Zoe Grinfeld’s irreverent and whimsical vision



Connecticut fashion designer Zoe Grinfeld showed a splash of irreverence and whimsy as her latest collection was shown at Styleweek in Rhode Island this past weekend.

Grinfeld, who is from Colchester, Conn., found herself with a national platform as a designer at age 15. She was the winner of the reality series, “Project Runway: Threads,” a junior off shoot of the iconic “Project Runway.”

But her interest in style started earlier.

“I started designing and having fashion shows at such a young age, like 11 and 12, so I’m sort of going through a transitionary period in my work,” said Grinfeld in the wake of her show at Styleweek in Providence, R.I. on Sept. 21.

The latest collection demonstrated a touch of fashion rebellion. And Grinfeld said the collection reflects where she is now in her life.

But, there needed to be some creative mental gymnastics for her to accept who she was as a designer as she nears the end of her college years.

“When I first started at (Rhode Island School of Design for fashion), I had sort of an identity crisis about my artistic process- like how do I transition from being a kid designer to being an adult designer? ” said Grinfeld.

“I finally came to the realization after my junior year that I don’t have to flip a switch and reinvent myself,” said Grinfeld. “I’m not a totally different person just because I’ve grown up.”

“I think without me even really realizing it,” said Grinfeld, “my work has grown up with me.”

“Right now,” she said, “I’m really just about having fun and living life and not really caring what people think of me and I think that reflects in the work that I make.”

Grinfeld mined a plethora of unconventional materials for her garments at Styleweek. There was a dress and a jumpsuit made of Twister games. There were playing cards and dice tossed in as well.

“In my early fashion shows I made clothes out of basically trash, whatever we had lying around the house that I could tear apart,” said Grinfeld. “I didn’t have access to a sewing machine or any knowledge of how to sew so I just started creating in any way I could.”

“I think,” said Grinfeld, “even through all of my formal training, this scrappy quality has really carried through in my work.”

“I’m just really inspired by objects and by reinterpreting objects into clothing,” said Grinfeld of her continued use of unconventional materials. “I look at things and I immediately just think about what I could make.”

“For a while, I leant away from making this kind of work because it’s not necessarily something you see in the mainstream,” said referencing her perceived need to grow up as a designer.

“But I’ve really been trying to come back around to it.

At the Rhode Island show, Grinfeld’s work also did not adhere to the typical approaches to gender. Both men and women walked the runway. But some garments could easily have been worn by one of the other.

“I don’t really think about gender when I design,” said Grinfeld. “I think limiting clothing to a gender is really just limiting clothing in general.

However she said, ” I don’t necessarily view (my designs) as one style fits all either.”

“When I develop collections, I usually start by casting my models, using a diverse range of people and friends of mine who inspire me,” said Grinfeld. “I then try to sort of tailor each look to that individual, not really considering whether I define it as menswear, womenswear, or unisex.”

As for who she sees wearing her clothes, Grinfeld said, “My customer is whoever wants to wear my clothes.”

“I’m not interested in this fictional muse that people make up,” said Grinfeld.

“I’m interested in real people who approach me ‑ mainly other artists who like using my work in collaborations, be it styling photoshoots, video projects, or performances,” said the designer.

“I think my work sort of walks the line between fashion and art,” she said.

For information about Zoe Grinfeld, visit ZoeGrinfeld.com.

For information about Zoe Grinfeld, visit ZoeGrinfeld.com.


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