Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The art of dressing up with designer Beth Pilger

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 3:47 PM

No one who reads this blog will argue that fashion isn't art — the colors, the cuts, the designs, the way a fabric accentuates a person's figure? All art. But local fashion designer Beth Pilger recognizes that dressing up is an art as well.

Pilger has been interested in design since high school. She attended Parsons The New School for Design for three years before deciding to pursue business. "While I was there, I did everything from assisting and costuming and learned very quickly that fashion is predominantly business driven," she says.

After some years in the private industry, Pilger moved to Charlotte and in 2009, started her own clothing line, which she unveiled at Charlotte NC Fashion Week. Her clothing line targets women in their twenties to sixties.

"One thing that I am trying to focus on is actually getting back to more sustainable products where you can buy a dress or a shirt or a pair of pants and it actually becomes a staple in your wardrobe that you could wear through several seasons," she says. "For the spring and summer collection I focused a lot on having contemporary pieces that were made with classic fabrics and tailoring."

Pilger calls her staple items simplistic, but when you look at some of her custom pieces, they are anything but. From glancing through her portfolio online, some of the dresses stand out as dramatic, eye-catching, bold, and maybe even a little forbidden. For example, the Cupcake dress:

MD Jan

I'd hardly call that simplistic or sustainable.

"With Charlotte being a new market and with me being a new designer in this area, it was important for me to continue to show my versatility," Pilger says. "So while the staples of the collection are really what makes the company money, you always like having items like accessories or custom dresses that people can also identify with, and that’s one area of my business that I really enjoy doing. I like working with my private clients and being able to create something for them that’s one of a kind."

As for inspiration, she says that people are her muse. Also: "My inspiration for my spring and summer 2011 collection is actually from recently watching Gone With the Wind and looking at those gorgeous gowns that were made for the inlay and just being inspired by that."

One scene in particular from that movie has influenced this designer to appreciate the art of dressing up. "It’s the scene where Scarlett has to have a decent dress to go visit Rhett. She doesn’t want him to think that she’s lost all her money and they’ve become poor, so she looks at the drapes and she’s like, 'I’m going to make something out of this.' So then she comes out with this gorgeous green outfit that was supposedly made out of the drapes, and I just got immediately inspired by that because I’m always looking at different elements that could play into an outfit."

According to Pilger, today's society has gotten lazy when it comes to getting dressed. Many people — including this writer — won't even try on an outfit at the store anymore. We "dress down" instead of "dress up" nowadays. But with the collection she's working on now, she aspires to bring back the "dressing up" aspect of clothing.

"There’s just something so, I don’t know, romantic, about it — it’s a lost art," she says. "We’ve made it so that it’s like throwing on your PJs, instead of making it more glamorous, you know, as glamorous as it used to be. Women used to spend hours just getting ready to go out for dinner. We’ve become such a mass consumption society, the art of dressing has just been lost. I mean, just think if your entire wardrobe was made of all clothing that fit you, you know, how much of it would you wear? I think more women would dress up and actually enjoy the art of dressing if they actually had clothes that were made for them. A lot of my custom pieces, my dresses, even the black dress [pictured below], are not something that you can just necessarily throw on."

MD Jan

Sure, maybe little girls play "dress up" more often than we ladies do, but with an outfit like the above pictured, you can't tell me you wouldn't want to actually take the time to get a little dolled up.

For more information or to contact Beth Pilger, visit her site at

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