With his latest project, Handle with Care, Dean Sidaway squashes the ridiculous old adage that “those who can’t, teach” and offers some wisdom for designers-to-be.
“I tend to do rather small collections,” says Pratt Institute professor Dean Sidaway, who, after years freelancing for other talents (Avshalom Gur, Ossie Clark and Clements Ribeiro among them) was keen to focus on his own vision. The first, created in 2009 was an eponymous collection of what he calls “editorial art accessories.” For the seven one-of-a-kind pieces, Sidaway focused on the shoulder, enlisting a glassblower and a carpenter to create shoulder plates.
At that time, Sidaway had also begun teaching at his alma mater, Central Saint Martins, where he would eventually rise to become a lead tutor. In 2011, he was poached by the Savannah College of Art and Design, followed by Pratt in New York. “London has always had a bit of a rebellious spirit,” says Sidaway of the city where he began his career, “but we also need to be commercially-minded in order to maintain a viable business,” he says, while citing Eckhaus Latta and Collina Strada among the most intriguing emerging talents. “At Pratt, we really try to encourage the notion of the “total look” and putting a personal stamp on one’s designs, whether that’s through customization or from the ground up with accessories. It really helps to push the entire vision of the collection.”
Of late, Sidaway has been busy outside the classroom as well, teaming up with Julianne Echezabal after the duo were contacted by Mindy Strauss in New Jersey, who was looking to donate a barn full of fabric from her parents’ shuttered upholstery business to a design school. Inspired by the seemingly endless yards silk jacquards and taffeta, Sidaway and Echezabal overdyed the fabrics of their choosing in black to create a unifying palette to create a thought-provoking collection that, in lieu of color instead explores unexpected proportions and layering. “Even though I’m trained in fashion and I teach fashion, a lot of what I do is more art-based,” says Sidaway. “So it was great to dive back into garment design.”
As for the title of the collection, “Handle with Care,” Sidaway says: “I think it’s just a nice notion in the current climate to look after things, whether that’s a garment or a person.”
Photography: Nate Bozeman