The Dress Project

Brooklyn folk collective Fort Makers create wearable art in their latest venture


Combining art and fashion in the literal sense, The Dress Project is a creative endeavor in dressmaking using silk and cotton fabric hand-painted by artist Naomi Clark of Brooklyn’s playful cohort, Fort Makers. Clark, along with co-founder Nana Spears, tapped fashion designer Lauren Nevada to create the dress form—a simple button-down shirt-dress intended to convey a sense of all-American style. “As we brought our ideas together, we realized this design would, on one hand, be the most symbolic piece we could find,” explains Nevada, while also noting that the relaxed silhouette (requiring few seams), would complement the garment’s identity as a wearable canvas.

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The one-off frocks showcase Clark’s vibrant artistry, a form of object metamorphosis executed through the use of organically painted geometric shapes and patterns, bold brushstrokes and lively, often eye-popping colors. “The results are a wonderful surprise,” adds Nevada. “We found compositions hidden under the collars and button tabs sometimes—details that make them very special.”

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The dresses will be available at Bird boutique in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhod, which will also be a temporary gallery space for pieces from Fort Makers’ inaugural venture, The Blanket Project. Employing a similar perspective and aesthetic toward textile art, the two-year-old collective self-dubbed “urban folk artists” source secondhand wool camping blankets from flea markets, garage sales and eBay, which are then cut, dyed, and sewn into new quilts.

The dresses will retail for $745 at Bird, as well as at Louis in Boston.