by Invitation Only
Written by Jessica Hundley
Photography by Dikayl Rimmasch
There is fashion and there is art. And every once in a while there’s a designer who combines them, weaving straw into gold and turning the whole into something greater than the sum of its parts. Blaine Halvorson is one of those rare and exotic breeds, a hands-on creator dreaming up collections that are much more than clothes, shoes, and accessories. Instead, Halvorson’s line, the aptly named MadeWorn, is mood, memories, and ideas, distilled down to their essences and transformed into materials—thread and leather, flannel and canvas, cotton and metal. This is mel- ancholia and faded handwriting, heartache and callused palm, translated into wearable art.
MadeWorn features one of a kind, exquisitely crafted, beau- tifully worked pieces—hand-tooled shoes with a distinct patina of age and romance; vintage Rolexes hand carved and etched with delicate filigree; leather pants blowtorched and scrubbed with steel wool and massaged with alchemistic salves; pigskin bags tattooed with intricately detailed designs. Each piece undergoes a complex process that elevates it into artifact.
With MadeWorn, Halvorson has created modern pieces, soft at the edges and smartly tailored, that are simultaneously groundbreaking and nostalgic. These clothes bring to mind torn daguerreotypes of outlaws, yellow fields of dried wheat, paint- chipped clapboard, and the sweet, sharp scent of charred wood.
It makes sense, then, that MadeWorn’s new showrooms, hidden within the cheerful if mundane sprawl of LA’s Fairfax District, have to be experienced to be understood. Forget what you know about retail stores in white lofts with racks of samples and the obligatory fig tree placed in a sunny window. MadeWorn is a journey into the unknown, a step inside Halvorson’s vivid and defiant mind.
Beyond an iron gate, past a vintage, seafoam pickup truck, you’re into the outer limits; a murky twilight of glass-eyed taxidermy and chipped-face antique ventriloquist dummies— a kind of wonderland without Alice, Pandora’s box pried open, its contents arranged in a way to best shatter the psyche. This place is part history-museum diorama, part bawdy carny mid- way, and part childhood nightmare. There is darkness here, but underneath it is a clean and well-lighted place, tidy in its chaotic tableaux: deerskin-covered journals filled with the precise penmanship of a lonely nineteenth-century pioneer, apothecary vials culled from ghost-town pharmacies, a stuffed rottweiler perched on an ancient suede couch. There’s a glass case full of plastic meat, Belgian shop mannequins from the early 1900s sporting real human hair and teeth. And there are rooms within rooms, like the to-scale ramshackle cabin Halvorson built, using battered wood salvaged near the Montana ranch where he was born. Past dark corners and secret cabinets is the court- yard, landscaped in sun-blasted grass, as if you’ve stepped into the Wyeth painting Christina’s World.
Arranged among this is the spectacular MadeWorn line: shoes, shirts, and suits, expertly constructed and obsessively detailed, everything faded and flawed in the most lovely and heartbreaking of ways. Even the air comes custom, with the smell of campfire, molten metal, and smoked beef. And, of course, there is Halvorson himself, bearded, broad, wearing a leather apron, his hands covered in dye, soot, ink, or ash, whatever he happens to be working with that day.
MadeWorn is more than clothing; it’s a world Halvorson has manifested out of his mind that gives life to his line. Yes, there is an element of the utilitarian in the clothes. Yet these are also objects of desire, mystic totems and relics, not from a lost past or unknown future, but from Halvorson’s deeply personal present. In the end, MadeWorn, both the showroom and the collection, is not about looking back. It is about being here, now, and remembering what we might have forgotten—that nothing is truer than the touch of a human hand.
See more in At Large Magazine vol. 2