Every evening around 7 p.m. In Nashville time, Karen Elson shines on Instagram. “One song a day keeps the blues away”, types the redhead, before embarking on acoustic covers of jazz, rock n ‘roll and folk. The 41-year-old leans against custom wallpaper by artist Costanza Theodoli-Braschi and wears all sorts of stuff – a sadly late Deep End Club t-shirt that reads “GIVE A DAMN,” a black Victorian blouse vintage, a floral silk kimono.
It’s a high take on the quarantine style, of course, but in addition to Jenny Lewis designed shirts and ruffled silk tank tops, her everyday wardrobe also includes – not to mention Madonna – ‘the great equalizer’. , which isn’t actually COVID-19, but sweatpants.
Elson wears a lot of wool lately (see also: the Fendi show in February …) and for good reason: just before the world closed, she was on the podium of the prestigious International Woolmark Prize in London crowning its winners – Emily Bode and Richard Malone – before heading home to maybe, hopefully, please finish her third studio album.
Here’s what is going on in Elson’s mind this season, including nudity, transformation, and what happens when your sister keeps your clothes.
Wool sweatpants are saving me right now. You?
I refused to take mine out for about a year. I got them because I love wool and needed a casual uniform for going out and traveling. I knew they had to be wool because it’s a durable fabric, obviously, but also because it’s so comfortable. You really can’t beat a nice soft wool when you want to feel a little better about things.
Sweatpants are cool because no one borrows them. But when people take a woolen sweater, it starts to conform and stretch to their body …
Oh, like when your sister takes your sweater? Believe me, I know! But I think we have to accept this. One of my favorite things about the Woolmark Award finalists is that while they are obviously so sophisticated in their designs, they still twisted or warped a lot of the products they made, and I found that really interesting. , because that’s actually what gives life to a garment, right? And if we’re talking about durability, shouldn’t it be cool to see the way a garment has lived? Shouldn’t we let wool hold more stories than our own bodies? I love to see the wear and tear, honestly.
We just did an article on how people love the word ‘sustainable’, but that can’t happen without a change in the industry …
Right?! And there is a lot of secrecy in the industry about how things are made. I’m a huge fan of Richard Malone – I’m so happy he won the Woolmark Prize! – because he is not just a designer, he is kind of a historian. Today, he saw me in this Simone Rocha dress and he said, “Hey Karen, did you know that in the natural world, the black color does not exist? So, in order for us to dye a “real” black, we have to be very careful about what we use so that it is not a toxic chemical. ”
So you think small designers will have to drive the change?
No, I think everyone has to do it. We need a change at the industry level, and I honestly think we have no choice but to innovate and evolve as an industry… But for me, sustainable doesn’t mean only, can it biodegrade. It also means: “Are people treated ethically? Are they paid fairly? Are they healthy while they are working? I’m talking about the garment workers, of course, but I’m also talking about my industry. A fashion brand that wants to be sustainable must also consider models in this equation.
How? ‘Or’ What?
For example, a girl shouldn’t have to stay at a fitting until 2:00 a.m. and wake up to her show at 6:00 a.m. and start over, not get paid a lot, no one checking her mental or physical health, to condition that it fits in the clothes. It’s not viable for anyone… and I think we need to better educate anyone who interacts with role models on how to talk to young women. I can’t tell you how many times I would perform on a set in the 90s, can I? I was a teenager and someone was like, “Oh, I can’t wait to shoot you naked!” And then the same person was shouting at me because my butt was very big for the sample size pants. Are you kidding me? Do you know what kind of distorted ideas this creates in the minds of young women?
Do you think that would happen even now, even with the fear of being “denounced” on social media?
Oh sure. I still hear, every now and then, an echo that comes back to me like, “Oh, you shouldn’t be talking about being mistreated by people. It could affect your career. But if you want a lasting career, you have to keep yourself healthy. This includes speaking up when something is wrong. I think for things like sexual assault, you absolutely have to name the person. But for the little things, I prefer to say, “Hey, I would like to show a mirror to your behavior, and I would like you to look at it, and we can talk about what we see.” Whenever possible, being honest but kind is always the way to go. I really, really believe this is the way to create lasting change.
That and some woolen sweatpants.
Oh, and a giant wool sweater to go with them that you can wear everywhere!