Natalie “Alabama” Chanin is owner and designer of the American couture line ALABAMA CHANIN and author of Alabama Stitch Book and Alabama Studio Style. Her designs for hand-sewn garments constructed using quilting and stitching techniques from the rural south have been lauded for both their beauty and sustainability. Made from 100% Certified Organic Cotton combined with up-cycled and re-purposed materials by artisans located near Natalie’s home in Florence, Alabama, her designs have earned accolades from peers as a finalist from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Fashion in 2005. In 2005 and 2009, Natalie was chosen as one of the Finalists for the CFDA/VOGUE Fashion Fund and her work is now on showcase in the 2010 Cooper Hewitt Global Triennial.
The fourth exhibition in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum’s National Design Triennial series in “Why Design Now?” is currently on view (through Jan. 9, 2011), and explores the work of designers addressing human and environmental problems across many fields of design from architecture and product design to fashion, graphics, new media and landscape design. The exhibition title asks the question “Why Design Now?” to examine why design thinking is an essential tool for solving some of today’s most urgent problems; what draws creative thinkers, makers and problem solvers to this crucial field of discovery; and why business leaders, policy makers, consumers and citizens should embrace design values. Key developments across design disciplines are presented through eight themes: energy, mobility, community, materials, prosperity, health, communication and simplicity.
Natalie’s designs are on display under the prosperity section; progressive designers and entrepreneurs are building engines of prosperity that enable local communities to use their own resources to create their own wealth, as well as to participate in the global economy. Natalie’s handmade designs are used as examples of slow design.
Natalie’s work in the fashion industry began in the year 1988 in the New York City fashion district working in the Junior Sportswear industry. From New York, Natalie moved to Europe in 1990 where she worked for ten years as a stylist and costume designer for film and photography.
However, Natalie’s life work began in the year 2000 with the invention of Project Alabama. Natalie returned to her home in Florence, Alabama to produce a collection of 200 one-of-a-kind, up-cycled t-shirts, along with the 22 minute documentary film “Stitch” – about old-time quilting circles in her community. Project Alabama grew quickly and became a full collection fashion company, added business partners, lost business partners, all the while earning respect from editors and stores around the world.
In the year 2006, Project Alabama ceased operations in the state of Alabama. Rather than choosing to outsource, Natalie made the decision to adhere to the original mission of Project Alabama and launched Alabama Chanin where she continues to create limited-edition, rendered-by-hand, jewelry, clothing, home furnishing and textiles using a mixture of organic and recycled materials with local talent.
To view Natalie Chanin’s full CFDA Member Profile please click here.