By Karen Rempel | Fashion Editor
Engineered by Andrea T is the design studio of transformation artist Andrea Thurlow, a bespoke tailor with a flair for the dramatic. She designs evening wear, day wear, and Broadway costumes with a personal aesthetic using top-quality natural fabrics and an engineer’s precision methodology.
My favorite piece by Andrea T is a dress that she created from an abstract painting by New York artist James Kerr. The genesis of the idea came at a West Village dinner party when she saw Kerr’s painting Dominion Day. She thought, “OMG, look at this pattern!” She said, “That would be fantastic! It would lend itself to a fabric print so amazingly well.” James said, “I’ve been thinking the same. I’ve always wanted to do something with this painting.”
They kicked the idea around for a while. About six months later, the impetus came to actualize the inspiration. Alexandre Gallery on Fifth Avenue was holding a one-day exhibit for James’s 60th birthday. Andrea thought, “Okay, now I have to really get this fabric printed.” But all the commercial printers she found could only print onto polyester. Andrea said, “If I’m gonna make this dress, I want it to be a fabric that’s true to what I do. I like using natural fibers, wool, silk.” Then she found a textile printing company called Dyenamix Inc., operated by Raylene Marasco, that specializes in digital textile printing. Andrea was able to print the painting onto a wool-silk blend, which has a lovely sheen to it. With the fabric on the way, the race was on to create a dress in time for the exhibition.
Andrea had five days from when she started cutting the pattern until the exhibition. She recalls thinking about the shape of the dress. “Initially I had it much narrower, but then I thought, no, it has to be more; it’s going to be in a room, it’s going to have a painting next to it, it needs to have presence.” She created an architectural curving shape that would display the print to full advantage. She angled the seams to confuse the eye and disguise where the print starts and finishes. She explained, “Since it’s based on the painting, every inch of the fabric is different, so you can’t match it at the seams. It’s impossible. Of the three yards I had, not one spot of it is the same!” The result was a work of art that equals its original inspiration.
Andrea’s clientele includes Broadway performers, priests, and Pride celebrants. Last month, Broadway performer Ann Kittredge wore an Engineered by Andrea T dress to the Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall. Andrea created a red satin drag costume for a friend for Pride festivities and a sexy pinstriped navy blue robe for a priest to wear while officiating at weddings. She also created the Joan Crawford dress for Dorothy Bishop to wear in Mommie Dearest: The Musical for a one-time June 10th performance at Birdland based on the 40th anniversary edition of Christina Crawford’s memoir. I personally feel transformed from pedestrian to princess when I wear Andrea’s creations.
147 West 35th Street, Suite 1203
(By appointment only) 646 776 3230