Monday, June 07, 2010

I'm Berserk for Peach Berserk

I've not often wished I were someone else, but if I had a chance to slip into another person's skin, I would choose to inhabit the amazing, fabulous, and exuberant Kingi Carpenter, proprietess of the Toronto boutique, Peach Berserk. She is my hero!

Kingi, a former art student, sells one-of-a-kind and custom fashions made on the premises from silks and cottons she has screenprinted by hand with her own original, crazy, and delightful designs. She always says she got her inspiration for Peach Berserk when she visited Paris and looked everywhere for a dress that had Eiffel Towers printed on it. No Eiffel Tower dress was in evidence anywhere. Kingi thought that was just a shame and went home to Toronto and made her own fabric, "so no girl would have to go without Eiffel Towers on her dress again!"

From there, she used all sorts of other imagery — everything from flowers, to kitchen implements, to David Bowie — for her 100+ silkscreen designs, and more keep coming every year. Each and every one is sold in any color fabric and ink the customer chooses, and you're encouraged to mix and match freely, even on the same garment. For those who are decision-impaired and in a hurry, a selection of clothing off the rack is available. Peach Berserk is the go-to spot in Ontario for "out-there" prom dresses, and even does a great wedding clothes business as well.

I'm a fan of "outsider" fashion, and yeah, I love the reinterpreted Bettie Page look that's so popular among the roller girl/rockabilly crowd. But I love Kingi's unapologetic celebration of femininity in her clothing. There is no hard-edged irony or parody in her silhouettes. She even has a print called "I Enjoy Being A Girl." I love that she loves color and can't live without it. I love that she teaches others the fun art of silkscreening in monthly workshops right in the shop. I try to bring a little of her spirit to my own life and sewing, but don't quite make it. Speaking of which, I want to decide what to do with my own Eiffel Tower fabric!

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