Top 5 Asheville Designers
Western North Carolina's talented artists have found their inspiration—the crisp air, the mountain views, the we-love-artists skew of the city itself—and they’re here to stay. Here are our favorites.
R. Brooke Priddy, Ship to Shore Clothier
“Asheville is home to so many incredible artists, thinkers, and makers,” Brooke says of the town she adopted in 2002. She produces custom wedding dresses and other gowns from modal (reconstituted cellulose from beech trees).
“I use it with a 5% spandex blend; it drapes exquisitely.” Being a traditionalist, too, Brooke incorporates heirloom textiles and adds insets or appliqué. Her work is available through her studio, 428-A Haywood Road (by appointment). Find lingerie and swimsuits, also part of her line, at Honeypot, 86 North Lexington Avenue. Bridal gowns start at $1,000. shiptoshoreshop.com or 828/242-1378
Joyce Yarling, SewWow, Waechter’s Fine Fabrics
Joyce started designing as a child in 4-H competitions, then went on to study fashion. As owner of one of the South’s largest and oldest fabric shops, she creates outfits for children, brightly embellishing patterns with her own flair, then puts together kits (pattern and fabric) for the home sewer to carry out the vision. “We’ve begun to see more people wanting to sew for the children in their lives,” she says. “We can pair non-sewers with expert sewers to make the garments, if necessary.” Joyce’s SewWow, a business within her fabric store, features a choice of about 120 fashion designs a year, from party dresses to playwear for children from babies to age 12. She sells some samples of the items at the end of each season. You can see the collections at Waechter’s Fine Fabrics, 9D Reed Street, in Biltmore Village, or online. Kits run $30-$120. waechters.com, sewwow.com, or 828/274-3146
Barbara Zaretsky, BZ Design
Barbara left Chicago for Asheville nine years ago in search of a supportive climate for creating a line of clothing and home-furnishing textiles. “My work has gotten less complicated since I moved here,” she says. “The landscape and colors are so different than the Midwest. I’ve been inspired to use natural dyes on hand-spun, hand-woven silk.” Barbara works with a clamp resist technique called shibori (similar to tie-dye) and embroiders and block prints the fabrics. Her simple A-line silk or silk-cotton blend dresses ($195-$225, in small, medium, and large) can be waist-cinched with her scarves. She also produces shawls ($85-$425) plus a line of home accessories. Her studio in Cotton Mill Studios, 122 Riverside Drive, Studio D, in the River Arts District, is open to visitors (call before going). Barbara’s work is also available at Grovewood Gallery, 111 Grovewood Road, and The Bascom, 323 Franklin Road, Highlands. bzdesign.biz or 828/505-2958
Lisa Klakulak, Strongfelt
Penland School of Crafts drew Lisa to Western North Carolina in 2005 from a job natural-dyeing fabrics in New Mexico and an artist residency in Tennessee. Today she colors, felts, stitches, and beads the blend of animal fleece and cocoon silk into wearable textiles like scarves, hats, handbags, and even modern-day gauntlets for hands and arms. Lisa’s high-end work ($150-$1,200) can be found locally at Grovewood Gallery, at Penland’s shop, and on her Web site. Because she leads workshops around the globe and also works with K-12 art students, Lisa doesn’t regularly open her Asheville studio. strongfelt.com, 828/253-7651, or 877/622-7238
Elise Olson, On the Inside
From a one-room studio in the River Arts District, Elise runs her custom undergarment business with worldwide clientele. She started this second career five years ago (after designing and installing gardens) when her daughter Zoe was a toddler. Her line includes camisoles, nightwear, and undergarments in super-soft fabrics (examples: bamboo or organic cotton jersey knits and stretch lace). Each piece is made to order, based on the client’s precise measurements. “I cut out every piece by hand,” Elise says.
Her workplace in Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts Street, is open varying hours (call before going; appointment required for fittings). Order too through Custom Boutique, 415 Haywood Road, Honeypot, and on etsy.com. Undergarments and nightgowns run $19-$59. ontheinside.etsy.com or 828/606-8483