New York City-based Starr Hagenbring creates artful jackets and coat dresses out of luxurious silks. Her palette is a stunning collection of fabrics, pieced and exquisitely hand-painted, and free-form top-stiched, integrating playful dexterity and meticulous construction in each piece.
Excerpt from “Eclectic Elegance” by Jacqueline Ruyak
“It all comes down to beauty and fun,” says Hagenbring. The multifaceted New York artist with a gale-force-energy level stands in her compact midtown apartment, which is chockablock with books, paintings, antique furniture, spirit dolls, starfish, and other detritus of an artistic life. A sewing form stands by the window, bottles of paint line a work corner, colorful threads and fabrics dominate the tidy lofty studio.
A native of Chicago, Hagenbring became a “theatre junkie” in high school, winning honors for her costumes and set designs. She majored in design at the University of Kansas, then moved to New York where she did costume and set design off-off-off-off-Broadway. It was the early 1980s and rents were still reasonable. She opened a shop in Soho, making and selling elaborately hand-painted and -beaded jackets and gowns.
“I get really turned on by colors,” says Hagenbring, “and by textures and by painting. After years of searching for the perfect medium, this is as perfect as it gets.” Doing it on her own terms is critical. “You can’t work as many hours as I do and not enjoy it – or you would go mad.” Working as she does for someone else is also impossible to imagine. “Art is a personal thing. It’s an extension of myself. It’s a pleasure to work this many hours. It’s a joyful experience.”