Chelsea Vaughn began making her own clothes at 10 years old. At 28, her years of experience have culminated in her Midge Line label that can be found at boutiques around the Portland area. Visiting Chelsea in the PSU costume shop surrounded by garments representing a long history of fashion, we talked about her influences.
Vaughn came of age in the ’80s when pegged pants and Izod shirts were topped with feathered mullets. It was her dislike of ’80s style that drove her to begin seriously creating her own.
“I was also finding vintage pieces at Goodwill that I loved,” she said, explaining that her first influences were the mod and ’50s aesthetics. “My design recently has been influenced by 1930s daywear,” she said, noting that she is fond of the style of that decade and the one that preceded it.
Looking at the sketches of her current line and her upcoming spring collection, one can certainly see the influence of the ’30s. Her lines are clean and simple and often embellished with playful touches, such as the kick pleats that peak out at the hems of her tulip skirts. However, this deep appreciation of vintage garments and early-to-mid-20th century aesthetics does not mean that Vaughn is not aware of current fashion trends.
“It’s hard not to be,” she said. “Timeliness is important. I mean, you can make really unique stuff but you will have a small market. I go by feel a lot and try to find a place within what’s going on.” This is accomplished through a process in which book research into past trends is blended with keen observation of the present.
Currently Vaughn is interested in knit fabrics and woven materials because this ensures that her designs can accommodate more body types. This is a refreshing idea, considering so many designers do not seem to care if anyone with more curves than a pencil can fit into their designs.
Another refreshing aspect of Vaughn’s work is the price. Considering that her garments are handmade (she works out of her home), $46 for a sweater rivals most large department stores. Add to that the fact that you won’t be supporting sweatshop labor, you will be supporting local boutiques, and most importantly you will walk away with a unique and beautiful garment. That is a slice of fashion heaven.