Within the fashion industry, few people have a more discerning eye for “wearable art” than Joan “Lilly” Carney, a Carmel resident who has traveled extensively in search of the world’s top art-as-clothing artisans.
Her latest discovery, a Florida-based felt and silk artisan from Kyrgyzstan, happens to be one she is especially excited about.
“I have connected with what I think is the No. 1 felting artist in the world,” said Carney, who operates her own art-as-clothing boutique from her Carmel home. “(Felting) is a really hard process. I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as what this (artist) has.”
The artist is Galina Kostanda-Lambert. Her creations are handmade women’s clothing and accessories made of felt or silk. Her most recent pieces are a line of one-of-a-kind felt coats that can be worn four different ways.
Carney is selling the coats from her Carmel store, Lilly’s Wearable Art Studio, in a trunk show for Kostanda-Lambert, whose line also contains vests. Carney conducts similar events for other clothing artisans who can’t sell at shows because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carney agreed to conduct the trunk show for Kostanda-Lambert after traveling to Florida and watching her create a vest, a delicate, meticulous process that took about a week.
Coats take considerably longer. There are 40 in the trunk show collection, and no two are alike.
“It’s incredible the amount of work that goes into one coat,” Carney said. “She now has given me those pieces to sell, the four-way coats, which means every coat is a work of art on both sides, so it’s totally different. It’s all felt, and it’s all done with fibers of wool. All kind of work goes into it.
“It’s unbelievable work.”
Kostanda-Lambert draws inspiration from the natural world.
“Mother Nature inspires me to generate such exquisite, colorful and original pieces,” Kostanda-Lambert said. “I use a hand-friction technique, a process that includes only superb quality fibers and natural material adhered together with soap and water. I envision my clientele adorned in my soft and luxurious creations that accentuate their uniqueness, no matter their age, size, shape, or skin tone.”
Carney operated Lilly’s Boutique Gallery in Zionsville from 1992 until 2013. She opened a store last year in her home, where she sees customers by appointment only. She follows social distancing and face-covering guidelines when showing collections in her studio. Pricing is discussed during appointments.
So far, demand for Kostanda-Lambert’s coats has been high.
“They’re all different. They’re all one-of-a-kind,” said Carney, who has traveled the world in search of the most skilled artisans. “People come back, and they buy them again.”
Besides the Kostanda-Lambert coat collection, Carney sells other wearable art in her home studio, such as sweaters, scarves, vests, jackets, leggings and coats made by other artisans. She plans to present a wearable art fashion show Feb. 27 at the Columbia Club in downtown Indianapolis.
“My passion is to help artisans,” Carney said. “Every lady that buys something here wears something unique.”
To schedule an appointment or learn more about the fashion show, call 317-733-9061 or email [email protected].