On some occasions shopping the high street can play a tune on a broken record where colour palettes, fabric and silhouettes are all synonymous among retailers. Devonrae Jones offers a custom made service where ‘“elevated basics align with the cultured woman’s wardrobe”. Her clothes are all designed and made by herself in New York and offer an alternative between mass produced and high end clothing
How did you get into making clothes?
I think my interest in making clothes started from adolescence. My mother was fairly young when she had me and still an active woman in the workforce. Born in the 90s, this meant a daily array of brightly coloured suits, shoulder pads included. Watching her prance around first sparked my interest. From there I began drawing outfits in my composition notebooks, matching a collar pattern to the cuff of a pant. It was pretty funny stuff. The first time I ever attempted to make something was at the age of 12. I used my grandmother’s portable sewing machine and sewed a straight line down a swath of fabric. It came out terribly… I guess you could say I got into it by simply getting in it. I never really let skill set get in the way of doing.
What are your favourite types of fabric to use and why?
I love cotton for its versatility and ancient-ness. I love silk for its dreaminess and again, the ancient uses. I feel a connection with artisans past whenever I use either fabric. I have recently got into going to the fabric store and simply having fun with fabrication. I love asking the men who work at a favourite fabric spot of mine, what something is and how I can use it. Sometimes I ignore what they say completely and use it in some strange way. For example I love using stiff fabrics, like heavy weight embroidery for tops.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I really try to pull inspiration from everything and at the same time I try to ignore (as much as I possibly can) atypical inspirations. By that I mean, a fashion designer, looking at tops to pull inspiration for making a top. I love looking to my surroundings. NYC is one of the most inspiring places simply for the divide in “beauty”. For example I can find some expensive brownstone and a pile of blue plastic trash bags to be beautiful but never one without the other. I enjoy the yin/yang and feel that will always be relevant in my work. Something can never be simply luxurious; it has to feel raw as well.
What kinds of textiles do you admire?
I really admire embroidery, weaving, pleating. Pretty much anything that requires an extensive amount of time. It is such a dead art and it’s a damn shame! I think that is why there is such a visceral response to those fabrics. You cannot help but feel a connection to the hand. I also like the quality of raw textiles, i.e, silk, canvas.
What cultures inspire you and your work?
To be frank although I do find cultural influence to be inspiring, I also feel culture is part of everything at all times. I think to focus on one specific culture is limiting to how much culture is a linked experience. I feel if more people understood this fact, there would be less cultural appropriation. There is nothing to appropriate, they are we and we are they.
Which designers do you really admire? I’m Dries Van Noten obsessed because he articulates textiles in a very luxurious way but manages to make his clothes look humble and easily wearable.
I love Dries as well! The textiles are always incredibly inspiring. My designer lust ranges from smaller brands to the more corporate. However, I have a very fond place in my heart for smaller designers simply because it means someone is doing more with less. It is easy to create 60 looks when you have millions of dollars backing you. However creating 10 looks in all cotton, somehow feels more relevant to me. I love TIGRA TIGRA, her design eye is quite inspiring to me and she is employing women from all over the world as part of her business strategy.
I also love the scarf line Linea Germania. A truly inspiring woman, designer Mengly Hernandez, runs it. Not only is she totally in love with design/art (and it’s apparent in the design), she loves the act of creating. It is not very often that you come across people in the design world that want to create with their own hands that still want to play. She is inspiring to me for her never-ending desire to do so.
Photo by Pablo Latorre from Vogue Runway
Besides clothes what else would you like to make?
I would like to make shoes. It has always been a dream of mine. I am thinking this will happen very soon! Stay tuned.