Marfakind was a project that I did right out of school. In 2011 I was living with my sister after moving to Marfa on a whim. It is what launched the independent Kieley Kimmel clothing line. I started sending out look books with 5 handmade, textile based pieces. Each season I design with the idea in mind that you can wear Kieley Kimmel pieces throughout the seasons and with previous seasons. Every collection is based on color, texture, movement and gradient.
I want there to be reason behind buying a piece of clothing. So that consumers invest in one quality piece, rather than a handful of garments made in China. My creative process and the effort behind each collection's design process has to do with that.
I think fashion is appealing to me as a form of creation because it has an aspect of storytelling to it. The colors, textures and lookbook are all proposing a story or reaction through visual language.
The majority of my creative process comes from a personal or emotional perspective- an expressive release and shedding. I think this has to do with my background in painting and philosophy. I studied painting, fashion, and textiles at Rhode Island School of Design with a concentration in philosophy. I like the challenge of problem solving, of exploring various personal ideas visually or trying to break down a text or idea through visual language to better understand it. I enjoy reading more theoretical texts when I do have time to read, and I am very interested in the idea of storytelling through a fashion collection.
Since the beginning of the Fall'13 line, I have based each season's collection off of a specific text, book, essay etc. For the most part, these texts are given to me by my older sister Erin Kimmel. She is a keen observer of my state of emotion and usually recommends a relevant text to my life and what we believe might apply to the current fashion and art atmosphere.
FW13 Revolt She Said by Julia Kristeva and Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway.
SS14 – The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin.
FW14 – What Color is the Sacred by Taussig.
SS15 – The Illness of Mourning and the Fantasy of the Exquisite Corpse by Maria Torok.
FW15 – Bluets by Maggie Nelson.
Along with the chosen inspiration text, there are other key ingredients that make up the Kieley Kimmel clothing brand. These consist of color effects and theories, textiles and materials, a focus on knitwear and women's suiting and clothing that activates and intrigues.
The choice of Maggie Nelson's Bluets is a great example of my personal creative process. My sister recommended I read this book in the midst of FW15 designing. Quote, from the book, "Something that began as “[a]n appreciation, an affinity” became something “more serious” and then “it became somehow personal.”
The book is about Nelson's love as obsession with the color blue and a philosophical investigation into loss, pain, and suffering. It is written as propositions, a philosophy on color, an analysis of past loves and a love affair with the color blue.
I ask myself what colors, what materials, and what other visual references help to inform the idea or story of the text. Maggie Nelson speaks about these moments in particular: she mentions a "bower bird", a blue satin bird that collects blue objects in order to attract their mate. I liked the idea of this model human as a courting bowerbird, dressing themselves in blue in order to seduce their mate. Another quote, "the half circle of blinding turquoise ocean is this love's primal scene”. I translated this into the turquoise velvet. She mentions a "cyanometer". You can see it in the wool-blend fabric coated with squares, just like a cyanometer.
I always ask myself which colors, materials, textures and shapes will inform and strengthen my concept. I source my materials, yarns and woven fabrics from Italy and Japan. I then develop the prints and knitwear in house with my own hand paintings or sometimes screen-printing samples in my studio. At the studio I have a sewing machine where I develop the knit samples and then I work with a sample maker in order to develop a fully-fashioned knit garment. All garments are knit, cut and sewn in Downtown Los Angeles, just around the corner from my studio.
I was particularly interested in kids wear because I had been receiving many requests from women buying my sweaters. A lot of them have children and I thought this would be a fun new market to explore. I was also inspired by a new friend, a 5th grade teacher living and working in Brooklyn. Over the course of designing the FW15 collection, I was watching her interact with her class and kids which further encouraged the children’s knitwear.
At the moment I am loving ffiXXed, Shaina Mote and wwake.
I'm currently working on several print-focused, textile-installation projects in the next year, which I’m super excited about! And hopefully I will offer a select group of Menswear pieces for FW16. I am also very excited about some recent film projects directed by Luke Gilford and Lauren Edward Film that will feature Kieley Kimmel clothing.