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SoWeBo's 'turf dresser has a new thing: jewelry

You can be a Bohemian for a day on Sunday at the 11th annual SoWeBohemian Festival -- southwest Baltimore's way of telling the town what the neighborhood is all about. The area around Hollins Market attracts residents who are highly creative if not high-tax bracket.

Artist and designer Kim Brown will have a booth where she will be selling her own jewelry, screen-printed clothes and found-fashion items. She says she makes only what she likes, so her efforts never go to waste and are just as likely to wind up in her closet.

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This is her eighth festival, but she has graduated from hawking her craft at street fairs to orders from hip Greenwich Village shops. She waits tables at Gypsy's Cafe between jewelry orders. Her heart is still in the neighborhood, and she wouldn't miss tweaking the tourists for all the world.

So do you consider yourself a Bohemian?

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Well, if that means out of the ordinary, yes. I'm an original, not that I go out of my way to draw attention to myself. I like color. I like to mix unexpected patterns in a way that surprises but works. I'm willing to try anything.

Is there anything you wouldn't wear?

I wouldn't dream of wearing any khaki preppie stuff. I wouldn't be caught dead in Birkenstock sandals -- although they are comfortable. I wouldn't touch tie-dye -- it's no longer edgy.

What is your current fashion mood?

I'm breaking out my summer clothes -- I love mini-dresses and flowery things and my purple suede skirt. I'm now very into lilac and purple.

Isn't that color theme just a tad little-old-lady with lavender rinse?

I love the idea of a lavender rinse and think my hair has been that color. I'm a bleached blonde now, but I order Manic Panic hair dye by the crate. It's a vegetable-based dye imported from England in great colors -- flamingo pink, apple green, daffodil.

Would you change your hair color to match an outfit?

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No, although I was green and thought about what I put on.

Are you into fashion mags?

I think Paper out of New York is great and on the cutting edge. I actually made the Cultural Sushi feature.

What spells fashion for you?

Fashion can be art, depending on who's creating and who's wearing it. It's what you put together to make a whole person that makes it happen. Going against fashion is what creates it.

Where do you shop?

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Someone who likes fashion the way I do has two options -- go super-high like Vivienne Westwood or Gaultier, or the rock-bottom stuff in thrift shops. The in-between mall stuff is really boring.

Is there a memorable fashion moment in your life?

I used to sing and keyboard in a band which has since broken up. We played the SoWeBo festival a few years ago, and I wore an Astroturf outfit -- a green fuzzy miniskirt and bikini top and shoes. They're still talking about it.

Do you have an accessory obsession?

My own jewelry, of course. I don't make anything I don't love. I design in sterling and use some real stones, but I also work with molded plastic and poured resins with imbedded interesting bugs and things, flowers.

Then, I love shoes. Platforms, Maryjanes.

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Do you collect clothes?

Tons. I'm now especially interested in photo-realistic polyester prints from the '70s. Designers are doing them again, but I only value the old ones.

Do you feel you're too fashion forward for Baltimore?

When people don't understand, it can get rough. I get abusive comments, like "It's not Halloween, is it?"

Love the large sculptural silver rings you wear.

I make them. I wear them and I stamp them KGB. My monogram.

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Pub Date: 5/23/96


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