Gary Sweeney is a fine artist, experimental filmmaker, humorist, veteran baggage handler, world traveler, and newly-frequent Current contributor. He’s also a great talker who uses text as a material central to his art. His inspired exhibition at Sala Diaz in November, Maybe If Your Metaphors Weren’t So Obvious, and his current one-man show, Humor & Pathos, at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, both use heavy matter and funny language. This all makes Sweeney a grand man to run into at a party where you don’t know many people, and a natural interviewer. Lately, he’s been sending in transcripts of interviews with fellow creative folk; artist-curator Hills Snyder, musician-producer Joe Reyes, and Artpace director Matthew Drutt have all submitted to Sweeney’s inquiries.
This edition’s subject: Angelina Mata, couturier, milliner, jewelry designer, costume designer, founder of boutique Euphorium, winner again and again of various “best local designer” polls, and artistic director for 2008’s Art of Fashion show. Mata styled several participants in last year’s Bling Bling Fling benefitting the Martinez Street Women’s Center; the day after, Sweeney Facebooked that she “made `women` look like film stars!” And now, she’s schooling Sweeney on some garment theory. We’d be sad if Sweeney gave up his tropical shirts, though. — Sarah Fisch
1. How would you define San Antonio’s fashion sense? Is there a San Antonio look? From my memory, there has always been a “San Antonio look.” It’s morphed over the years to look more high-fashion, but the ingredients are still the same: Cowboy boots now have higher heels, Western hats have rhinestones, and jackets have more fringe. And I still love the old staple: A Mexican blouse with a beautiful set of beads.
2. Do you remember the first time you thought you might want to design clothes? Yes, I’ll never forget. And then I decided I would make a bra out of white socks and safety pins.
3. Did you have a mentor when starting out? Yes, Horst Rechelbacher, the founder of Aveda. I was a stylist for 20 years before designing. He, along with my mother, encouraged me to explore my talent. My technique would come later.
4. What’s your definition of glamour? Understated.
5. Who is your inspiration? My three children.
6. It seems as if designers today just want to be celebrities, without learning the basics of design, or even how to sew. Do you find that to be true? Yes.
7. What one piece of advice would you give someone entering the fashion world? Know your trade.
8. What makes a quality article of clothing? The fabric, construction, and finish-out. Design is irrelevant; it’s constantly changing. Quality should be consistent.
9. When you’re designing an article of clothing, do ideas flow out of you, or do you struggle with making every piece original? If I haven’t made it before, then it’s original (to me). I believe originality comes with time, practice, and from being a little adventurous.
10. Do you have structured work habits? Yes: Coffee all day.
11. What do you wish people would understand about the world of fashion? I can’t give advice, because I don’t even understand it.
12. I know you as a softspoken, easy-going person. How do you survive in the high-pressure, cut-throat world of fashion? I carry a knife.
13. How accurate is the portrayal of the fashion industry on television? I’m thinking of both the reality shows, and shows such as Ugly Betty. I think it’s accurate; it’s entertaining.
14. If you could go back in time and be a fashion trendsetter, what time period would you choose? I often think about the ’20s. It was a turning point in the fashion world, and a liberating time for women.