Monday, April 28, 2014

Wednesday Night at VHOB - An Iconoclastic Fashion Designer - Should Be Fascinating

As you all know by now, Kate Mitchell, author of Fashioning Women, will be coming to VHOB.  Not only will she be talking about her book, but she will also have mannequins and clothes for us to see.  I don't think you're going to want to miss this one.

Here are 3 articles about Kate.  In order, they are from the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, and the Contra Costa Time.

And from that party, at which most women were dolled up in smart set cocktail dresses, we hurried
over to SOMArts, where "Fashioning Women," Kate Mitchell's art exhibition/book party/faux
fashion show/dance/theater performance, provided uproarious live commentary on fashion
convention. The artist's outfit included a many-splendored, multihued and bespangled jacket of
patterned print, onto which she had appliqued strips of striped ribbon, and among the works on
display was a collage made of '60s-era bra, men's garters and twine.
The book "Fashioning Women," which landed on my desk a few weeks ago, was an entrancing lure to
the event. Who could resist Mitchell's "ogling strategies for locker room survival"?: "Pancake butts
belong to women who take on other people's problems. Round derrieres can mean take-charge types.
Women with husbands who stray tend to have one cheek more dimpled than the other."

Her book is a sendup of the glossy magazines of the rag trade that often
send women conflicting messages. Like her choreography and her designs,
it’s a winking festival of color and kitsch, directing a very pointed eye to
America’s fascination with and addiction to fashion.
Mitchell also will exhibit her textile-based collages, constructed from iconic
women’s clothing. In one collage, she has taken apart two pairs of ladies white cotton church
gloves, reshaped them architecturally and painted them with tribal patterns.
1 Points Mentioned
In another, it’s a 1960s pre-lycra seamed cotton bra that she has repurposed.
“The collages are about being a woman,” Mitchell says. “They are about confinement but at
the same time being centered because all aspects of a woman can never be completely
As with her previous choreography, she illustrates her story of womanhood with humor and
a dose of eroticism. The runway show leads off with a “sexy” lingerie collection and ends
with the bride.
“You always have to end a runway show with a bridal gown,” she says.
Mitchell’s fascination with design began in childhood when her babysitter, an expert
seamstress, made couture knockoffs for her Barbie dolls.
“I confess when my sister and I were little we did play with Barbies,” she says. But like many,
she outgrew their allure. “A neighbor’s daughter recently told me that girls are doing Barbies
at a very young age now – like 5 or 6, but that when she was about 10 she was done with them, so she hung them out her window.”
The statuesque Mitchell, who describes herself as “five-foot-twelve,” could well have been a
model herself. “I once thought it was sort of a cool, glamorous idea,” she says. “But when I
started reading fashion magazines and about models I realized I would have to weigh 20
pounds less and I really like chocolate too much.”

PIEDMONT -- Kate Mitchell has had her eyes on fashion her entire life.
Beginning with Barbie dolls in her youth, Mitchell's interest in what women wear grew into a career that
eventually included creating her own thought-provoking fashion lines.
Now, Mitchell, of Piedmont, is embarking on a new venture that marries her style sense with her views on
the industry. At 56, Mitchell is the new author of "Fashioning Women," a satirical fashion book that "pokes
fun at and challenges ideas of" today's fashion world, she said.
"This is kind of like the ultimate message that we can fashion ourselves," Mitchell said. "If you love to wear
e industry. At 56, Mitchell is the new author of "Fashioning Women," a satirical fashion book that "pokes
fun at and challenges ideas of" today's fashion world, she said.
"This is kind of like the ultimate message that we can fashion ourselves," Mitchell said. "If you love to wear
makeup and high heels, that's great. If you love to wear men's suits, that's great too. I'm really proud of
this. It's a personal statement."
To celebrate the accomplishment, Mitchell is hosting a book release party from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at A
Great Good Place for Books, 6120 La Salle Ave. in Montclair Village.
A second event held Nov. 16 in San Francisco will feature a fashion show and dance performances.
Tickets for that event are $25 each and can be purchased at .
Mitchell said the 72-page, soft-cover book is loaded with photography, featuring some of her fashion
designs, as well as faux articles meant to make readers laugh at what Mitchell considers unreasonable
beauty standards put on women by society.
"The first thing that happened was I started realizing all these anti-aging ads were making me feel bad,"
Mitchell said of what prompted her to write the book. "I'm asking about contradictions about female life
and trappings of our experience. How could Kate Moss look exactly the same (today) as she does in the
'80s? That's just not possible. It kind of sends a very difficult message."
A lifelong artist, Mitchell also runs a studio in West Oakland. For guidance and support, Mitchell said she
turned to her sister and sister-in-law, both of whom have had experience in publishing. Still, she said, the
load was significant;

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