Archive for April, 2011

Click here for Naomi J. Reyes’s Spring 2011 Portfolio

Includes Illustration, Sewing, Patternmaking, and Draping work.

Feel free to explore the rest of this site for more examples of my past work.


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I was poking around The Fox is Black blog – They posted this yesterday.  Some pretty brilliant artwork by a mister Shan Jiang going on the back of this skateboard. Poked his website – he’s pretty popular apparently, doing illustrations for the Colette store in Paris.

Now I am NOT criticizing this specific artist or this specific work, but the illustration and the Bearbrick and Kaws characters looming over Paris reminded me of something. A conversation from today, in fact. I was talking with a lady at the flea market – I bought my wear-everywhere Yohji Yamato jacket (it’s actually Y’s but whatever) from her a few months ago and aaaalllmost bought a cool shirt today – and we started talking about shopping. Don’t run away… just stay with me…

I’ve been really intrigued by Franca Sozzani and her recent interview.  In it, Ms. Sozzani talks about the recent “flatness” of digital photography and fashion design. You can’t really tell who made it until you look at the label, because much of it looks the same. Quality does not necessarily correlate with cost anymore.

The lady at the flea market (I really must get her name ^^; ) agreed. “I don’t even remember the last time I shopped retail. That’s why I shop here [at the flea market].” I think customers will start to demand higher quality garments across the board (except budget level), because we’re tired of crap clothes that won’t even last a year. She complained about even big brands producing in China (geography isn’t really the quality problem tho…) and mills disappearing in the US (really more true for New York, actually), but that’s not the point. The point was her question: “But even if you had a wardrobe full of all the clothes you really NEEDED, would that really stop you from shopping more?”

My answer? “I… well… No. It wouldn’t.”

America is the first post-industrial society in the world and we are the world’s target market. For a long time now, everyone’s wanted to sell to Americans because we love buying things. Consumption (and management, I guess) is our main function on the world stage.

Which brings me back to art and design.

So much brilliant creativity and ingenious design is produced in order to – you guessed it – sell things. Now, what I’m trying to figure out is if this is a bad thing? Humans need extra things to survive and thrive, and designers help make these extra things beautiful and pleasant to be around. But I think we’ve been over-focused on the act of consumption. For quite a while there, you “needed” visible brands (wow, just think of the word. “To brand” o_o ) to make you cool. To announce your social status and tastes to all the world. Even Yohji put his name on the outside of his clothes for a while there (it was kinda surreal seeing in person – he’s usually such a quiet designer.) Fashion has become the ultimate example of planned obsolescence.

I realized that as I rifled through the flea market racks, I was checking the labels on each piece that intrigued me. I was only marginally interested in status and, admittedly, only a little more in fiber content. I was looking for names to associate with excellence. Who has done something awesome? Why, exactly, was Helmut Lang brilliant? Ooh, never heard of this, I should look it up… The flea market is my second education – my weekend class. I am quite ready to admit that I am very far behind on fashion history and VERY far out of the loop in pop culture in general. Logically, my predictions should be foolishness. But…

Maybe it’s self-confirmation bias, but I and Ms. Sozzani are not the only people who see a huge change on the horizon. Customers are about to demand things that this industry is not ready to give to them. I believe that small design companies will grow even more important –  perhaps, for the first time in decades, on a regional scale. You don’t need to sell at every major department store to be successful… maybe just a few local boutiques. Or a few websites that are “local” to each-other in terms of style and aesthetic.

Like Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, I find it disorienting to be on this side of the question. “Hey, I’m an artist – I work to create beauty. Money or ‘selling’ shouldn’t be part of the equation. So why is it?” I realize that I often  write snippets of business plan, marketing technique, and other little realizations in my sketchbooks. Walt Disney wasn’t an entirely cool guy, but like him, I aim to “make money to make movies” (or in my case, awesome clothes). Money is our current society’s most efficient way of spreading around a physical product. It’d be pretty awesome to have open-source fashion of a sort (actually, Mary Huang is doing something a bit like it). I suppose BurdaStyle‘s free, printable patterns are close, but not enough people sew to truly democratize fashion (then again, not everyone codes UNIX either. xD ) SO! I learn and master the current fashion cycle model, play the game for a while, and break where and when its right, and hopefully, my audience will follow. Hopefully I can create something beautiful and well-made and accessible in the process.

I think that we are about to hit another 80’s. 70’s-like, we’ve been languishing in this recession, with a few industries (like fashion) desperately holding  on to old “trendsetting” modalities.  And it has survived… barely. And hey guess what guys, it’s PARTY TIME again and everyone’s sparkly and kira kira except for a few excellent, visionary designers working in the shadows. And I don’t say this  just because I hate 80’s fashion. Those strong women with substantial shoulders, cropped hair, and relaxed dolman sleeves of the Antonio illustrations were really beautiful.

Illustration by Antonio for Linea, March 1985 issue

Illustration by Antonio for Linea, March 1985 issue. Courtesy Fashion Institute of Technology Library - Fashion Files

Art Deco had a nice revival then. Avant garde design finally grasped the spotlight in the 80’s and 90’s. Fashion will both never and always be where it “should” be. Just ask James Laver. We’re going 70’s-80’s-90’s again, but in the space of a few years instead of decades, but hey, that the singularity for you. xD I’m so far out of the loop that this has probably been happening right now, under my internet nose. But I want to find it and be part of it. Now’s my chance. So I create and make and put the work here, for everyone to see. And I wonder, and I invite you all wonder with me.

Love and Blessings,

Naomi R.

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I recently completed a major design presentation project. The assignment: design and illustrate a small coordinating collection of 3 coats and 2 suits (skirt or pants).

Click for high res.

It was refreshing to have some free reign on a design project for once. (Our previous assignment was a spring/summer J. Crew line – useful experience, but not terribly exciting). I’ve been learning a lot about some of the major Japanese designers, so this “ode” is more of an homage to their late 70s “crow tribe” fanbase.

I’d love some constructive critique on this, especially on execution and balance of the figures. I am working towards a style that is both pretty to look at an informative to, say, a tech designer or a patternmaker. Actually, looking at it in thumbnail form, I’m already starting to see a couple places worthy of improvement…




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