Sunday, December 20, 2009

most recent freewill astrology:

Aquarius Horoscope for week of December 17, 2009

Verticle Oracle card Aquarius (January 20-February 19)
Imagine that money is not just the literal cash and checks you give and receive, but that it is also an invisible force of nature like gravity or electromagnetism. Then imagine that it's possible for this primal energy to be favorably disposed toward you -- that on some occasions its rhythms may be more closely aligned with your personal needs. Can you picture that, Aquarius? I hope so, because there is a sense in which this seeming fantasy will be an actuality for you during much of 2010. How well you're able to capitalize will depend in part on how high you keep your integrity levels. Are you prepared to be more impeccably ethical, fair, and honest than you've ever been?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

positive manifesto for 2010



Monday, December 14, 2009

workshop holiday

the holiday sale/ party at workshop was a great success! Lot's of friends new and old came by to have a drink, a nosh, and pick up a few items from the many talented designers that came to sell their work. It was a lot of fun!

party people

The amazing ginger, cranberry, orange holiday punch made by the amazing Ellen, and delicious snacks so very generously donated by Nightwood

Thursday, December 10, 2009

last minute holiday shopping!

Come by and get super discounted frei goods!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holiday happenings

Saturday, December 5th from 4- 9 PM and Sunday, December 6th from 12- 6 PM

Holiday sale and party! Not to be missed! A wide variety of clothing, objects, and accessories. Gifts for your loved ones and yourself! Several of your favorite, talented, local designers will converge for the weekend to offer their collections at deeply discounted prices:
Abigail Glaum-Lathbury
Janet Ecklebarger of Glean Design
Noon Solar
Peggy Skemp of Heron Adornment
Lisa Spagnolo
Tania Bowers of Pears of Danger

Tasty treats by Nightwood, mixed seasonal drinks, and a raffle to boot! Hope to see you at workshop for this exciting event!

One of the pieces that Rob Jeffries had installed in the window display at workshop during the month of November. Light box made from select pine, plexi-glass, and paint.

During the month of December, students from the class "Supply and Surplus" at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago will present an installation of their re-purposed coat project. Sure to be pretty cool- pictures to come in December!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

future space goats

love that Mcqueen- these prints are truly out of this world....

I wonder what kind of prints I would create for my collection if I had a budget much grander than mine. I have been actually looking for a company that can produce digital prints on organic or sustainable fabric, made responsibly, with non-toxic ink. It is something that is yet to exist. Once I find it- I am sure it will be pretty expensive.
I love this collection, the styling, the colors, the shapes. Once again you have blown my mind Mr. Mcqueen.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More for Le$$...

I was listening to NPR this morning and the subject was the economy. The question of whether or not the economy was getting better or stronger, despite the fact that unemployment is still high. The discussion reiterated the plight of the small business owner, and the reality of the consumer power that is not being used. Simply, people are not buying things- even if they do have a job, and if they are buying things, they are certainly buying less. My goodness- I could go on and on about this subject but I will try to stick to some major points.

1. I AM that small business owner- not only do I manufacture goods, but now I have a little shop to sell directly to my customers- so I am both in the retail and wholesale end of things.

2. From my point of view, it is true that people in general, are not buying things retail. Even though Spring 2010 has wholesale orders (and for that I am extremely grateful) there could definitely be more. Just being honest, really. I cannot blame the buyers of these stores across the country for not buying more of my product- it is the fact that people are not buying things from their stores that makes their budgets so small for the season. It is a vicious cycle really and it is the little guy who suffers the most.

3. The thing that gets my goat a bit is the way some people are trying to take advantage of the situation that we are all finding ourselves in. As small business owners try to maneuver through the recession and still stay afloat- some people find it a great time to try to haggle or get goods for reduced prices and discounts.

I am sure that most of the time it's hard to understand that we have already reduced prices, taken losses, and cut corners. It is down right sad to see how people try to leverage a difficult time and a desperate moment into a gain for themselves. I think it is called carpetbagging. I know- we all love a discount- but if a few extra dollars go into the small business you are supporting- than it might just survive!

4. Which brings me to More for Le$$.....
Everyone wants something special, unique, one-of-a-kind, made locally, and sustainably.
Paying a living wage for garment construction is not inexpensive, sourcing fabrics from fair-trade co-ops is not the cheaper option, growing and harvesting raw materials that use extensive crop rotation and biological pesticides instead of cheap, harmful, chemical sprays- costs more money than the alternative.

All of these careful considerations of the planet and the people that inhabit it cost more money- as does creating a clothing line ethically. I try my best to educate my clients, and consumers at large about these issues- many of which the average consumer is unaware of. It is an uphill battle- and I understand that the price of organic fruit and vegetables is more than non-organic- and the same with clothing. Walmart, Target, H&M are far less expensive than my collection- but we have to ask ourselves "at what cost?" The problem is that we all want something special, unique, one-of-a-kind, made locally, and sustainably - BUT WE DON'T WANT TO PAY FOR IT.

We all want stellar customer service, personal attention, a genuine interaction with our local small business owners- but we don't always support them. In order to do that, we have to frequent their businesses and spend our money- or pretty soon- our only option will be big box corporations that are huge enough to withstand the crumbling economy. They have the ability to slash prices, lay off American workers, and source labor over seas where there are low human rights standards. Is that what we should be supporting?

Please excuse my rant- it is not often that I go ahead and put it out there, I just feel like I talk about this subject often, and I would love to hear others' point of view regarding the more for le$$ mentality of our society-

Sunday, November 8, 2009

sun sets

an image of the sun setting on 18th street from the little porch of workshop

Fall time... it's a time of reflection and the time of year I prepare for spring production as well. Classes are over in 5 weeks, and then it is winter break for my students. No break for me, I am looking forward to uninterrupted studio time. So much to do, and as it seems that I will be bogged down with work, I am also grateful to have orders to produce.

But my head is not in spring mode, but really I am filled with thoughts of fall 2010. Sun setting, romantic fabrications, shades of raisin- brownish- red, hand-dyed colors. As the days get shorter and the evening darkens more quickly- all I can think about is the hibernation. Chicago is a cold place in the winter. People in other parts of the country think that Chicagoans are masochists for enduring the long winter.... and I understand their reasoning, but I disagree. You see, this is the time of year where us cold- dwellers put our heads down and get it done.

Summer is for playing- we break out of the darkness and relish the sun.... but our vibe in winter is getting from door to door quickly and with purpose. And once inside- we put our task masks on and endure. We are a bi-polar city with lawn mowers and snow-blowers co-existing in the same garage. We can sit in the park in the summer and make snow-angels in the winter. In fact, we have it all- warm woolen coats and short little dresses. It is just a fact that we all feel collectively in tune with mother nature.
As the days turn cooler we instinctively pull out the winter clothes box, folding neatly the filmy light cottons of summer. And we reflect, we turn inward, we grow quieter.

Here's to winter, for without the darkness the light would never seem so bright.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

so long spring 2010, hello autumn 2010....

just returned home from the nyc market d&a..
it was a hectic time running around, i helped my friend Leslie move from
Park Slope to Williamsburg while I was at it- but it was good to say hello
to the big city for a hot minute.

I think spring 2010 is going to do well- people seem to be responding really
positively to the collection. I keep telling people that the design process
is a lot like having many words, sentences, and punctuation jumbled up together
in your head, and eventually it comes together to form a cohesive story. I feel
like once that story is told, and out of my head, the process begins again- the
search for the characters, the setting, the details. Once again, it is now time to
start all over again- it is time to start designing autumn 2010.
you know what? i'm really excited.
I have a bunch of little ideas banging around in my head, and little by little, some sketches are coming outon paper, little thoughts turning into big ones- a dark and romantic story- mixed with deep textures and colors- it's going to be interesting to see how it all comes together, it always is. I feel like a spectator just like everyone else, in fact I think i am always the most surprised to see the final results.

Gathering fabric swatches is always one of the most wonderful parts for me- I am such
a fabric whore. I met with Smita, who I get most of my silks from- they are hand twisted Khadi and hand loomed as well. This element of humanity makes everything richer not to mention the smaller footprint. I believe she is working to design a
textile specifically for me- I will be the only one to have it! It is really amazing to have the ability to work with artisans and get a unique product. Well, more on fall
2010 later, right now, as of the equinox, it looks like fall 09 has arrived.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


take a deep breath.

renew purpose. renew spirit.

be calm and be present.

it is all too much, find yourself a place in the middle.

take it easy.

breath, again.

close your eyes.

now open them.

here it comes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

taking flight....

here is a sneak preview of the spring 2010 collection about to go to market in Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles...

this is the flight top- the collar is cotton organdy- folded and stitched to mimick paper airplanes

as usual the lovely and talented Jason Robinette took these photos- and the gorgeous colleen o'sullivan did the hair
while the always dreamy Tania Bowers did makeup (colleen did both hair and makeup for the editorial shots in the parachute)
and last but never least- the celestial Delana Motter over at Ford lent her stunning image in order to make the clothing come to life. What a super team- I feel beyond fortunate to work with talented souls who happen to be my friends!

mixed stripe tank and cloud skirt in Japanese organic cotton

the swing dress in hand woven fair trade silk from India- that has been batiked by hand as well- I think it looks like the reverse of sky and clouds...

swing tunic- back view....

o.k. that's it- just a sneak as spring 2010 is a little ways away-
Right now it is time to think about fall fashion!

Friday, August 21, 2009

big love

Workshop is open for Biznass!!

an image of workshop- set up and ready to go!

Beeswax candles and local honey from the Chicago Honey Co-op!!!

a great close-up of the jewelry from Peggy Skemp's trapeze art collection of 'empty hive' copper and enameled pieces

the amazing cheese that I got from The Great American Cheese Collection
it was delicious!

party people

a detail of the window designed by the lovely ladies of INDO Linnsey and Crystal!

Best interns ever! Thanks for all your help Adrienne and Lisa!


more friends!!

a great shot of the outside at dusk- this building is beautiful!

The opening party was a blast- I feel the love- thank you to everyone who came by with well wishes, champagne, kisses, and spending money! I thank you all for making the event fun and successful... workshop is definitely alot warmer now...

It was a great deal of work getting the space ready from painting and building (Rob)
to cleaning and organizing (Mom) and general tagging and creating of merchandise!
Thank you to all who had a hand in this- I could not have done it without you!
xx- much love!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

a party!!

Hand- woven silk batiked billow sleeve blouse with Russian pantaloons of hemp/ tencel blend twill

Wrap Vest made from fair trade, hand- woven, silk/ cotton paisley with hemp/ tencel blend twill pencil skirt

**** photos by Jason Robinette ****

here it comes!

This Friday, August 14th from 6-9 I will be hosting a space- warming event at workshop (818 west 18th street chicago, il 60608).... I am beyond excited and tired is the understatement of all time. In two months time, I taught an early college seminar in fashion design and construction (monday through friday from 9-4!!!) moved my entire studio, began fall production, pushed out spring 2010 samples, had a photo shoot, and put together a brand spanking new shop. I feel like the octo-mom right now.... so many babies I don't even know which one to nurture. I am proud of them all, but mommy needs a vacation! I suppose they say there will be time to sleep when you are dead. I have to say that these million projects/ jobs/ careers did not all come to fruition with my efforts alone. There were so many supportive hands from friends, family, and lovers. Thank you to all- I am beyond grateful- and could not have gotten anything done without your physical and mental support. So really, it is all of you that this party is for- let's kick back and have some bubbly from the lovelies who run Lush Wine and Spirits (it's organic!) and some cheeses from the kindest cheese people ever over at the Great American Cheese Collection... i think it will be a lovely event- and I hope to see the chicago peeps for sure! Sorry i don't have a shnazzy flyer to throw up here- but I do have some images from the fall collection to wet your appetite- Oh I almost forgot to mention that I will be offering a 20% discount on all new fall frei pieces the night of the party! I truly hope to see all of your beautiful faces- stay tuned for more images soon....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

at last....

so, it is finally coming together- the little shop in pilsen. I am calling it workshop for several reasons, you see my studio is in the back, sort of like a see-through kitchen where you can watch the chefs prepare your food. The "work" and the "shop" are separated by a high desk/ counter for checking out purposes. I also plan on having workshop classes at the space in the studio area, everything from sewing 101 which will include hemming trousers, and basic sewing techniques, to rubbing patterns, wrap skirt forum, and learning to make your own farmers market tote bag. I am really excited about all the possibilities this new space will afford me! The coolest thing is that I am right off of the second friday gallery walk area- and I plan on having events that coincide once a month. Here are a few images but there are many more to come. I will keep posted about new developments. Currently the new space is slotted to open on August 14th with a big party. I can get it together in 2 weeks, right?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Upcoming Events......

Please join the girls of frei and other local designers at this event coming up...
lots of deep discounts on frei overstock and samples!

More Upcoming Events!

This is going to be an excellent event... a great opportunity to engage in a discussion with young entrepreneurs that are creating sustainable business communities! I am one of the designers who will be featured in the round table discussion- I will also have many of my spring/ summer 2009 collection for sale at Pivot during this event.
Come out and meet some talented and interesting people!

Monday, May 18, 2009

free will astrology

strumming my pain with his fingers.... singing my life with his words....
Rob Brezny you are my hero! Check out the truest- my horoscope as deciphered by
Mr. Brezny right here:

Aquarius Horoscope for week of May 14, 2009

Verticle Oracle card Aquarius (January 20-February 19)
Scientists find previously unknown species of plants and animals all the time, usually consisting of tiny populations in remote locations. But the latest addition to the great catalog of life is a species whose members number in the millions and cover a huge swath of Ethiopia. It's a tree that botanists have never had a name for until now: Acacia fumosa. Unlike other acacias, it produces pink blooms in the dry season instead of yellow or pink flowers in the wet season. I predict that you will soon have a comparable experience, Aquarius: You'll "discover" and identify a unique wellspring that has been around forever but unknown to you. As you tap into its charms, I trust that you will make up for lost time.

and read yours here.

oh karl, you did it again....

i know- the man kind of gives me the willies....
but this collection touches me in all the romantic places-
i feel like the nooks and crannies of my soul are filled with silk
tulle, dip dyed under frocks, and hand made spider web laces....
add some Klimt hair-styles, smokey eyes, a 20's flapper vibe,
along with transparent, silky, Parisian stripes and i am done, done, done!
these are a few looks from the chanel 2010 resort collection fresh from a
gorgeous beach boardwalk runway at dusk!
just stunning....

Friday, May 15, 2009

Designer Spotlight: Frei Designs

Designer Spotlight: Frei Designs

Posted using ShareThis
check out frei featured in Chicago's Newcity....
lots of great images in the boutiqueville magazine... here is just one, for goodness sake- who doesn't love this dress?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

fear of flying

I've been thinking about flying away...
as a crazy aviatrix making her flight plans-
i feel the need to defy gravity
perhaps a paper airplane made from leftover
to-do lists

Sunday, April 5, 2009

absolute zero

By definition, 'absolute zero' is the coldest temperature theoretically possible, which is theoretically impossible to achieve. In other words, it's cold. Colder than a Chicago winter-- an unattainable, absolute zero. In temperatures close to absolute zero, matter takes on unusual properties and state changes. What would actually happen to matter at absolute zero can only be hypothesized. As is often unavoidable, scientists find they reach a human limit to their research. As artists, we translate and illustrate our human limitations.
Participating artists include: Jeremy Bolen, carlsweets, Miguel Guzman, nikki hollander, Damien James, Rob Jeffries, Jason Judd, Blake Parish Lewis, Sarah Perez, Holly Sabin, Stephen Shapiro, David Soukup, and Shawn Stucky.
This is a group show brought to you by the fine pool of talent that collectively call themselves deadline projects. their shows are always stimulating and full of variety- come out and support them this saturday, the 11th of April at happydog (1542 N. Milwaukee ave). For more info, check out: deadline projects

Thursday, April 2, 2009

fantasy lashes

how beautiful are these false eyelashes from shu uemura?

I wish I had somewhere fabulous to go- I would totally sport some lace eyelashes from the Viktor & Rolf fantasy lash collection...

the future of fashion.....

i think some organic snuggies are in order....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

smart home/ and smart people!

Jessa Brinkmeyer just sent me over a link for the newly renovated and opened Smart Home at the Museum of Science and Industry. It looks so amazing- I cannot wait to go take a tour this weekend! One really exciting aspect to the smart home (other than it's solar power capabilities and other state-of-the-art new energy efficient technologies)- is that Jessa, who owns Pivot boutique (the city's first eco fashion boutique)- was asked to curate the closet in the smart home! My pillow top dress featured in the Spring 2009 collection will be on display in the closet of the smart home for the next several months- so exciting!

The pillow top dress can also be found at Pivot for sale- the reason that it is smart is that it is made from a hemp/ and organic cotton blend- hemp requires no pesticides and very little water to grow- it is also extremely durable. The fabric was pretty headache-inducing when I first received it, but I ended up dipping it in a natural logwood dye to dim it down a bit, and give it an aged look.

Talking about Jessa- she is currently featured herself in a great article in Chicago Magazine - She is one of 6 recipients who have been given a 2009 Chicago Green Award. Congratulations Jessa! It must be quite an honor to receive such recognition from the city- keep up the great work!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

becoming pros....


There are lots of perks to living in Chilsen, but really it's the super cool people,
who I encounter when i come up for air from time to time. One of the coolest chicks I
have had the pleasure of hanging with is AbbyG. Her dog, Judah, is my dog, Stella's boyfriend. This means we can hang while our dogs romp and make out.
AbbyG has this really lovely blog:
check it if you get a minute- she has a fantastic writing style and an exuberance for words and verbal landscapes not matched by many....

i also love the title of her blog- it is a nice play on words and i instantly identify with the idea of being somewhere in the middle of self expression, and self preservation.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

in the beginning there is the end....

Back in December, along with several amazing and talented performers, visual artists, and collaborators of all sorts, I staged my own funeral. Unfortunately, prior to having this blog, I haven't had the space to post these images. So here they are!

I was looking at shapes and concepts for my fall 2009 collection, in the mourning attire in Victorian mourning photography, I used the funeral/ performance as a vehicle to showcase a preview of some key pieces from the collection. Anthony Vizzari has a museum of mourning photography in Oak Park, Illinios- in a space connected to his home. He very generously allowed me to view his collection of intense antique mourning photographs while doing research for the performance and the collection.

My very dear friend and lifetime collaborator Muffie Connelly, an insanely talented choreographer and dancer, created the movement for the performance. She is also one of the founding members of The Happydog performance company, a multi media collective of talented individuals, who create works with an emphasis on dance and theatrics. They are the key players who made my funeral come to life (ha!)....

The idea for the funeral came during a time of great hope and change. Obama was just coming into office- and the Bush regime was ending. I felt it appropriate to address the end, in order to usher in the beginning. The funeral was not a political piece, but a personal one.
I had also just finished reading the Tibetan book of Living and Dying, and I have been studying Buddhist philosophy for some years now. I am fascinated by the Western ideas of death and dying versus the Eastern views on the same. I wanted to welcome death, while creating an environment to welcome new life, and new beginnings. All things must come to an end, and impermanence is the only universal truth. So why not have a little ceremony? It wasn't all solemn and tears- the last respects paid to the "casket" was a lot of fun. The casket was actually a 5.5 foot long pinata filled with candy and toys. I suppose I liked the idea of putting the notion of death and finality- to rest. Of course, a dance-party followed with Club Lifestyle dance troup from Philly, doing their thing! Take a look at some of the images...

this is an image of the amazing mural my friend Hatuey Diaz painted on the wall of happydog in Chicago's wicker park where the last service was held- his murals (made mainly with house paint from home depot) served as the main set for the performance.

This is a rather dark image of Amanda Lopez-Betanzos as one of my mourners, She is another happydog founding member- and all around bad-ass performer.

This is a lovely image of the mourners performing a movement with chalk.

An audience member paying her last respects to the pinata casket- I had that pinata made around the corner from me in Pilsen- for a whole $50.00!!! I was so excited...

Muffie, and myself after the performance- she's my hero!

All photos taken by Kari Skaflan- please check out her amazing online Fashion magazine Above the Fray .... it is a very cool magazine that highlights emerging designers and fashion trends.