Inspiration Is All Around Us
Maps have a the ability to bring back memories of excursions in our past or create longing for new adventures. The making of maps, possibly as old as the making of leather, has developed over the centuries into a beautiful art form. I drew inspiration for my forthcoming travel collection from cartography of the nineteenth century, a robust period driven by the increase in world travel and industrialization. The Victorian era’s influence on travel is reflected in everything from its vintage maps to private train cars. To invoke a bit of vintage travel nostalgia I packed up my swatchbook and sketchpad to take a round trip hop to Mt. Cuba on the Wilmington Western Railroad .
The gentle sway of the train, the music like churn of wheels on track easily lead to day-dreaming. My thoughts wandered to the allure of maps and the way they make us yearn for adventure. Romantically portrayed in Hollywood movies, trains have been used as a stage for intimate conversation and provoking thought. Travel in beautifully decorated train cars is a rarity today. Yet maps and railways have a profound relationship that have shaped borders and continue to fuel our imaginations. A quick fashion sketch on the train ride sets the groundwork for my design. I combine elements from both cartography and Victorian travel. I start with colors: chestnut brown joined with red, olive, black. The marriage of vintage map inspired fabrics and pebbled grained leathers set the mood for this collection.
Leather craft and Garment Craft
The Fortuna trench coat is made in cotton twill canvas combined with chestnut brown calfskin leather. Red piping follows the princess seams and edges. A cheetah print lining in polyester satin , allows the coat to slip on smoothly. Polyester was chosen to provide warmth without the bulk of heavy materials. As you can see in the makers video below, there are a number of layers that are placed in the trench to add body and structure to the finished garment. Camel hair canvas is one such layer, which gives the breast, lapels and collar endurance . Leather and the structure layer does add some slight weight. However that trade-off is made to give the garment a head turning presentation and a long life of performance.
One More Small Step to Sustainability
One of the key mantras of my brand is lowering the level of waste in creating beautiful fashion. The fabric used here is from a retired print no longer produced by the original mill. It's use in my Fortuna travel bags and Fortuna outerwear is limited because only a small number of yards were available before it was discontinued. Big fashion discourages use of discontinued patterns, but I feel that just contributes to the waste we see in fashion. My customers love the fact that this particular print is not longer available. My use of it in a unique accessory or garment , assures them that it will stand out that much more. That is the biggest appeal of a limited edition item. This is just one of the ways that small designers like me, fold sustainable practices into our day to day operations.
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