Designer Joan Vorderbruggen is a multi-talented lady. When she’s not creating beautiful shop window displays from reclaimed materials, she’s sewing up stunning dresses out of vintage slips.
I first spotted Joan’s dresses when she shared a link on our sister site Crafting a Green World’s Facebook page. She lovingly hand-crafts each of her handmade dresses–sold under the brand name Lollycopter–using sewing and hand-dyeing techniques to transform thrift store finds into fashion. Joan was kind enough to do a Q&A with me about her work and what inspires her.
Feelgood Style: What inspires your upcycled slip dress collections?
Joan Vorderbruggen: My grandmother taught me the wonders of upcycling at a young age. She used to transform bread bags the family would collect into these amazing kitchen rugs and she was always so mindful of not wasting anything. I always admired her hard work teamed with such creativity and followed her example by finding ways to reuse found items, especially with my style of dress, which was truly the biggest form of creative expression for me growing up. That teamed with a very humble upbringing made upcycling this fabulously exciting game for me, so to speak, so that my focus wasn’t about what I didn’t have, but about what I could potentially do with what I did have.
In regards to my dress designs, vintage slips were once a staple garment in a woman’s wardrobe. Since falling out of fashion, I found that there were endless amounts of these lacy, silky, lovely garments hanging dormant on thrift store racks, some of them so intricately detailed with gorgeous lace patterns and appliqués. I developed a bit of a fetish, truly. I found myself sort of nursing many of them back to life, often having to mend frayed lace and ripped seams. It wasn’t until I began experimenting with dying techniques that they really took on a canvas like quality for me. I love imagining the woman who wore the slip as a functional garment beneath a pretty vintage dress decades upon decades ago, and the new life it’s given when I take it on and transform it into something a pretty lady will be excited to wear once more.
FGS: Who is your crafty hero?
JV: Marisa Lynch of New Dress a Day fame is incredibly inspirational to me. There are countless designers that I absolutely adore that create wondrous and massively involved garments from upcycled materials, but Marisa stands apart in the way she totally pushes herself to work at it every day with clothing she fully intends to wear and is madly talented at transforming a garish dress into a flattering, stylish garment in a flash! Her enthusiasm, commitment, and blogging savvy has invited and encouraged so many to go ahead and attempt an upcycling project. She makes it seem so fun and totally do-able to people who may have been sheepish to try it themselves.
FGS: Who in the fashion industry do you look up to?
JV: I really appreciate how much attention Stella McCartney has generated regarding ethical practices in her designs. She is so high profile and makes it seem like a simple task that reaps fabulous results which sets a real precedent.
FGS: Why is using upcycled materials important to you?
JV: It pushes me to be more creative, and it’s just something I have always done. Now more than ever I feel we could ALL benefit from looking for what we want within what we already have. I mean, that’s a philosophy that transcends fashion in so many wonderful ways.
FGS: Where can folks find your clothing?
JV: I have a few garments listed on Etsy, I stock garments locally at a vintage store in my neighborhood, Lost and Found, and I am able to create custom garments. You can see examples of my dress designs on my website, Lollycopter.com.