This week we meet the wonderful Miss Malaprop – Mallory – self-proclaimed indie craft enthusiast and creator of reconstructed clothing and accessories.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Mallory Whitfield, I’m currently 27 and live in New Orleans, Louisiana. I make recycled clothing & accessories (denim is my signature material to work with!), and I run a blog and online shop, both called Miss Malaprop. Both feature handmade and eco-friendly work by many artists, including my own work – I’m currently working my way towards a brick & mortar boutique for handmade goods here in New Orleans. I love making things, but more than that, I love sharing the work of talented artists with other people!
2. How did you come up with the name Miss Malaprop?
MissMalaprop is sort of a play on my name, Mallory. I joked that if I was a music DJ, I’d be DJ Malaprop. It’s also a nod to my literary and theatre geekdom. Mrs. Malaprop is a character in the 18th-century comedy of manners play, The Rivals. The term malapropism comes from this character, who was constantly mis-using similar sounding words, although Dogberry from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing was doing the same thing in a much earlier play. (I told you I’m a literary & theatre geek.)
3. How long have you been in business?
I started selling my handmade creations under a different name, dismantled designs, in 2004. I launched my Miss Malaprop blog in August 2006 (I’m planning to throw myself a 5-year blog birthday party this summer!), and my online store was created in March 2010.
4. Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?
A lot of times I let the materials be my guide. I got into sewing and making things because I hate throwing stuff away, especially clothes. So if a pair of my old jeans had holes in them, I wanted to find a way to salvage them. I’ve also done some work with more non-traditional materials, like my infamous FEMA blue tarp dress. (http://www.missmalaprop.com/2007/01/etsy-upcycle-recycling-contest/ ) With pieces like that, the materials really inform what I create with them, because sometimes there are only certain things you can do with them.
My personal style tends to be a lot of basics with pops of color. And by basics I mean black, grey, and denim. I don’t think I have any brown or tan in my wardrobe! I usually go for comfort above all else, so while I love heels, I usually try to find ones that are comfortable. (Hence why I own like 5 pairs of shoes by John Fluevog – they’re the most comfortable and funky brand ever!) I don’t really pay much attention to trends, magazines or what celebrities are wearing. I could really care less.
6. What are your favourite materials/techniques?
As I mentioned earlier, I LOVE denim. I love to wear it, and it’s also my favorite material to sew with. It’s sturdy and doesn’t really stretch, and I love working with it. I also have this sick habit of doing really time-intensive hand-sewing projects. I love really meticulous details – I did a piece for the Worn Again Recycled Fashion show a couple of years ago where I covered a piece of fabric the size of my torso entirely with hand-sewn sequins.
7. What does being creative mean to you?
It’s about being true to yourself, whatever that means. I wrote a guest post for Scoutie Girl recently (http://www.scoutiegirl.com/2011/03/copycat-creativity.html) basically talking about we all tend to draw inspiration from similar things, and that there’s really not much that is totally original. But that’s not always a bad thing – you may have inspirations and ideas that are similar to something that’s already been done, but it’s about putting your own spin on it, and infusing your personality into whatever you do, whether it’s what you make, what you wear, or how you cook. Having a common ground with other people can be good too – if you’re making products that are so out there no one can identify with them, you’re not going to have a market to sell to.
8. Can you describe the time when you first realised that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
In the summer of 2004 I was finishing up college and I did my last classes abroad, in London for a month. At the time, I was completing a major in history, thinking I would want to work in the museum field, maybe with historical costumes and clothing. I arranged a meeting with one of the curators at the Victoria & Albert Museum, which was great because she took me behind the scenes and talked about her experience getting into the field. At one point she mentioned something about sort of wishing she’d gone more into a design field though, rather than working with textiles in a museum setting. During the same trip, I kept finding myself drawn to the open air markets, particularly Portobello market, where there are so many talented artists selling their wares. The whole experience left me so inspired, and made me come home wanting to create. Just a couple of months later I set up to sell my handmade creations at my first ever local event, and the rest is history.
9. What’s your favourite thing that you’ve ever created?
The pieces I’ve done with more non-traditional materials have been my favorites, because they’ve been the most challenging. I’ve complained and even hurt myself a bit in the process, but I’m very proud of my blue tarp outfits, the pieces I made for the Worn Again Fashion Shows out of a bag of random unwanted clothes, and my recent Mardi Gras costume, a dress covered in stuffed animals.
10. What medium would you love to pursue but haven’t as yet?
I’ve been really in awe of glass work for a few years now… my friend Heather Macfarlane does beautiful fused glass pieces which I’m obsessed with (I think I have about 5 of her pendants), and I recently saw a glass exhibit at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art here in New Orleans by artist Richard Ritter that I was blown away by.
Thank you Mallory. I would love to see your designs up close and even be able to wear one!!
Want to check out more of Mallory’s work? You can find her online at the following places:
online shop: http://www.shopmissmalaprop.com
New Orleans Craft Mafia: http://www.neworleanscraftmafia.com/