701 Center for Contemporary Art presents Madame Magar’s Workshop

Madame Magar’s Workshop

Exhibition Period: March 18 – May 4, 2014

Artist Reception: Tuesday, March 18, 7-9pm

Explore the contemporary world of millinery and fashion design through an innovative, imaginative installation by Charleston artist Leigh Magar. Magar transforms the gallery into a workshop and showroom environment that for six weeks takes us through her highly individual creative process, played out in real time and culminating in a fully realized Mill Collection of work garments. The collection will include frocks, aprons, hats and accessories inspired by Lewis W. Hine’s historic, early 20th-century photographs of children textile mill workers.

Magar, who studied millinery at the Fashion Institute in New York City, opened Magar Hatworks in Charleston in 1996. Her stylish hats, ranging from fedoras to elaborate cocktail wear, have been sold by high-end stores such as Barney’s in New York City and Isetan in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. Her celebrity clients include Elvis Costello, Eartha Kitt, Gregory Hines and Christina Aguilera.  In 2010, she established Madame Magar, bringing her interest in fashion design full circle with a dress and accessories line.

The fashion house of Magar Hatworks and Madame Magar come together as a workshop installation inside the gallery at 701 Center for Contemporary Art with tools of the trade that include sewing machines, patterns, cutting table, dress forms, mannequins, a showroom and a runway.  Central to the installation is the opportunity to witness the creative process as Magar moves from concept to paper pattern to finished wearables and three-dimensional objects. A collection of more than 400 museum quality antique and vintage hat forms will be featured prominently in the installation.

A fashion house rooted in history and the homespun as well as the growing trend for locally made wearable art, Magar celebrates her love for art and fashion during her residency by creating a handmade collection with one-of-a-kind pieces. Madame Magar will present her Mill Collection in a fashion show at 701 Center for Contemporary Art in late April.

About the Residency

February 1 – April 30, 2014

“The textile mill is very sacred to me; growing up in Spartanburg, a textile mill town, memories of my grandma working in the mill, laced in cotton.” – Leigh Magar, Magar Hatworks and Madame Magar

The Madame Magar Philosophy celebrates the artist’s love for fashion and art. Taking her inspiration from our textile heritage, Magar will create wearable art including dresses and imaginative accessories all from leftover mill materials and fabrics. Her Mill Collection will consist of handmade items, created in limited numbers, which integrate art and fashion by capturing the essence of “slow design.” Each garment will combine various artisan techniques – hand dying, drawing, needlework embellishment, and sculpting. Inspired by the accounts of life in southern textile mills, the photographs of Lewis W. Hine of mill workers, and “Mill-Doors,” a poem by Carl Sandburg, Magar will fabricate her own original translations of traditional women’s work frocks, aprons, hats and accessories. In this process she will demonstrate the complex steps involved in the creative process of turning a concept into a functioning, yet unique, object.

In March, Magar will recreate her Charleston studio and showroom within the gallery at 701 Center for Contemporary Art, opening Madame Magar’s Workshop in grand fashion on March 20. Through working within this transplanted environment, Magar will provide a behind-the-scenes experience for the public demonstrating her multilayered process of creating a new collection. Madame Magar’s Workshop is a work-in-progress art installation open to the public during gallery hours.

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