Exhibitions Gallery Information

OFF THE RAILS – fashion designer Todd Thomas – October 6, 2011


New York Fashion Designer Todd Thomas Showcases A Unique Installation of His Work

Opening Thursday, October 6, 2011 – 6-8pm at the Des Lee Gallery

October 6, 2011 – November 12, 2011

ST. LOUIS – Craft Alliance is pleased to announce a one-man exhibit at the Des Lee Gallery, featuring the stunning creations of New York fashion designer Todd Thomas. The exhibition, which opens on Thursday, October 6 and runs into November, follows the audacious career of fashion designer Todd Thomas, starting with his story-like, local beginning here in Saint Louis. Currently, Thomas occupies a glittering position in the world of fashion, and he credits Saint Louis with establishing his creative foundation during the relatively brief but productive period he spent here in the early 1980s. It was the pinnacle of a kind of Do-it-Yourself Renaissance in Saint Louis, where anything was possible for young artists, clothing makers and performers, all of whom found endless inspiration in each other and what they were doing.

A mass exodus from the city center to the suburbs in the 1960s and ‘70s meant big empty spaces at cheap rents. The rag trade meant endless cheap clothing and fabrics to play with, and punk rock and art flourished in this fertile, jumping counterculture. From Saint Louis, Thomas went to New York, where he developed his craft in many different realms, from designing for the theater and films, to working in the fashion houses of Seventh Avenue.

Today Todd Thomas couldn’t live in a more glamorous world, designing for the likes of Katy Perry, Sarah Jessica Parker, Deborah Harry & Blondie, Cindy Sherman and Parker Posey.  He created Deborah Harry’s distinctive look for her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he’s dressed up  Sex and the City, helped Jennifer Lopez in developing her fashion line, and sharpened up the Scissor Sisters. He has collaborated with a veritable Who’s Who of the most important fashion editors, stylist and photographers, including Katie Grand, Tonne Goodman, Lori Goldstein, Steven Meisel, Patrick Demarchelier and Terry Richardson. And for the last eight consecutive seasons, Thomas has been responsible for the ultimate glamour event: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, creating fantastic, opulent works of art to adorn the most beautiful and well-known super models in the world.

When designing for celebrities, Thomas’s creations are at once chic, elegant and “red carpet,” sometimes over-the-top and veering into the fantastic. His own collections, for both men and women, are always very conceptual, making use of original prints and eclectic choices of fabrics–beautiful, surprising even when classic, and always wholly original.

He points out that his menswear collections have seen a complete rediscovery of the importance of craft, made manifest in the keen, acute sense of detail in the tailoring and the fine art of handwork. He laments the fading of those arts in the United States, and remains a diehard champion of what’s left of it to find, grateful for being able to work with an actual tailoring factory in New York. “The sad truth,” says Thomas, “is that it’s next to impossible, even in New York City, because the resources have all but dried up.” Thomas is in many ways a purist, perhaps more comfortable in the company of tailors and seamstresses than with marketing execs, but he knows how to work it all effortlessly.

Along with the big glamour, Thomas continues to collaborate with likeminded others on projects much more underground for the pure pleasure of experimentation and the importance of continued creative development. His work runs the gamut from highly commercial to the exact opposite, and he’s equally comfortable doing both.

In addition to the exhibition, Thomas is a featured speaker of the Fashion Lab’s Yarn lecture series at Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. As a designer with a particular reverence for craft, Thomas can’t say enough on the importance of celebrating fashion at Craft Alliance, stressing the point that craft, in fact, is the very essence of fashion.