Stef Cherico is a proud member of this new generation of designers who are extremely creative in their use of materials and less concerned with appearing messy or conforming to a norm. Her goal as a designer is to create from the heart. She emulates the McQueen mindset; a punk rock kid who just wants to express herself through fashion without worrying about the established constructs of perfection the industry has embodied for so long.
“McQueen was an addict of fashion who was just this person creating. He came from humble roots and built himself up,” she says.
During her second year at SCAD, Cherico learned a lot about sustainability. She realized that she couldn’t continue her craft without thinking about the origins of her fabrics and dyes, and how fast fashion was affecting the environment.
“I was coming to this realization at a very pivotal time because all of these large companies were presenting at SCAD. They were offering us internships and I had to say no.”
Christopher Raeburn, an eco-friendly runway designer is someone Cherico studied in her sustainable fashion class. She likes how he constructs garments from old parachutes he finds at army bases. The insides of his parkas are stuffed with recycled plastic bottle fabric. Raeburn also uses prints from original 1950's Royal Air Force maps for his jackets, hats and dresses.
Cherico gets a lot of her materials like organic cotton and voile from dead stock companies via Etsy and fabric.com. Dead stock is a term "used to describe merchandise that was never sold to or used by consumers before being removed from sale." For this collection, she employs French lace dead stock from the 1940’s which was donated to SCAD by Vera Wang.
She also utilizes up-cycled materials by partnering with Perry Rubber, a local bicycle shop. They gave Cherico old tire tubes which she cut into strips to create a fringe-like texture for some of her pieces.
The strips of cut rubber are tied on a mesh and overlaid on top of one another. This fringe effect makes the rubber sparkle with its movement and is meant to incorporate a glamorous 1920’s vibe. The mesh, also an unusual fabric, is normally used to block plants from the sun.
The end result is a collection of relaxed silhouettes, that recycles current materials but embodies a life before technology. "I want my work to reflect a time when people got together and enjoyed each others company," she says. Cherico imagines people from different eras such as Ancient Greeks and Egyptians in her clothes. She borrows shapes from the 1920’s where fabric is folded and draped on the body in simple but beautiful ways.
Cherico also channels concepts from the late 60’s/early 70’s, which is a favorite time period for her in fashion as well as music. An example of this influence is the kaftan over a body suit she created while listening to The Kinks.
“The music from the 60’s and 70’s has always been an inspiration for me. It happens when I’m working on a garment. Feelings sprinkle out into my work subconsciously.”
For inspiration, Cherico often views illustrations by Shaun Beaudry, whom she met at SCAD. His work has a textural, earthly feel and the browns are made by using coffee stains. Beaudry also uses ink and metallics.
Cherico was pleasantly surprised when she tried on her mesh hooded dress. The dress' rubber elements look like leather. As she was sewing it she thought, “Why am I making this Grim Reaper Halloween costume?” However, as soon as she put it on, it transformed into this glamorous garment. “I turned into McQueen’s ghost.”
Her kaftan and body suit were recently featured in the SCAD Fashion and Accessory Design Static Show at the Gutstein Gallery. See more of her work at behance.net/stefcherico.