The American Craft Council hopes to spark a new conversation this Friday and Saturday with the exhibition "Style Slam," a focus on the intersection of fashion and crafts, at this year's annual craft show at the Baltimore Convention Center.
"When putting craft into context, usually I hear [about] macrame or noodles sprayed with gold paint. This is not that," said Pamela Diamond, director of marketing and communications for the American Craft Council, which has been displaying artisanal creations at its shows for nearly 50 years.
The nonprofit craft organization has enlisted five stylists for "Style Slam" — including Baltimore stylist Heidi Slacum and Timonium designer Ella Pritsker of Ella Moda Custom Couture — to scour the showroom floors on Friday and Saturday, in search of wearable crafts among the works of 650 featured artists.
Stylists will post photos of their favorite fashion finds on social media and will use "Style Slam" tags to highlight their picks at different booths. Stylists will also create their own form of live art, incorporating chosen crafts into styles displayed on mannequins and live models at the stylists' booths and on the showroom floor.
The exhibition is a way to articulate the expansive scope of crafts and how homemade items can be worked into an everyday wardrobe, said Diamond. It's about hand-knitted sweaters, homemade jewelry and runway-worthy pieces that were thoughtfully made, she said — "the antithesis of mass production."
"The word 'craft' has elevated within the last 10 years with Etsy and the DIY movement ... showing that the handcrafted or artisanally made is of value," Diamond said.
Pritsker, who has designed her fashion line Ella Moda for nearly a decade, said people are searching for customized items now more than ever.
"Everything found in stores is the same fabric and style, but big malls are closing down, and the pendulum is swinging back to the little shops. It's just the beginning," said Pritsker, who hopes to convey a timeless Audrey Hepburn-esque look while at the show. "I know consumers are looking for a more unique expression and style for themselves ... and I love that idea."
Stylists will also collaborate with the show's featured interior designers to provide commentary on style and design at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and will give four show attendees a live fashion makeover from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, with the big reveal at 1:30 p.m.