November 15, 2011

5 Minutes With a Fabric Designer Part 3

...with the lovely ladies of Pillow and Maxfield!

Val is the Pillow, Anne is the Maxfield and it only took me three days of QM to keep that straight. I kept wanting to call them Valanne or Anneval just to be on the safe side. And I hope that doesn't sound apathetic because, on the contrary I'd have to say that of all the people I met at market, these were two of my favorite. They both exude a sincere warmth and infectious cheeriness that made me want to stick them in my pockets and take them home with me. I'd keep them in a cookie jar and call them Auntie Val and Auntie Anne and they would make pretty things for me. 
But, fortunately, I resisted the temptation and Mesdemoisselles Pillow and Maxfield remain free to create beauty for all. Such beauty as is found in their fabric collections: Whimsy, Pretty Bird, Gypsy Bandana, and the latest, Ooh La La!

Now I know I started this interview series committed ( in a non-committal sort of way) to not ask standard, generic questions like, "What is the inspiration for this line?" But I realized that sometimes, a question that people expect and are mentally prepared to answer is the best way to loosen their tongues and get 'em talking. (It definitely worked here). And it's a good way for me, as an interviewer, to get a better perspective on who they are as artists. Because, as my track record has shown, I typically went into these interviews knowing all or, more often, nothing.

So, here we go. 5 minutes (okay, technically we took more than 5, but there are two of them) with Pillow and Maxfield.

Me: Alright, I'm talking with Val Pillow and Anne Maxfield and your new line is called Ooh La La.

Both: (with fake French accents) Ooh La la!

Me: Hahaha! And it's a very happy line. Tell me about the inspiration behind this collection.

Val: That's kind of what our passion is- we like happy, bright colors,  with a little energy and a little touch of whimsy and then we also tried to do a line that's easy to coordinate. So that's kind of our...our mantra is Happy. And that's what we go after. And then we found as we were going along with this group that some of it had a little French Provincial look, so that's why we named it Ooh La La. And it comes in three colorways, Citrus and Spice and Sky, and we wanted to continue with something we started with our Gypsy Bandana line- we call them bandana squares, but you can actually do so much more with the squares. We have on our website six free, downloadable tutorials on everything you can do with the squares- everything from a little patio tablecloth to matching dinner's really easy to make a quilt out of it by alternating the squares...a tote bag, a little travel cosmetic bag, surfer shorts, a little pillowcase dress...

Me: Cute! And what a fun, easy way to make a quilt if you're not an advanced quilter too.

Val: And we've also continued with our border prints, which make great lounge pants... they just have the border on one end, so you can use the rest of the fabric however you want it...great for curtains, dust ruffles for beds, little girls' skirts or dresses... We try to make it fun and easy for the customer to use.

Me: I love it. And I love the Spice colorway...the Spice to me is, and I hope you take this as a compliment because to me it's a feels kind of vintage 70's and I love it.

Both: Thank you!

(Thanks, Fat Quarter Shop, for the image!)

Anne: We'll take that as a compliment! 

Me: Oh good! Some people think "70's?" (nose scrunched in negative connotation sort of way) But I love 70's.

Anne: We hear that a lot, and we hear...people think it's very 70's, but even the styles before that...ummm....

Me: Like, Boho?

Anne: Something like that.

Me: Well, as far as fashion goes, 70's is the big trend so, good job ladies!


Me: Okay, I wanted to ask you some questions you maybe don't get all the what is your favorite kind of ice cream?

Anne: I love that...Bunny Tracks stuff... is it Bunny Tracks? No- Moose Tracks. A little chocolate in it, a little peanut...that's the favorite.

Val: Well, I have several, but actually...this is boring...but vanilla bean because I like to pour a lot of chocolate on top of it and dress it up.

Me: That's what Sandi said too, she likes vanilla because you can dress it up.

Val: And I actually like the vanilla bean because it has a little extra oomph to it...

Me: Yeah. Super-vanilla flavor. Okay. Is there a collection that has come out by another designer that you wish you would have thought of?

Anne:Well...hmmm...they're all so cool,

Val: Nope.

Me: That's good. You're confident and comfortable in your own art.

Val: Yeah, we kinda got our own style going....

Anne: Yeah, we do and we love, love, love-

Val: And admire-

Anne: Yeah- many of the designers and we kinda see how everybody has their own thing
and there's something wonderful about that, but you know there are a couple of things that, walking around, I saw today and I thought- I'm ordering that fabric. I want that. But not really any that I wish we would have...I feel really proud that we were the ones that came out with the bandana squares...we kind of feel that that's a part of our signature thing. We're thrilled that we did it. So far it's gone really. really well.

Me: Good good good. Okay, last question. If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Val: That's a hard one...

Anne: I would go to the Island of Mystique.

Me: The Island of Mystique? I don't even know where that is.

Anne: I've been there once and I'd like to go back. It's way down by the Grenadines...

Me: Oookay (nodding as if I know where the Grenadines are)...

Anne: I went on bareboating sail trip there and I thought it was the coolest place I had ever been in my entire life and I am dying to go back. So...I'd be going to the Island of Mystique.

Me: Wow. It almost sounds made up. You know, magical.

Anne: Hahaha, yeah. It's where- and this has nothing to do with why I like it- I love it for the island people and it's so simple and tiny, but full of little castles and when we got there and stayed there for a couple of nights on our sailboat we found that is where Mick Jagger has a house, David Bowie has a house...Tommy Hilfiger has a house...when they were building it the construction workers just let us go it has fun things like that, but to me it's just a total paradise.

Me: Cool. Okay, and Val, where would you go?

Val: Well if this is a total relaxation vacation I'd want to go somewhere tropical too like Fiji or something like that, but actually I really want to go back to Paris because it's so inspiring and I love sitting in the little cafes and I find it so romantic. I've only been there once and it was only for -it was part of a European tour- we were only there for a day and a half and it was just enough of a I'd really like to go back. And, oh, the Paris Flea Market. Oh! I would want to do that. So if it was a vacation where I had energy to do stuff, I'd want to do that, but if not, tropical.

Me: Yeah, I only had three days in Paris and it wasn't enough.

Val: Just enough to tease you.

Me. Yup. Well thank you ladies!

Both: You're welcome! 

Val: Did we talk too much?

Me: Of course not.

Of course not, Anneval and Valanne. You can learn more about Pillow and Maxfield (and see all their fun free tutorials) by visiting their website:
The Ooh La La line of fabric is now available through Michael Miller Fabrics and if anyone knows where I can get a really big, comfy cookie jar, please drop me a line.


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