Before she opened her own studio tucked between Birdie’s and Peggy Noland’s shop in the Crossroads, Hadley Clark was living and creating in Paris, where she was named Parsons Paris Designer of the Year in 2010. Now, the newlywed is creating pieces reflective of her life in Kansas City since she returned in 2011.
Did the way you designed or created change at all when you moved back to Kansas City?
Hadley Clark: My work is all autobiographical, so I’m always talking about myself. Even when I lived in Paris, I was still talking about my world. Ultimately, I don’t think of the garments as made in Kansas City or made in New York. I just think of them as made by me. They just happened to be in this room.
Do they represent different periods of your life?
HC: Yes. It’s interesting because I just got married. I found my husband in this space. He came in the first night I opened. When I first opened the store, everything was black and white and gray. It was very strict and stringent. Now things have just really blossomed and they’re colorful. There’s not judgment on them as far as like ‘this has to be fashion.’ It’s whatever feels right to me.
You don’t design things for seasons or for buyers. Has that been a challenge, or has it been more freeing?
HC: The thing I learned about fashion at the highest level is that that system of fashion doesn’t work for anybody. If it doesn’t work for Calvin Klein, why would it work for me? That system isn’t really interested in me anyway, so I don’t need to pretend. I want to make what I love first, and if people like it, that’s great.
What do you enjoy creating the most?
HC: Jackets are really big for me, and I just find these things out by making. My patience has grown, so some of these pieces take 60 hours to make, and I would rather spend that time doing something that I love and selling it for way less then what it’s worth than to spend two hours making something that’s way overpriced. I really love making the motorcycle jackets, and the new bomber jackets have been really fun.
Since January 2015, Clark has been creating garments from leftover materials other artists deemed unusable. The collages, as Johnson calls them, are a reflection of her fondness for an “undone” aesthetic.
“I’m really interested in things that look like they’re falling apart,” Clark says. “So I started collecting textiles that were trash to other people.”
The dresses, tops and jackets that Clark has created from the leftover textiles incorporate a mix of patterns and imagery that gives them a multi-dimensional look.
“I don’t like making the same thing over and over again, so this way with the textile, it’s always something new,” Clark says.