by Giulia Cassano
I decide to work on a small jacket of a weird brilliant light green colour.
I take it out from a bag where I usually put old clothes; I took it from the vintage shop where I used to work: it was an old-fashioned one that nobody wanted any more.
Its colour is very gaudy – probably it dates back to the 1960s/70s — it is a pointed-collar jacket made of natural raw cotton, which is perfectly suitable for dyeing.
The style is rather “country”: there is an embroidery design on the basquine depicting a Native American wearing the typical feather headdress and holding bow and arrows. Since it is a funny and unusual detail, I decide not to remove it, but rather to take advantage of it as a creative idea to start the transformation of this garment!
The issue of Native Americans is one that is close to my heart; the way they live in perfect harmony with nature and the deep connection with spirituality have always been a source of great inspiration and teaching, especially in our modern society that does not take account of natural rhythms and Earth’s rhythms.
But let’s go back to our second-hand piece of clothing, the Sixties is a period of great ferment in which young hippies seeks a new way of life and thinking, far from the ideology of the middle class, based on personal freedom (ideological, sexual and political) and on nonviolence. The Vietnam War causes massive deaths and the Native Americans, great respecters of living creatures, represent an ideal from which the hippie movement draws.
A sign of support for the cause of this wonderful people oppressed and destroyed.
Braids, fringe and suede always look trendy and stylish, think of last year’s fashion collections that rediscovered the typical native American prints, together with sheepskin, necklaces and jewels, and, last but not least, the famous dreamcatcher, which, according to Native Americans, filters out all bad dreams (taken away by the wind /feathers) and only allows good thoughts to enter our mind. The dreamcatcher has become one of the most recognizable symbols of the Native American cultures and still a beloved object because of its poetic, evocative and aesthetic power.
I take inspiration from this to create some earrings, the perfect accessory for the jacket.
Various steps to transform the jacket and to create the earrings
I start with the home-made clothing dye. I mix some fabric dyes in boiling water, I use dark brown, grey and burgundy colous so that I can obtain a dark army green thanks to the original colour of the jacket (which is green).
I cut off the cuffs and turn the full-length sleeves into three-quarter-length ones, with the aim to modernize the jacket’s style and shape also by adding some fringes. Then I sew the same tone-on-tone fringes on the jacket’s bottom and attach a golden chain which creates a nice contrast with the rugged style of the garment.
To create the earrings I use gold coloured metal clips, some vintage scraps I found in an accessory manufacturing company, to which I attach some leather rings that were previously decorated with thread and glittering embellishments, and then I add two fringes (similar to the ones used for the jacket) to the rings.
Native American Myths, by Spence Lewis, Dover Thrift Editions
Hippie, La rivoluzione mancata, Pollini Luca, Bevivino Editore (NdT: Text not available in English)