The conversation below between Billy Farrell and Kimry Blackwelder conducted via email in July of 2021. Thank you to Kimry and Billy for celebrating our long friendship and the 21 years of this work.
Kimry Blackwelder: What is your earliest memory of Natalie and/or Alabama Chanin?
Billy Farrell: I first met Natalie on Valentine’s Day 2003, when I was hired to photograph her Project Alabama fashion show at Bowlmor Lanes in New York City. If I could go back in time and shoot it all over again, I would. It was a blast.
KB: How do you think Alabama Chanin has impacted and/or influenced sustainability in the industry over the past 20 years?
BF: I’m no fashion historian but I am certain that Natalie was the first designer I had met, whose business was built around a thesis of using recycled fabrics and sourcing local labor to create her pieces. The latter of which really stood out to me as a genuine statement against some of the less savory trends within the fashion industry at the time...and still today...which of course is the continued push towards hyper-globalization and exploitation of cheap labor abroad.
KB: Do you have a favorite Alabama Chanin piece, collection, or collaboration? If so, why does this stand out to you?
BF: I still love this piece Natalie wore the night I met her. I had never seen that type of stitch work before.
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?
BF: Leading the way via a commitment to ethical labor practices and fabric sourcing.
KB: As our industry evolves, what do you hope to see for the future? Where do you see Alabama Chanin in this vision?
BF: Same answer: Leading the way and setting an example for the next generation of designers via a commitment to ethical labor practices and fabric sourcing.
KB: Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to Natalie or the Alabama Chanin team?
BF: You’ll always be one of my favorite PEOPLE, Natalie. Thank you for including Bethanie and I in this important milestone—hopefully you will meet her someday. TWENTY years, huh?! Wow. Bravo. Much love and respect.
Shop the Love Tee here.
Shop the Slip Dress.
Slide 1: Billy Farrell wearing the Love Tee, photographed by his wife, Bethanie Brady Farrell, on their farm, Nice Island, in Charlotte, Vermont
Slide 2: Maximilla, Ksenia, and Camila in Project Alabama for Prom Night show, photographed by Billy Farrell for Patrick McMullen; Bethanie Brady Farrell wearing the Slip Dress on her farm, Nice Island, in Charlotte, Vermont