About Sonia

Sonia Working on BallgownI have been an apparel designer for over 25 years and an artist my whole life. In both I’ve worked a great deal with form (particularly the human body) and function, and re-utilizing materials with built in patinas or inherent characteristics.

I enjoy building and problem solving and working 3 dimensionally. Oddly enough, I utilize a lot of the same methods of construction in both my artwork and my clothing.

For quite a while, as an artist, I was building life size wire armature figures by using actual body measurements (which I quite often modified) and then hand draping mesh over the panels, following the lines of the armature wires to form seams, and hand stitching the panels together with wire.

It’s a modified version of the same technique I use in draping and tailoring my garments; only there, the form already exists. I work with the body’s measurements, drape along the form, and use the lines of the body to dictate my seaming and stitch lines. And now, I get to build clothing—a piece at a time—and treat every item as a piece of art. For me, it’s a perfect blending of my two favorite disciplines.

About Urchin ReDesign
Urchin ReDesign happened organically, like the best things.

I had reached a time in my career professionally and personally where I just didn’t see where I wanted to go next. I had been working for the past 23 years as an apparel designer, mostly for very large corporations, and although I really enjoyed designing, and growing businesses, the corporate environment didn’t really suit me—I really had no desire to move up any type of corporate ladder. I had also been working and showing as an artist for many years. (I’m currently represented by the Butters Gallery in Portland Oregon.)

My master plan—in entering my art and design school, Otis Parsons—had been to train as an apparel designer and pursue that career for about 10 years, in which time I could save enough money to be able to pursue an art career without having to starve or even worse create some sort of commercial art I detested to do it. Then, with this funding, become a full time artist while still young enough to have the energy to do it.

Well…. apparel design is a slippery slope.

It’s fun, challenging, fast paced, and I got to travel a lot…. Sometimes too much…. and I found myself staying in that game much longer than I planned. So, just as I was beginning to research additional galleries and plan for my full time shift to art, Urchin was born out of a smattering of accessories I had been selling through a local boutique and the encouragement of the store’s owner to put in apparel, after she had seen some of my garments hanging on the walls at my studio.

Bridal was then born from girls buying my special occasion dresses for their wedding dresses, and asking if I could do pieces in more traditional bridal palettes, and inquiring if I would do special commissions. Focusing on higher end special occasion dresses and bridal afford me the opportunity to be able to build richness and complexity into the one of a kind designs I enjoy doing.

The name Urchin and Urchin ReDesign came into my mind immediately (its almost as if it was there already, just waiting) as I thought about what my line of one of a kind pieces would be called. Then I looked up the definition of Urchin…

Urchin/ noun: definition
1). A mischievious and often poor and raggedy clothed youngster, ie. street urchin.
2). In old theatre, urchin was a common name for an elf or fairy who took on a prickly appearance.
3). An olde English term for hedgehog. (although I don’t think that applies quite as much…but they are really cute)

Re-constructed Couture:
I refer to the style of design I do as re-constructed couture, as the draping tailoring and handwork are done in a traditional couture approach, while the finishes and materials are often raw, distressed, patinaed or re-worked/salvaged. I also hand wash, wrinkle, or tint/dye and deconstruct fabrics and embellishments to achieve different looks, palettes, or moods. I design and create accessories, jewelry, and clothing from a combination of new and reworked materials, and each and every piece is one of a kind.

All my clothing—even veils, headpieces and accessories—are designed and draped on tailoring forms, to insure that each drape, tuck, detail, and seam line is hitting the most advantageous part of the form. Most garments have built in support systems.

I work with a wide variety of body types for my custom pieces, while my off the rack one of a kind pieces generally range between a size 4 to 6 but can often be altered up or down from there.