After working together on The Kitchen Project, Angie Mosier becomes a longtime friend and collaborator. From collecting the first oral histories and recipes together, Angie and Natalie will collaborate on later projects including the Alabama Adventure Weekends, Workshops, the Alabama Studio Style book, Heath Ceramics Collaboration photography, numerous presentations including the Ceremony exhibition, Love and Happiness, The Factory Café, and Friends of the Café dinner series, Project Threadways, and share countless adventures and travels in the following years. (Look for entries coming soon to learn more about these projects).
The conversation below between Angie and Kimry Blackwelder was conducted via email in July of 2021.
Kimry Blackwelder: What is your earliest memory of Natalie and/or Alabama Chanin?
Angie Mosier: I met Natalie Chanin in the early 2000s through photographer Robert Rausch. He took me to visit her then home and studio at the ”Crossroads” when her label was Project Alabama. She and I immediately bonded, and the three of us schemed how to work together. “The Kitchen Project” was a lookbook that Robert was designing and shooting with Natalie that she would send to buyers. The result was a series of photos—of regular folks from around Alabama—in Natalie’s designs, cooking in their kitchens. The range of “models” was from children in a bread baking household to an elderly woman making jars of soup to put up for the year. In between were couples running a meat and three to Frank and Pardis Stitt of Highlands Bar and Grill. I helped produce and style the shoot (even though everything was so naturally beautiful that it needed no styling) and I collected the hand-written recipes for inclusion in the “lookbook cookbook”. Natalie and I have been friends ever since.
KB: How do you think Alabama Chanin has impacted and/or influenced sustainability in the industry over the past 20 years?
AM: Natalie was recycling t-shirts before she started her career and her love of quilting—a craft that is inherently “green”—was the jumping off point. Her understanding of the cost of doing business and that traditional fashion systems would not work for her helped her create an entirely new way of making a business that would work sustainably, aside from the actual materials and energy used to produce the designs. To say that she is a pioneer in slow fashion in America seems cliché but she truly is. Her ability to continue to evolve and shift with the changing tides in materials, labor trends, and consumer buying habits is what really makes her impactful and many, many people look to her for her innovation. She has one foot in the past—with a respect for what has been done and the other foot in outer space—that is how forward thinking she is.
KB: Do you have a favorite Alabama Chanin piece, collection, or collaboration? If so, why does this stand out to you?
AM: I have two pieces that are dear to me. The first piece that I purchased was at the “sample sale” at the Crossroads store. It is an exquisite ivory-toned, corset tank that I have worn hundreds of times in hundreds of ways. I can’t fit into it any longer and I’m tempted to frame it.
The other is a beaded tank dress that Natalie let me “borrow” when I needed to attend a black-tie James Beard Award ceremony at Lincoln Center in NYC. She sent me three looks to choose from (I felt like a movie star) and the one I chose made me feel so beautiful and comfortable the entire evening. I don’t enjoy dressing up, but this dress made me feel like me but with a lot of embellishment. I ended up putting it on “layaway” through a conversation and handshake with Natalie because I loved it so much and wanted to own it. It is truly one of my prized possessions.
KB: What do you feel is Alabama Chanin’s most enduring quality? We want to know what comes to mind first and what resonates with you?
AM: Alabama Chanin has the magic to inspire one to dream. Whether a maker, chef, designer or textile worker—the simplicity of the beginnings of the designs—rooted in the literal earth, turned into such beautiful garments and useful objects is the ultimate inspiration.
KB: As our industry evolves, what do you hope to see for the future? Where do you see Alabama Chanin in this vision?
AM: I’d love to see the industry and buying habits of consumers change as a whole so that more people can understand the hows and whys of manufacturing and why the question isn’t “why does it cost so much?” but rather “why is it worth so much?”
KB: Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to Natalie or the Alabama Chanin team?
AM: My love for Natalie and this company runs deep. I appreciate all of the difficult work you do to bring understanding, beauty, and style to my world.
Find The School of Making’s Angie’s Fall stencil, her namesake, here.
Read an entry on The Kitchen Project here.
Slide 1: Angie Mosier’s Corset, sprayed with the Angie’s Fall stencil, Alabama Chanin, photograph by Robert Rausch; Garlic during a Friends of the Café Brunch with chef and friend Lisa Donovan, 2015, photograph by Angie Mosier
Slide 2: Fitted Dress in Angie’s Fall relief appliqué, Alabama Chanin Fall/Winter 2010 Collection, 2010, photograph by Robert Rausch; Angie Mosier photographed wearing Project Alabama during creation of The Kitchen Project, 2005
Slide 5: Heath Ceramics dinnerware featuring the Etched Eyelet design from the Alabama Chanin and Heath Ceramics collaboration, 2015, photograph by Angie Mosier (read an entry about our the Heath Ceramics collaborations here)
Slide 6: Detail of Angie’s Fall in Burgundy with relief appliqué and backstitching Alabama Chanin Fall/Winter 2010 Collection; Angie Mosier’s Corset with embroidered Wood Grain, Project Alabama Spring Summer 2003 Collection, photograph by Robert Rausch
Slide 7: Angie Mosier teaching a pie-making and photography workshop led by Lisa Donovan and Angie Mosier at The Hambidge Center, 2018, photograph by Natalie Chanin