Peggy Noland is a fashion designer based in Kansas City. She runs her own clothing shop. Many amazing musicians and artists would love to wear Peggy Noland in their performance. They know her clothing brings out so much more power and attractions. Let’s sit down with
this fascinating stylish bodysuit-maker who is one of the sweetest crazy girl ever.
First, please introduce yourself.
I’m Peggy Noland. An artist who is best known for my work with fiber – although my true passion is environments – me in them, and documenting the effect the have on what I make with my hands.
Tell me your latest hobby and favorite music, movie, book, magazine, website.
I’m currently researching ‘cute’ -and it’s history and marketability. The rules of cute – including: big, wide eyes, small mouth, fat arms, no neck. A large part of this study revolves around Tokyo/Japanese culture. The only music I’m allowed to listen too is SSION.
How did you become a designer?
The path I have found is completely unexpected. I had not intended on making clothing or owning a store. My major in college was religious studies, after an experience working in New Delhi for an extended period of time. I applied for the Peace Corps and didn’t get in (long story), and now I am here.
You are based in Kansas City. How do you like Kansas City?
Kansas city is a wonderful weird place to be. I stay focus and inspired here. A community that supports its artists is hard to find, and harder to leave. I try and travel extensively as part of my process, as it peeks my interest this smaller community of larger things happening. If you can get here, and if you can tap into this energy once you are here – you are looking for something unusual, and you will see an incredible ambition – perhaps spiraling from an angry, even jealous, boredom that attracts and demands attention. My peers here are jumping leaps and bounds at a time, and it is my opinion that we inspire each other. When you find yourself in a city who’s planned energy isn’t particularly invested in its youth culture you find your source of creativity is completely unique and perhaps more importantly – unaffected.
What is your latest project?
My projects today are circulating around an instillation base. I have remodeled the store to reflect a concept that you will see in the next seasons clothing. It is becoming increasingly important for me to surround myself with inspiration, something you sometimes have to provide yourself. Additionally, it attracts an audience that is inquisitive about the right things and current themes – the ‘how’ rather than the ‘why.’
How do people react to your designs?
Many think it’s a joke. And perhaps rightfully so. There is an element of humor that is unavoidable, but this runs deeper than sewing sleeves onto a shirt. It is a performance, an act; we are all filling roles whether we are dressing out of the norm, or in costume. Jeans and a T-shirt is a costume too, isn’t it? One that says, ‘I’m just like you’ a sequin bodysuit may say, ‘ I’m not like you’ whoever you wake up wanting to be, I suppose. My clothing seems to find it’s way onto people filling a role of entertaining or maybe dressing for other peoples enjoyment. Maybe it is a joke? Do I care about black? Color? Trends? Magazines? Notoriety? Are these things important? Is it important to take what you do seriously even if what you are doing isn’t serious? All of these questions seem to be reoccurring in what I do with my time. Or, is it as simple as what you put on that morning and take off at night?
I think it is pretty cool to show your design via real punk and rock artists. It matches your concept (I guess) Was it your purpose to show your design through artists?
The artists’ I have been lucky to work with want to be looked at. and I want people to look at my clothing. Actually it’s a pretty obvious path. Perhaps too easy. A very simple idea that benefits many. My collectors covet those pieces that these artists wear. Some want the exact pieces the performers wore – even more if it smells like sweat. The last collector I visited has the Lovefoxxx sequin piece framed. She described her experience with it as that of looking at a ‘painting that danced.’ However, it is only a replica. This particular piece has proven to be one that people own for a slice of imitation. Those who own a replica and those who knock it off are often performers themselves.
SSION is a band that dressing is a life all it it’s own. Designing for SSION is completely unique because you’re dressing an idea, a story, not a band. There is an element of math added to SSION clothing – each seam, each line, each curve is mathematically perfect.
The documentation that comes along with dressing artists an interesting part of what I experience as well. It’s like a growing travel log of your labor.
Who do you want to make costumes for next?
I don’t see my work as costumes, although I am not offended when they are described as such. That perception from an observer makes sense, and it takes us back to the idea of what role we like to fill in our every day lives. As I see it, it is an item that can be had. Just as a painting, a photograph, or experience. When it is reduced to this, I am inspired and challenged – the best way to describe it reminds me of a Tim Griffin letter – ‘…when it comes to art, there will always be those for whom the experience involves some aspect of possession and acquisition. ‘ This is where I am currently – However, he completes the idea that speaks to where I’d like to be.. ‘and for others for whom that experience is exclusively aesthetic or intellectual.’
Do you have a favorite Japanese artist?
I admire and influenced by many Japanese artists – I have been reading about Hiroshi Sugimoto lately – bad at math, wonderful at photographing it.
I was thrilled to be able to see the band, Kiiiiiii live while in Tokyo. It was an interesting dynamic of an energetic live show, and a seemingly typical ‘venue’ audience. In the US the audience participates in a live show of this caliber, and the bands come to expect it, or even rely on it. The audience is sometime a PART of the show. In Tokyo, I was caught off guard at the audience reaction to such an energetic presentation. Or perhaps, lack of reaction. Kiiiiiii are performance artists – incredibly imaginative and witty.
Thankfully, I experience an audience energy in the underground scene of parties. It was a more uninhibited crowd, and I felt I was experiencing the pulse of the city
When you were in Tokyo last year, what did you think about?
My Tokyo store. I need a store there. I need to be connected there. There are several storefronts and spaces I am interested in in Tokyo, and am open to suggestion. I feel there is great opportunity for me to participate and support a scene that has done the same for me. There is an energy in Tokyo that is unmistakable and crucial to my work. I am interested in collaborating there with people and themes that produce as much energy as my clothes do. To participate in Tokyo’s scene that has already been a support for me would be a dream come true. HELP ME OUT TOKYO!
What was your impression of Tokyo, in terms of fashion, before you actually came here.
If you are at all interested in a broader global fashion scene, or even street scene or nightlife’ – it’s impossible to ignore the blog world, and the effect it has on fashion. I was aware of Japanese fashion/lifestyle publications and blogs, such as The Fashion Ramone, etc. I am pleased to find that the blog world in Tokyo was not lying. What you see is what you get. There are unmatched fashion sub-cultures in Tokyo.
What is your plan for the future?
I have just accepted a teaching position at the Kansas City Art Institute. I am replacing a woman who has been teaching in the Fibers department for some time now – so I have big shoes to fill. However, I have been on a lecture circuit for the last year, and feel prepared to present my ideas in a classroom setting, as well as facilitate student’s ideas. In a classroom setting the ‘give and take’ is unique and exciting.
Also this year I am collaborating with a number of artists and collectives for the next season. One of particular interest is a capsule collection with Malcolm Stewart and Bec Stupac, called Peacock and Peggy. It is an expansion of personal work for all of us, with an emphasis on the unwearable wearable. The work is intentionally broad, but focused. The work confronts a medium that exists only between the three of us – an experience that I have coveted for some time now. It purveys our material/tangible work.
Peggy Noland Store
Address: 124 West 18th Street, Kansas City, MO 64108
Text: Naoko Wowsugi