Byline: Roxanne Robinson-Escriout
NEW YORK — Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has come a long way since the days when artists first discovered its huge warehouse spaces and rock-bottom rents.
Now, besides higher-priced real estate, rows of funky shops and restaurants line Bedford Avenue, the main drag, and new ones keep on coming to the neighboring side streets. Case in point: Isa, which opened this fall. The spacious, loft-like store stocks loads of chic labels, such as Marc by Marc Jacobs, ORFI and Anna Sui, as well as local talent such as Riz Sauvage, M.R.S. and Sally Penn.
Shop owners Isa Saalabi and Holly Harnsongkram are also supportive of new talent, and earlier this month they proved it when they hosted an in-store happening to launch Wall Street Oasis, a 7-piece collection of unique, hand-constructed and reworked clothes designed by two barely twentysomethings — Bianca Casady and Matteah Baim.
The starting point of the collection is the tailored men’s jackets, which Casady and Baim have cut, twisted, silk-screened and distressed to create new silhouettes that are barely recognizable from the originals. There are also dresses made essentially from fabric scraps, and each garment comes with a photographic tag that shows how the piece should be worn. Prices range from $150 for a wool hoodie to $275 for a dress and $325 for a blazer.
“I think the girls have a lot of great ideas and their designs are wearable and practical, while still being different,” said Harnsongkram.
Both women have art backgrounds — Baim graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute and Casady is a self-taught artist — and they consider themselves creative jacks-of-all-trades. “We see designing clothes as an extension of our art — kind of a multimedia project,” said Casady.
The duo incorporates drawing and painting into their designs and they hope to develop one-of-a-kind concepts that would incorporate other artistic mediums. For instance, they cite opera as an influence and would love to do costumes. That interest may come from Casady’s sister Sierra, a classically trained opera singer, who treated party guests to her singing.