I am well aware that a clever opening sentence grabs the reader's attention. To that end I have been struggling for several days to come up with one to introduce you to Kelly Reding, another of the extremely talented artists who call the CWE home. I first met Kelly three years ago when she and her husband Nick, an award-winning author, had just moved to the neighborhood from New York (Nick is from St. Louis). It wasn't until Kelly's trunk show last year at the old Mezzanine location that I realized what she was up to in the charming third floor atelier of her CWE home, where these pictures were taken. Kelly has created a rarified niche for herself reworking vintage clothing to give it a new life. In addition to her business, Dauphine Vintage, and keeping up with an active two year old, she has a background anyone who is into fashion is sure to love.
Kelly, a native of New York State, said she thinks that vintage clothing is in her blood—she has loved it since she was a little girl. She majored in dance and women's studies in college and, along the way, taught herself to sew by taking clothing apart. Kelly moved to New York City where she lived for twelve years. Her love of everything vintage led to a job at a West Village shop called Geminola, where vintage pieces were refashioned. At Geminola, Kelly and the shop owner dressed celebrities including neighbor Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman, and Mischa Barton among others. It was Sarah Jessica Parker who introduced costume designer Patricia Field to Geminola, and that's how Kelly wound up designing some of Carrie Bradshaw's looks on "Sex and the City." If you remember the green ballerina dress Carrie wore in the last episode, you will be interested to know that Kelly worked on that tutu from the London Ballet costume department, and built a few replicas for custom orders. The dress was found by the owner of Geminola on a buying trip to the Portobello Road flea market, and after the series ended, placed in a museum in Hollywood, Florida (see it here).
In the photo above, Kelly shows a black lace skirt that was salvaged from a 50's dress she found at a Paris flea market, $200. The designer suggests pairing the full skirt, to which she added a vintage lace waistband, with a tank top and flats. In the foreground, there is an unusual 20's beaded dress lined with a hand-dyed silk slip and beaded trim from the 30's that was added to the bodice to strengthen the silk. As in the workshops of couturiers, all of Kelly's sewing is done by hand, and purist that she is, she uses only vintage thread.
Kelly enjoys salvaging pieces and then perhaps mixing a bodice from one decade with a skirt from another. A black chiffon dress from the 30's, above, is topped with a lace bodice, $295. As far as fitting her customers, Kelly refashions the clothing so that waistbands are adjustable, and perhaps there is a piece of elastic here or there. And sometimes there is that, as she says, "glass slipper moment," when the dress fits the client just perfectly.
On the left, a lace jacket covers a swimsuit made into a tank top shown with a 50's fiesta skirt. The milliner's flower belt completes the outfit, $195. On the right, a 20's lacy silk slip tops and lines a turn-of-the-last-century gauzy skirt. Kelly was still working on prices for some of her designs, though you can check her website or email her at the address below for more info. Also, at the end of the post there is a postcard detailing information on her appearance at a Stray Rescue Benefit at Shelton Davis Antiques on McPherson this Friday evening where you can meet Kelly and see her creations.
The designer uses only vintage thread, buttons and trims, see above and below. From the way the trimmings are arranged in her studio, you may have guessed that she has a styling background as well. In New York she did some styling for music videos and film; she also bought vintage clothing for designers who used the pieces for prototypes and reference.
When Kelly lived in New York she designed a line of jewelry called Shepherd's Pie. She has continued making accessories in St. Louis, including the jet taken from a vintage dress and made into a necklace and headpiece, above.
The blue necklace shown above is comprised of trim taken from a 60's dress and 30's applique sewn to vintage seam binding, $60.
Kelly recently dyed vintage baby dresses, $25 and up, and
made May Day crowns for little girls from vintage hat trimming, $10.
Someday Kelly hopes to open an atelier. In the meantime, she plans on holding about four trunk shows a year including tomorrow night's Stray Rescue Benefit at Shelton Davis Antiques, 4724 McPherson (see more info above). On May 21, she'll be at Mezzanine's new location in Maplewood.
To contact Kelly Reding go to Dauphine's gorgeous new website here, (created by CWEnder Diann Cage) or email: email@example.com
P.S. – With this post on Kelly and others that I've written in the past about artists who make things by hand, I've decided to launch a "Handmade" category to this blog. Over the next few days I will go back and mark other artists so you can find them all easily.