

 

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Napa Valley & Beyond

A honeymoon trip through Napa valley Even though our private little cottage at Carneros Inn was the perfect hideaway for newlyweds in love, we did find the “courage” to venture out into the hills of California’s Napa Valley. So what does one do in this stunning American wine region? … drink and eat. A LOT. It was so much fun hopping on bikes and bouncing from one winery to the next, sometimes making a picnic and sometimes trying world-famous restaurants such as Bouchon. My absolute favorite winery was James Cole, where we bought a case of Merlot we gave to family members as Christmas gifts…and saved some for ourselves (for special occasions, like this past Thanksgiving). We played tourists on the Napa Valley Wine Train and spent a day in Santa Rosa, the city one of Kevin’s favorite beer breweriesRussian River, calls home. The details are foggy with the passage of time (or maybe it was the wine) and now only the highlights of my memories remain and these very few snapshots on film of the time in our lives when we were newlywed ~

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