Category Archives: BEAUTIFUL LIFE

50 ANS

I made it!  50 years old and going strong.

On my daughter Maggie’s birthday each year, I send (or do my best to send) an invitation to celebrate that includes the following text. Today, the invitation is for me:

“Join us in celebrating 50 years of life.

No presents please, plant a flower or a tree for me.”

Thank you for all your support for Alabama Chanin… and me.

As my father reminded me: “This is going to be the best decade of your life!”
xoNatalie

P.S: For those of you who have been asking, my cleanse was a success – or should I say a beautiful and permanent change of lifestyle:  25 pounds lighter and I feel 10+ years younger.

Now, on to cleansing my life, home and studio! It is going to be a wabi-sabi life – starting today…

PEACEBUILDERS PLEDGE IN ACTION

In honor of 9/11, print out the PeaceBuilder Pledge below and post it in your place of business, community, kitchen, office, local bar, post office, coffee shop, hair salon, and place of worship.  Print it as a post card, send it out, and make it your social media status.

Send us pictures from your actions and we will add them to our Facebook page:

The PeaceBuilder Pledge:

I am a peace builder.

I pledge to praise people, to give up put downs, to seek wise people, to notice and speak up about hurts I have caused, to right wrongs and to help others.

I will build peace at home, at school, (my work place), and in my community each day.

PEACEBUILDERS PLEDGE IN ACTION

If you are interested in adding PeaceBuilder’s to your child’s school curriculum, you can contact them here.

(And thank you to Olivia for these lovely actions!)

 

9/11/2001

We left the Hotel Chelsea in New York City that morning on my 1970’s era Schwinn “Stardust” bike – white with the beautiful banana seat. Our plan was to head down to Pastis in the Meat Packing District to meet a dear friend for his birthday breakfast.  Another dear friend from Vienna was visiting, without her daughter for the first time in 6 years (and after surviving both breast cancer and her daughter’s Leukemia). This day was meant to be a celebration of life.  I was doubling her on my bike.  We were happy.  It was New York Fashion Week. We felt beautiful. We were living the dream.

We arrived at Pastis and had just received our coffee when the first plane struck the first tower.

By the time we rode my small bike back up to The Hotel Chelsea, the second tower had been hit.

It happened as we were riding my bicycle back up 8th Avenue.  I was navigating morning traffic and our backs were turned as the world changed. The first tower fell moments after we arrived back to the hotel and turned on the TV.  Our day of joy became a nightmare.

It was strange, but the morning went on – business as usual; we just didn’t know what else to do.  A bike messenger arrived to pick up samples for Vogue magazine. Should have been exciting right?  It just felt wrong. He collapsed into a chair at our table and sighed.  Friends of his, other bike messengers, had been delivering packages in the tower.  There was no word from them.  He stared at his cell phone. Silence.My girlfriend visited the towers the previous morning at 9:00 . You can see her photos above from the observation deck of the South Tower – looking down – on 9/10.  The photos below are taken from the Meat Packing District looking up on 9/11.  You can see the smoke rising just above the white truck on the left.  We all know the rest of the horror.

A decade has now passed and our country continues to struggle with the aftermath from that fateful day. I am still wondering what has changed for our country since September 11, 2001. I am still coming to terms with my feelings about that day and everything that has happened in its wake.

When Osama Bin Laden fell, I felt nothing. College students marred by 9/11 cheered his death, but I felt no healing.  Shouldn’t I be happy?  Why shouldn’t this act of vengeance make something better?  It hasn’t erased the images of human beings leaping to their deaths. It hasn’t stopped the civilians – many of them children – being killed in the name of something today and every day. I felt no healing. I only felt sadness.

So, what to do this weekend as we look back in memorial to a decade ago? I have only one answer: In a situation where I know that there is nothing I can do to make a difference, I know that I have to change myself.

From page 15 of An Open Heart by the Dalai Lama – edited by Nicholas Vreeland:

“In India there exists a caste system; members of the lowest caste are sometimes referred to as untouchables…. Economically, they are extremely poor. I often tell them, ‘You yourselves must make effort; you must take the initiative, with self-confidence, to bring about changes.  You cannot simply blame the members of higher castes for your situation.’”

What can I do to make a difference?

There is just so much in the world to change and do that it overwhelms me.  So, I choose to do what I can in a personal way. I have made my own “grassroots” 9/11 project.  I commit over the next month (perhaps the rest of my life) to this manifesto:

1) I will not complain.  (In this big beautiful life, I should have so little to complain about. And yet…) When I find myself in a situation where I have the urge to complain, I will, instead, react positively – however small my actions, I will do something to improve each situation.

2) I pledge to be a PeaceBuilder. My daughter’s kindergarten class (and entire school) says the PeaceBuilder’s Pledge each morning directly after the Pledge of Allegiance. This seems like a pretty good place to start as we begin to reflect on the last decade:

The PeaceBuilders Pledge:

I am a peace builder.

I pledge to praise people, to give up put downs, to seek wise people, to notice and speak up about hurts I have caused, to right wrongs and to help others.

I will build peace at home, at school, (my work place), and in my community each day.

Who’s with me?  If you are, print out the PeaceBuilder Pledge and post it in your place of business, community, kitchen, office, local bar, post office, coffee shop, hair salon, and place of worship.  Print it as a post card, send it out, and make it your social media status for the upcoming weekend.

For me, I commit a month – 4 short weeks – of practicing non-complaining and peace-building in my life as a way to honor and acknowledge the anniversary of 9/11 and other atrocities of war that are still taking place each and every day.

I am excited to discover where this will take me.

I will be a PeaceBuilder. Indeed.

(If you are interested in adding PeaceBuilder’s to your child’s school curriculum, you can contact them here.)

PRAY FOR GOOD THINGS

Tattoos are not something that I ever particularly wanted (and don’t have – yet); but, I appreciate a beautiful tattoo and love this one from our friend Mary Quinn – visiting in the studio this week.

It is just a beautiful little reminder for her:  PRAY for good things.

Danielle LaPorte has a great list of 8 things to keep in mind when considering a tattoo:

Tattoos. Go Scared Or Go Home

Mary Quinn says that she has a “two-year incubation period for any tattoo.” If she still dreams of ink after her period of reflection, she proceeds with joy.

More on tattoos coming soon from our friend Sara – who has just tattooed the shape of the state of Alabama with reverse appliqué.

SKIRT (AND TOP) + SKIRTS


Our most popular a-line skirt is a versatile piece that can pull double duty as an elegant swing top.  It is, as always, sewn and adorned by hand using our Anna’s Garden pattern in contrasting applique and glass bugle and chop beads.  You see it here styled with two long skirts for our collection photos:

Pleated Stripe Skirt in silt with white and sand colored applique (available for custom order),
and the Long Embroidered Skirt with negative reverse Anna’s Garden applique in white on white.

Of course, this is only one way to style the pieces. You will see members of our Alabama Chanin team mixing it up all the time, combining colors, patterns and styles. We encourage you to use your own sense of style. Don’t be afraid to show your creativity.


THE HEART

I once had a close friend who was the most incredible painter, yet never sold a single piece of art. I (and everyone who saw her work) was certain she was destined for artistic greatness and critical acclaim, if only she could get people to see her work. She thought it unfair and ridiculous to allow a gallery to take a commission on her sales when she did all of the work. As her collection grew, her apartment shrank, and I decided to play hero – or at least middle man.   That was free of charge.

Unfortunately, my efforts met with failure after failure; despite interested buyers, the deal always fell through. Mostly she claimed the piece was in need of some minor finishing then failed to follow up, refused to return calls. How could someone struggling with bills be so unmotivated that they couldn’t even schedule a time to collect some cash? Finally I realized (and after a couple of cocktails she admitted) that she had no intention of selling those paintings- they simply meant to much to her.

You’d be hard-pressed to find an artist who hasn’t experienced this sort of attachment to their art. Investing so much of your time and energy into a piece shapes the way you view and how much you appreciate it. When I begin a project that I know is destined for someone-somewhere else, I take a moment to focus on that fact; I take a moment to hope it will bring happiness to the wearer. Then, I let it go.

It’s hard to see a piece of our clothing in-person and not touch it – strangers have been known to sacrifice their understanding of personal boundaries on more than one occasion. The beauty of hand-stitching is almost shocking in its simplicity, and even the most perfect looking stitches are not- that’s the point. It is impossible to conceal the artistry and expression in a garment that has been made by human hands. Diane, our head seamstress (who you will meet later),  can tell you which one of our stitchers is responsible for a garment with a quick glance… we wonder if she can tell their mood as well.

Alabama Fur (in the picture above) is one of the most time-intensive treatments in the collection; it can take several weeks to complete an all-over application. Every time I run my hands across a sample of it I can’t help but think of how much time it spent with the artist who made it.  Was it put aside at the same time every day in the name of homework assistance? Did it suffer through the new season of True Blood, or help with any important decisions?

The Alabama Chanin collection (in the best case scenario) is made from cotton that is grown in Texas, spun in North Carolina, knit in South Carolina,  dyed in Tennessee and North Carolina, and sewn by our incredible Artists here in Alabama. I’d like to introduce you to the people that take part in the making of your Alabama Chanin pieces, those that cut your fabric, pack the boxes that are mailed to you, and those that hand-stitch our collection on their own terms and time.  Each garment is hand-numbered and signed by the artisan who assembled it. Who made your favorite piece? Check the tag, and if you’re inclined, say hello when he or she is featured. We love learning more about our friends, fans, and clients. We hope you enjoy getting to know us a little better during the upcoming months.