High schoolers get in style with fashion by our area designers
Photos by Ogden Gigli
Creative diversity abounds in the Berkshires, and apparel is as fresh a canvas as any. From her studio in Pittsfield, Crispina ffrench uses fragments of discarded clothing—mainly wool sweaters—as material for her clothing designs. Over the past two decades, she has become widely known as an environmental artist/cloth recycler working to reduce the global textile impact. Wendy Akroyd, founder of Artemesia Handmade in Dalton, has always loved making things. A background in both horticulture and garden design naturally led to using plants as dyestuff for her line of everyday pieces in natural fibers like linen and wool.
Elizabeth Powell has been obsessed with clothing and shoes since kindergarten, an affinity that led to a wholesale accessory business in New York City. Her love of all things local—defined as coming within an 80-mile radius of the Berkshires—serves as the foundation for her Lenox shop, LOCAL, featuring her original leather handbags and clothing. Newcomer Ruby Jones—at only 17—is symbolic of the possibility that ensues when one follows her passions in the Berkshires while daring to dream beyond the parameters that exist here.
Olivia Nda, 17, left, is a National Honors Society member who describes herself as goofy, compassionate, and intuitive. The Pittsfield High School student’s interests run the gamut from musician—she has been playing the violin since third grade and the viola since seventh—to athlete. She will be the captain of this year’s track team. Olivia is wearing linen overalls, $285, by Artemesia, artemesiamade.com; T-shirt by MOHO Designs of Great Barrington, $44; necklace by Stephanie Iverson of Lenox, $125; brass and silver earrings by Prasada from Pittsfield, $58; handmade leather tote by Elizabeth Powell, $220. All can be found at LOCAL in Lenox and their brands online. Bussolo Noely black leather moto boot, $150, Shooz in Lenox.
MaiLee Daignault, 17, first on the right, is infatuated with science and is a perfectionist when it comes to school work. When the BART Charter Public School student is not playing soccer, basketball, golf, or horseback riding, she is establishing a rapport with her community through volunteerism. A trip to Africa at age ten inspired her love of exotic animals; her college plans include aiming for a PhD in hopes of finding a career where she can help endangered animals. MaiLee is wearing a Hooded Fairy Coat made from 100 percent recycled sweaters, $375, by Crispina ffrench, crispina.com. Bussola
Tricia tall equestrian cognac leather boot with stretch elastic gusset, $170, Shooz in Lenox.
Shannon Finnegan, 17, right, is passionate about athletics and helping others. The Lee High School senior’s interests converge—on the soccer field and the basketball court—as both a player and coach to young kids. While she hopes to pursue athletics in college, she plans to study nursing in order to become a physician’s assistant or physical therapist. Shannon is wearing a Grey Linen Henley Dress by Artemesia, $265; Not-Mala Ebony and Silver necklace by Stephanie Iverson of Lenox, all at LOCAL and their brands online. Vaneli Glynis black nappa with suede, stack heel ankle boot, $185, Shooz in Lenox.
Ben Zoeller, 17, right, is at home on the stage. He appeared on Sesame Street as a kid, he wrote and directed a full-length play, The Curious End of Ezekiel Williams, last spring, and he spent the summer in a 37-show run of Music Man at Berkshire Theatre Group. The Monument Mountain high school senior’s college plans include pursuing acting—or musical theater—in NYC. He is wearing a T-shirt with leather trim by Ruby Jones. Shoes are his. The pants are by Skidmore College sophomore Evan Sanders, 19, who is from Hancock. They are made from two old pairs of pants. Evan’s emerging brand name is Yelluh, email@example.com.
Ruby Jones, 17, left, is no stranger to Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue; the Monument Mountain senior spent part of her summer studying at Parsons School of Design. While her interests are varied—she plays both clarinet and saxophone, and favors English and math over other subjects—she has an eye for fashion that she plans to pursue in college. She recently made this muslin striped shift dress at a Parsons summer intensive program. BeautiFeel Harriet black crocco print suede lace-up bootie with high heel, $395, Shooz in Lenox.
Olivia Nda’s college plans loosely revolve around following in the footsteps of several cousins and uncles who have studied in Boston. On her: Dark Grey Linen Wrap Dress by Artemesia, $265; necklace, flat faceted black garnet and pyrte, 35 inch, by Margo Morrisson. Dress available at LOCAL and Morrison’s jewelry available at LOCAL, the Clark, and online at margomorrison.com. Bussolo Noely black leather moto boot, $150, Shooz in Lenox. Hair and makeup for all models by Drew Christman at The Clip Shop in Pittsfield. On the set, Elizabeth Powell of LOCAL, lenoxlocal.com, assisted in styling the teen models.
Alex Aponte, 17, right, is a self-taught ukulele player who loves music, in particular Knuckle Puck, an American pop punk band hailing from the south suburbs of Chicago. The honors student at Pittsfield High School has a passion for animals—favoring the Siberian husky and wolves—and his favorite subject is science. Alex plans to study to become a vet tech in college. He is wearing a cotton flannel shirt by Artemesia, $165; MOHO
designs of Great Barrington (Molly and Aurel de St. Andre) Moon T-Shirt that glows in the dark, $35; Dai Ban of Great Barrington Skull Bracelets, ebony and silver, $58, all available at LOCAL, and MOHO sells at the Great Barrington Farmers Market, too. Shoes are his.
Naomi Brown, 17, right, attends Pittsfield High School where she has established a reputation as being kind and hard working, if not a bit sarcastic. When she is not busy working with kids at the YMCA, she is writing—sometimes opinion pieces hinging on politics and current events, more frequently poetry—for her blog. She plans to study journalism in college. She is wearing a blue wool blend and shirting Tunic by Elizabeth Powell, $210; earrings by Maia Leopo, $90; all available at LOCAL. Bussolo Noely black leather moto boot, $150, Shooz in Lenox.
Ruby Jones’s (belwo) Instagram feed reveals a passion for form—bold patterns, asymmetrical lines, and a slew of unconventional fabrics are hallmarks of the rising designer’s collection, one that aptly reflects her outgoing, chic, and edgy style. Jones sold her first garment when she was 13—a scant four years ago—when her love of art, bo
th drawing and painting, ultimately converged in a series of fashion sketches that became the basis for her Designs by Ruby, rubyjones.co. She was drawn to the sequined fabric. “After playing around with it a little bit, I decided that the most interesting thing I could do would be to make a jumpsuit. Then it took me about two days to make it.”
Each of these designers (below) is a unique thread; woven together, a richly textured fabric emerges. A sliver of our Berkshire diversity convergedupon the Pittsfield photo studio of Ogden Giglito featuring the wide-ranging fall styles of these four designers, from left: Crispina ffrench, Ruby Jones, Elizabeth Powell, and Wendy Akroyd.