Favorite Designers

A Little Drama, Please

© Lauren Doyle / MFb

Karelle Levy, the mind behind Krelwear, sees her design as a direct reflection of her performance art. Her pieces are inventive (right down to the fabric that she creates herself), and theatrical in their own right. Which is not surprising considering she grew up in the theater and on the loom, alongside her mother who designed large, elaborate needle points, some of which hang in Krelwear's Wynwood studio.

These dual interests have helped define Levy's career. The clothing she creates – from the drapey tunics to the tubular dresses to the over-the-top tops – are bold, sexy, and theatrical. 

"People always tell me that when they want to get noticed, they wear my clothes," Levy says.

And anyone can wear them. "What's so beautiful about knit is that it fits most – if not all – body types, so instead of making things in different sizes, I make one piece, and that piece fits anyone from a size zero to a size 16."

And for those of you thinking Knit? Miami? Levy says Miami is the perfect place for knit.  "Knit is a structure, it's not a fabric. It's the way a fabric is made. So if you think about it, Miami is perfect for knits because it's a chain link of yarn...it's a stretchy material..." So it's comfortable, and depending on the design, cool and breezy too.

Take for example a staple of her ready to wear line, the thin, convertible tunic that can be worn as a tank, a dress, and as a belted tunic.

Every piece of Krelwear begins on a spool. "I make all of my fabric, Levy explains. "That to me is my art."© Lauren Doyle / MFbEvery piece of Krelwear begins on a spool. "I make all of my fabric, Levy explains. "That to me is my art."For many years, when Levy wasn't making clothes, she was making costumes for the performance art productions she'd stage in venues all around town. "There's so much you can say without saying anything," Levy says of these productions, in which a series of costumed actors would move in and out of the space, provoking the audience to observe, and even speak up.

"Between the performer and the audience, there's that wall. And I'm always breaking that wall," she says.

Now, Levy's brining that energy to her runway shows, turning them into performances in their own right. "[Now] they're more performative and out of the box... [I'm] trying to make something fun...a visual experience, rather than just a straight-up runway show."

Plus, "it's fun to create these stories."

It's practical too. 

"In a way it becomes a performance itself, entertaining the crowd. Because after a while [runway shows] blend together, and it's not that exciting. You can't remember anything."

For Levy, the designs inform the productions, and the productions inform the designs, in an ever-moving, ever-evolving loop, not unlike the chain of yarn she creates on her loom. "The production is not just the show, or the piece, it's how I can do the show."

And when Levy takes her show on the road, she's performing in another way, making clothing on the fly in a project she calls Krel-To-Go. 

Krel-To-Go started with Levy making pieces quickly for friends. She then started opening up her studio during Art Basel to make pieces for passersby, once again blurring the line between fashion design and art. Now, Levy travels with her sewing machine, fabric, scissors and a Polaroid camera (which all fit in one suitcase) in what she calls a "traveling trunk show." 

Wherever she is, Levy says she creates clothing "for someone who wants to be sexy but who is also really lazy. It is lazy girl sexy clothing."

To get your own lazy/sexy girl clothing, head on over to SmashingDarling.com.

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t. @
06:01AM on September 17, 2010
She is amazing! Love the sexy/lazy approach.
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