In addition to her hats, Leigh Magar is now meshing art and fashion with her Madame Magar line of frocks. Her latest collection is on exhibit at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia.
At the 701 Center for Contemporary Art, the new Madame Magar collection of muslin and canvas frocks hangs on pulleys and hooks. As part of the exhibit, Charleston-based designer Leigh Magar has created a temporary studio workshop within the gallery space so visitors can see her sewing, dyeing, and adding penciled lettering to the dresses.
Visitors to the exhibit can see Magar’s process for creating the rust-dyed effect with broken railroad spikes and other bits of metal refuse found around the train tracks near the Columbia mill site. She painted dots by hand onto fabric and on a wall at the gallery.
Blue is a favorite color of Magar’s, so she recently learned the South Carolina-born indigo-dyeing process and put it to use in the collection. As a nod to the friendly spirits she’s sensed in the historic building, she mixed a custom paint color she calls “Olympia Mill Haint Blue.”
Some of the collection’s dresses are off-the-rack functional pieces in prints and solids (above), while others are more sculptural art creations: full-size frocks with rust or pencil-drawn markings over-dipped in starch to hold their form.