Pixie's Sewn Clothing
One of a Kind
By Robert Newman
Pixie modeling one of her creations, Photograph by Myrna Greenhall
Pixie Piera makes one-of-a-kind jackets, which means that she will not duplicate the garments she has made for Faye Dunaway; Margot Adler, the news reporter for National Public Radio; Elaine de Kooning, the artist and wife of artist Willem de Kooning; Dorothy Lichtenstein, the wife of artist Roy Lichtenstein; or Barbara Rockefeller.
Pixie's studio and home are in Sundown, NY-a small, hard-to-reach hamlet in the southwest corner of Ulster County. Her husband, Charlie, is the Town Supervisor. Her three children, Justin, Chantal and Loren are pursuing careers elsewhere.
For the most part, Pixie makes jackets and coats. She makes them both with and without sleeves, in regular jacket length and a longer garment called a doublet. The jackets are worn by women and men-"whoever likes them." She uses natural fabrics whenever possible, in combinations of wool, velvet, linens and silk. Her fabrics come from all over the world, including fine silks from India and China and luxurious woolens from England, Italy and the United States. She especially loves men's suiting-pinstripes, herringbones and Glenn plaids. She quilts the fabrics herself both for the structure of the jacket and for the esthetic impact.
Each piece of clothing is a work of art. A typical jacket combines elegant linen cotton damask in natural ecru as the background material. Pixie then inserts rectangular frames made up of stripes of mauve, taupe, beige, tan and ecru silk as panels across the top. Typically, the back is more elaborate, echoing the colors of the silks in front. The deep inset pockets are lined with companion silks.
While she has had no formal training in art or tailoring, both of her parents were Woodstock artists and were part of the Maverick community in the 1920's and 30's. Last September, Pixie, her parents and a nephew were in a show called "One Family, Three Generations, Five Artists" at the Donskoj Gallery in Kingston, NY.
Pixie has been drawn to art and artists all her life. Years ago, she began to sew clothing for herself, her husband and children, sometimes dismantling used clothing to remake different garments. This led to experimenting with banners, using various sewing techniques with a growing emphasis on hand-sewn surface design: appliqué, reverse appliqué, embroidery, beading, quilting, tucking, pleating, adding tassels and fringe, etc., in addition to dyeing and overdyeing fabrics.
She began to translate her concepts into coats and cloaks, a process that offered the challenge of making a jacket look good and feel comfortable on a moving body while still using the design combinations that attracted her when making flat banners. From this grew the idea that the clothing we wear, whether painstakingly selected or just "thrown on one's body," becomes a banner or flag indicating a sense of one's self.
As her work evolved, she has shown in juried craft fairs and gallery exhibitions, including the original WBAI Holiday Crafts Fair in New York City, the Gayle Willson Gallery in Southampton, NY and Facili Costumi in Sperlonga, Italy.
Her jackets sell from $650 to $850. The long coats are priced at $1,000 and up, the doublets at $350. She doesn't take orders. "I work on spec. I am unable to work under deadlines. And I ask my customers to tell me what they hate rather than what they like."
She feels strongly that keeping to the one-of-a-kind premise is central to the development of her ideas. Asked for the term that best describes her craft, Pixie said not to call her a fiber artist. "That's too broad. I make sewn clothing."
Pixie can be reached by phone at 845 985-7409. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
Robert Newman is a retired publisher of medical newsletters. He now lives near Margaretville, NY, where he writes articles for magazines about the Catskill Region and volunteers at the Fairview Public Library. He is currently at work on a novel. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, watching birds and, on good days, walking up (and down) the mountains of the region.
This interview is part of a series sponsored by the Catskill Mountain Crafts Collective, a non-profit organization that supports hand crafts and stimulates related economic and cultural development within the Catskill region. To contact CMCC, please call 845 586 1010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.