Day: November 14, 2023

WENDELL, N.C. (carolina-based-clothing-brand/” data-type=”URL” data-id=”https://www.cbs17.com/honoring-black-history/hispanic-heritage-month/salvadorian-roots-history-inspire-north-carolina-based-clothing-brand/”WNCN) — Lisbeth Carolina Arias has spent her life balancing different worlds. She was born in El Salvador but moved to North Carolina as a young girl.

She grew up in Sanford, where her mother worked as a seamstress. Arias went on to study fashion and textile design at North Carolina State University. After working for major brands in the fashion industry, like Vera Wang, she decided to bridge her two worlds using her own company, Descalza.

The idea for Descalza first came while Arias was still in college, interning at a clothing brand in Guatemala.

“When I see these textiles for the first time, I feel like I’m learning part of my history, part of my indigenous roots,” said Arias. She knew then that her mission was to work her way back to using those traditional fabrics.

Now, Descalza is a multi-country operation that Arias runs out of her garage in Wendell. The concept is a combination of the traditional fabrics from Latin America and North Carolina’s textile history. Arias sources all of her materials from Latin American countries with their own distinct weaving techniques.

After arriving in the United States, Descalza’s head seamstress, Magdalena Cruz, gets to work bringing Arias’s designs to life an hour away in Sanford. Cruz, who used to work in industrial textile factories, said she prefers Descalza’s smaller, artisanal setup, because of the quality that goes into the product.

“You never stop learning. Every day you make something new. I like everything about it, because it’s my passion,” said Cruz. She also likes that Descalza supports artisans around Latin America.

Using traditional techniques means Arias has had to adapt her designs to fit within

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Haitian artist uses fashion to probe power structures in ‘Rewriting History’ at Gardner Museum

Fabiola Jean-Louis stands in front of her exhibition “Rewriting History” at the IsabellaStewart Gardner Museum. PHOTO: ISABELLA STEWART GARDNER MUSEUM

A dress is the centerpiece of Haitian American visual artist Fabiola Jean-Louis’ exhibition “Rewriting History” at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, though the term hardly seems sufficient to describe this artwork. The electric blue gown is a careful balance of elegant ruffles and pleats, featuring the wide hip structure and low neck popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. But unlike those silk constructions, this sartorial masterpiece is made entirely out of paper.

Fabiola Jean-Louis, “Marie Antoinette is Dead,” 2017. Archival pigment print © Fabiola Jean-Louis. PHOTO: ISABELLA STEWART GARDNER MUSEUM

Jean-Louis uses intricate, delicate paper garments to question narratives around Black women and Black female bodies and to probe power structures. Dresses like the one on display were typically worn by white nobility. Jean-Louis photographs Black women wearing these at-once lavish and cage-like creations. In doing so, she reminds viewers that the wealth that supported the European nobility identified with these garments often came at the expense of Black lives. Her work at the same time exalts Black women to that same aristocratic position and aesthetic.

“There’s no other item, or material in our world — and not just American society, but in our world — that shapeshifts like paper,” says Jean-Louis. “It has in one instance tremendous power to build cities, governments, societies, wealth, poverty and suffering. It has the power to buy human bodies and has the power of serving as proof of existence.”

The material holds all of that power, but it’s also incredibly fragile. That juxtaposition of strength and weakness emulates the two sides of the clothing coin. Women can use clothing to create their own identities and express themselves, but garments can also be

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