Greg Lauren & the Gee’s Bend Quilters Made Wearable Art


In our age of super-fast consumerism, Greg Lauren has a zeal for patience. Its slow approach to reconstruction finds new life for otherwise unwanted waste and textiles, a tedious process that undermines the typical plus-plus-plus industry mentality.

Thus, Lauren’s partnership with Gee’s Bend Quilters gives the impression that the designer is both paying his due and paying the fame gained by his own designs.

For generations, the black community of Gee’s Bend, Alabama produced some awesome quilts that only started recently to receive well-deserved praise.

Lauren is looking to further increase the fame of the Gee’s Bend quilting community with this collaborative partnership, which debuted this week as a deliverable exhibit from Bergdorf Goodman’s menswear store called Mosaic. Lauren went to great lengths to celebrate the women who helped shape this clothing line.

For example, their names are literally sewn into each garment and all proceeds from the collection will go to Gee’s Bend.

I met Lauren in Bergdorf to talk about the collection. Right away, he highlighted the heritage of the collection of 96 unique pieces of clothing. Not only is each piece signed by the participating quilter, but each woman’s biographies are sewn into matching garments that use their quilts.

To create this line, Lauren was in constant communication with the participating Gee’s Bend quilters. He sent the bucket women of his Scrap fabric and they set to work assembling the textile fragments into hand-quilted panels.

These were shipped to Lauren’s Los Angeles studio when finished, where her team sewn everything into the puffer jackets, shawl collar shirts and cargo pants that Lauren is best known for.

Lauren compared Gee’s Bend quilts to painter Josef Albers, noting that their artistic mediums fuel the gap between them. Given the utilitarian nature of quilts, Lauren said, the medium has, ironically, been historically undervalued compared to the ornamental “fine arts”.

Recently, Raf Simons received platitudes from American Folk Art Museum for pushing the quilt during his tenure at Calvin Klein (fun, considering he’s a Belgian designer) and one of Lauren’s Gee’s Bend quilt designs was installed in the last Met show.

Creators love Emilie Bode, whose work is featured in the same exhibition, and ERL, who outfitted A $ AP Rocky with a vintage quilt, were also part of the quilt’s resurgence

Since the American flag was created by a dedicated quilter, respect for humble hand-sewn textiles has been a long time coming.

It’s frustrating to see quilters and their works relegated to “foreign” or “folk” art, Lauren said. He prefers not to be labeled as an American designer, which is fair but, even still, his domestic craft and Gee’s Bend legacy at least to some extent represent the aesthetic ethic of the country.

Either way, there may be a folk quality to quilting, but quilting is an art form in its own right, and Lauren’s new line aims to play at least some role in reshaping the respect. audience for the medium.

Quilts play, after all, a crucial role in the fabric of America.


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