People of Austin:
by Leigh Patterson
Photography by Nicole Mlakar
Miranda Bennett is taking a minute to breathe. Having moved to Austin in January after 12 years in New York, Bennett made the shift from co-owning a Brooklyn boutique and manufacturing her own ready-to-wear clothing line to working in Texas as a freelance stylist and designer of a line of billowy, hand-dyed silk scarves.
“New York is all about immediacy,” Bennett explains, on the transition she’s made this year, both professionally and in the sources of her creative influences. “There is so much going on around you at all times that is inspiring and stimulates your senses, so I found myself always focused on the ‘right now’ aspect of things…Austin has been more about taking a step back and slowing down a little, dreaming and planning more, being a bit more quiet, curious, and intentional.” Austin has also been the perfect location for Bennett to explore scarves, a new-to-her medium that’s been an organic extension of her experience. “I have always been drawn to fabric, and silk in particular,” she says. “Within my clothing line, there was always a large emphasis on the natural properties in the fabrics I worked with, like drape, weight, and movement. Extending that focus to scarves felt like a natural transition.” They have also allowed her to move from designing seasonally to working in series, driven by spontaneity and exploration. Or, as she puts it, pieces become “a chapter in the same book, departures from each other that evolve rather than being discarded.” Bennett’s work is available for sale on her website (shopmirandabennett.com); she will also be selling her work at the Feliz sale in Austin on November 3.
IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL ME WHAT YOU DO ALL DAY.
Bike to my studio where I spend most of the day painting and dyeing scarves, photographing new work for the online shop, researching new dye methods, answering emails, and taking little breaks for Instagram (@mirandabennettstudio), old art books, and my favorite blogs.
TELL ME ABOUT A REGRETTABLE PAST FASHION PHASE.
Hammer pants in the 2nd grade.
LIST SOME COLORS AND PATTERNS YOU ARE CURRENTLY DRAWN TO IN CREATING WORK.
I am really inspired by Cy Twombly’s blurred lines and lush drips of paint and the opaque, emphatic layers of color in Odilon Redon’s latter-day work. Also, Mark Rothko’s Color Field paintings have been massively inspiring. The series I am beginning now is inspired by abstract watercolor; I want this group to capture a playful, naïve approach to line and color.
DESCRIBE YOUR AESTHETIC IN FOUR WORDS.
Vivid, graphic, ethereal, current.
WHAT ARE PIECE WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO TURN INTO A TEXTILE?
The feather headdresses of the Navajo Indians.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO MAKE THAT YOU HAVEN’T YET?
I would love to try my hand at pottery. I have so many ideas for shapes and patterns, even the space where I would produce them (an adobe studio like Georgia O’Keefe’s beautiful stoic houses in the Southwest)—I just have to find the time, and the studio.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING YOU’VE READ IN THE LAST SIX MONTHS?
Le Corbusier: Atlas of Modern Landscapes, put out by the MoMA press to accompany his retrospective this summer. I had no idea what a quiet and sensitive painter he was; I found his sketches and paintings so inspiring.
WHAT MUSICIANS ARE YOU INTO RIGHT NOW?
I love Au Revoir Simone’s new album, “Move in Spectrums.” I feel such a personal connection to their music because we were neighbors years ago in Brooklyn and I used to give them pieces to perform in from my ready-to-wear collection. Annie and Erika also modeled for one of my lookbooks, shot entirely on 4 x 5 Polaroid film. That’s still one of my all-time favorite shoots.