Grosse Pointe native Christina Liedtke is the founder of Christiana J. Paul, a luxury women’s fashion company based in New York City. She tells SEEN about her collection inspired by a Alexander Girard home in Grosse Pointe.
In a recent collection, I was inspired to merge architecture and fashion by leveraging the breathtaking beauty of a house designed by Alexander Girard from her hometown in Grosse Pointe. The collection titled “A Whispered Drama” is a poignant and relevant amalgamation of Girard’s architecture, including the influences of midcentury design colleague Minoru Yamasaki and of recent contributors to the house, including Detroit design icon Ruth Adler Schnee.
Merging Girard’s vibrant, colorful and geometric patterns with the expressions of humanism found in Yamasaki’s whimsical and minimalist architectural designs, the collection’s purpose was to balance modern minimalism with spontaneity. The collection incorporates specific design elements of the exterior, interiors and accents of the house. These elements come together to bridge architecture and interior design into an authentic, timeliness and romantic fashion collection.
Each piece has three distinguished foundational applications to bring to life the architectural relevance:
Patchwork: Each garment was designed in a patchwork style to represent an architectural blue print or floor plan which was considered the foundation of each design. This patchwork style demanded several layers of materials to be placed on top of each other to create the pattern, design and weight of each garment.
Colors: The collection’s colors were inspired by the color accents and natural shades in and around the home. Specifically, the boldly colored glazed brick accent walls from Eero Saarinen’s General Motors Technical Center are used as either the primary or secondary colors and vice versa for the shades of ivory and grey.
Geometric Patterns: Each garment of the collection is inspired by the various geometric angles experienced throughout the house. From 45-, 90- and 180-degree angles to various geometric shapes, the garments capture the uniqueness of these design elements reflected in the interiors.
Staying true to my custom couture expertise, the collection includes a couture gown titled the “Alexander” gown that is inspired by Alexander Girard’s 1971 Love Heart made out of 4,652 hand-cut hearts, 25-plus yards of silk organza and 350 man hours.
The Alexander Girard home that inspired my collection not only had a profound effect on my use of color and geometric shapes in fashion, but also a book written by Deborah Lubera Kawsky (the homeowner’s sister) with a foreword by Ruth Adler Schnee rediscovering the only surviving house designed entirely by Girard.
While much has been written about Girard’s vibrantly colored and patterned textiles for Herman Miller, the story of his Detroit period (1937-53) — encompassing interior and industrial design, exhibition curation and residential architecture — has not been told. “Alexander Girard, Architect” is the first comprehensive study of Girard’s exceptional architectural projects.
The book will be launched at a special event 6-8 p.m. June 13 at the Detroit Institute of Arts Kresge Court, The “Alexander” gown will also be on display at the book launch. The event is free and open to the public, Guests can register at eventbrite.com.
Starting her line in 2007 as a custom couture company known for high quality and craftsmanship, refined details, and timeless and iconic styles, Christiana J. Paul has grown to become a ready-to-wear line offering women an artistically curated portfolio of garments. To purchase one-of-a-kind garments inspired by the Girard house, contact Christina at firstname.lastname@example.org.