I briefly flip through my Etsy favorites lists a couple of times daily, just to see if there are any new items posted by my favorite designers. One day, a thumbnail photo for a new dress listed in the Janeane Marie shop caught my eye, as it was exactly what I hadn't known I was looking for. I instantly messaged Janeane through Etsy, and she was kind enough to send me close up photos as soon as she got to her studio. As I was waiting though, I read through her profile and was instantly intrigued by her stance on being an eco-friendly designer. And so, when replying back concerning the dress that was soon to be mine, I asked her if she would be interested in answering a few questions for my blog. Little did I know that the day before it had been announced that Janeane was a contestant on the 7th season of Project Runway, which was about to start a couple weeks from then! I am quite honoured that Janeane took the time to answer my wee little questions, especially as she is quite the busy girl at the moment. So, set your VCRs for Thursday night (does anyone else still own a VCR?), and get to know the newest Etsyian from Portland to take reality TV by storm...
What is the very first piece you remember designing?
I made a realllllly bad sleeveless top for a introductory draping class. I was assigned french darts and a convertible collar. I dyed the muslin salmon pink, and sewed the collar to the armhole by mistake.
What is your most treasured piece of clothing?
I have a vintage silk taffeta skirt in black, it's really beautiful. I got it for $7 in a town at the coast, it's worth so much more! And I also have a black lace LaCroix skirt that was given to me by a friend that didn't fit it anymore... I really don't own any designer label pieces, so that one is special to me.
Do you wear your own designs?
I just started to. I'm wearing the Colony dress now (pictured to the left), from my Fall/Holiday 09 collection. It might be my new favorite thing! I've never had time to make myself pieces before, but sometimes I'll pull a sample from my rack and say, oooh look at you, you are mine now.
Portland seems to have such a treasure trove of designers and other artists. Does living there affect your designs?
Absolutely. I am really inspired by nature - the mountains and the sea, trees, the sky... it would be hard for me to be any place other than the Pacific Northwest.
You previously worked for Leanne Marshall, winner of season 5 of Project Runway. Is this what prompted you to apply for Project Runway?
Working with Leanne didn't effect my decision to apply. I actually never had the desire to be on the show. It all sort of happened at the last minute.
You've said: "I don't consider myself an eco-designer, since I see that it is a part of good design to be as environmentally efficient as possible." How do you incorporate this into your work? Do you find it difficult to be eco-conscious in the fashion industry?
I think that designers have a vital role in the future of this world - my goal is to make people stop and ask: do I need this, or do I want this? What am I supporting if I buy this? Fashion can be really tricky for me - I love what I do, but I'm always trying to remind myself about WHY I'm doing it. At the end of the day, I believe in it. I can't rely on materials to be more ethical. I really think that business practices outweigh the materials when considering ways to be sustainable.
Being in the fashion industry is especially difficult. It's notorious for causing pollution and bad work environments for underpaid workers around the world. I can't change everything - but I can do my part, and make choices to produce locally, and NOT use certain fabrics for example.
Do you listen to music while you work, and what is your favorite?
Always - music is a big part of what I do. right now I'm listening to Cassadega by Bright Eyes, and also Conor Oberst, The Flaming Lips, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Le Loup, Yeasayer, the Black Lips, Bat for Lashes.... the music has to be the soundtrack for the mood. I need all my senses engaged when I design!
If you were not a designer, what do you see yourself doing for a career?
If I could meet four-year-old Janeane and look her in the eyes, I would hand her a pain of drumsticks and say: "Here. Learn how to use these and get good. Then go make music forever." So, I'd would definitely play the drums if I could do anything else. Even though I have absolutely no musical talent in this lifetime. Or I would make pottery. That is more likely. Live by the sea, make pottery, and write.
Who would you most like to see wearing one of your designs?
A woman who can take one of my pieces and make it their own - just love it and work it and feel amazing in it.
What is coming up next for your label?
I'm trying to wrap my brain around that one myself. Things are happening so fast. I've got to be smart!
And lastly, what is your most favorite piece from your newest collection?
I love the mini leather skirt, but also the Totem Dress (pictured below)... It's very simple, but throw on a giant necklace and great pair of shoes and it's instantly chic!
I know the show is already taped and what not, but all the best to Janeane on PR! You can catch Janeane on Project Runway Thursday nights on Lifetime, and you can own a little bit o' television history if you bid on her gorgeous designs from each episode's challenge here (the grey and burgundy burlap sack dress above is being auctioned until Thursday night!). Also, make sure to visit Janeane's website, Etsy shop, and her blog for updates on this brilliant Portland designer!