As Derby approaches the line between fashion and creative finery have plenty of room to blur. In Louisville Artist Cathy Ridge’s studio art and fashion blends perfectly into quirky skirts, sensuously soft scarves and vintage Haute Couture.
Ridge has worn many hats but none more entrancing than her current passion as a Louisville fiber artist and seamstress. “I have always loved sewing” ” Her craft studio, composed of kaleidoscopic palette of hand selected fabrics and up-cycled materials.
“I have always loved the quirky side of designing. I hunt and gather, pick and search, bargain and barter to find the most wonderful vintage cashmere sweaters. I draw inspiration from their rich colors and patterns. ”
Every piece of wearable art from Designs by Cathy Wade is 100 percent green and recycled from 100 percent cashmere reclaimed from discarded cashmere sweaters. Wade uses every piece of the sweaters, including the cuffs, turtlenecks, and sleeves to make skirts, blankets, brooches, headbands and more. There really is nothing that compares with the luxury and softness of cashmere.
Wade combines colors, textures and patterns like a painter with a palette. Her love of sewing and fashion, design and, tactile pleasure matched with a bit of creative whimsy is organic and natural. We met Downtown next to Crafts Gallery and Mercantile, a gallery and gift shop on South 4th street where she features much of her work. Wade has had many professions but none so fulfilling as the one she does full time now, whipping up textile art in her studio. She fearlessly combining colors and patterns and taking inspiration from the cashmere itself. “I’ve always loved cashmere cardigan sweaters,” she said. “I probably had one hundred at one time and wore a different one every day.”
Sewing each piece by hand, Wade turns a discarded item into something new and beautiful! No two lap throws are the same, and every brooch is a little different. Each piece taken carefully from select vintage fabrics. “I’m on ebay all the time, estate sales.” “Sometimes I see a piece of fabric and I can see so much in it. I can make so much from it.”
Wade’s work is something completely unique a kind of “fusion” that combines post-consumer clothing with new, up-cycled and vintage materials to create custom pieces. The result, she says, is a garments that is handcrafted, unique and visually distinct from any off-the-rack options out there. Every woman wants a dress that no one else has especially at Derby and her work is so perfectly Derby ready. Fun vintage equine and Kentucky themed skirts with pom tassels and exquisite infinity cashmere scarves. “I love what I do,” Cathy tells me all about her studio and making work for clients for Oaks and Derby. She makes custom work on commission but also sells work off the rack at several boutiques all over Downtown Louisville from KMAC to Block Party Handmade. “Sometimes I will be out and I will see one of my skirts and it’s kind of exciting” one of the benefits of being an artist that makes wearable art, the world is her gallery and fashion is her canvas and it suits her perfectly.
As a child, Wade started making doll clothes from fabric scraps. Learning to work with the leftovers gave her an appreciation and talent for seeing the hidden potential in items others cast aside. Transcendent from family quilts, combined colors and patterns Wade’s first official foray into fashion was to create patchwork from old denim to make skirts in college. Over time Cathy Wade developed her own sense of design and an obsession with cashmere her trademark atmospheric texture.