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  • Writer's pictureKaren Seiger

Folk Couture Designs by Grace Napoleon

Brooklyn Craft Central Holiday Market Featured Designer!

Grace Napoleon has an eye for colors.  And for patterns.  And buttons.  And somehow she can see how they all might work together in the must unusual ways as she cuts up recycled clothing and stitches the pieces together to create an entirely new, singular design.  “I make clothes from clothes,” she says.

I met Grace two summers ago at the Brooklyn Flea underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.  She had a gaggle of hip girls under her tent trying on adorable mini-dresses with stripes, appliqués, and other unusual details.  Grace has a lovely, fun manner, and a glorious head of long, salt and pepper curls.  Her displays at the Flea are always inviting.  She sells vintage items, from eyewear to kitchenware, but Grace’s clothes are what first grabbed my attention.  She calls her designs Folk Couture.  The concept is around creating new and fun things to wear out of previously owned pieces.  They are handmade, unique and meant to be worn every day.  You and I might wear a sweater for a few years and then discard it.  But if you are Grace Napoleon, you breathe a whole new life into it instead.

Now that it’s wintertime, Grace has brought out her one-of-a-kind designs for colder temperatures.  She’ll cut out the collar from a colorful sweater, add a beautiful button accent and some bright embroidered details, and voilá!  It’s a stylish new neck-warming accessory!  She cuts the sleeves from a sweater, passes a few stitches over them, and suddenly you have yourself a pair of stylish and practical fingerless gloves.  Her dresses feature combinations of colors, fabrics and patterns, and they fly off her racks every weekend, both at the Brooklyn Flea and at the SOWA Market in Boston.  For me, though, Grace’s sweaters are where the real fun is.  She has been doing lots of scalloped cuts and asymmetrical wavy necklines, with swatches of brightly colored appliqués and vintage buttons sewn onto felted wool cardigans and pullovers.  No two Grace Napoleon Folk Couture Designs are even remotely alike.

Starting in January 2011, Grace will be offering Recycle Your Clothes Classes.  Invite 5 or more of your friends over for wine and snacks, and have them bring 2 or 3 pieces of clothing to turn into one great new item.  Grace will spend the evening helping everyone figure out what to do and then how to put it all together.  At the end of the party, everyone goes home with a great new thing to wear and a little more room in their closet.  The fee is $45 per person, and Grace supplies all the needles, thread, great fabric swatches, loads of patience and great advice.  If you are interested in learning more about these classes, leave a comment here.  Grace will get back to you!

Come see Grace Napoleon’s designs for yourself at the Brooklyn Craft Central Holiday Market!



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