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The Art of Indigo Dye

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Turnbull & Asser’s James Fayed and Orlando Palacios of Worth & Worth discuss the journey of indigo, The Turnbull Townhouse and their upcoming exhibition. 

Indigo is one of a handful of blue dyes found in nature, and it’s surprising that it was ever discovered at all as the plants that yield it reveal no hint of the secret they hold. Unlike other botanical dyestuffs, which can be boiled or crushed to release its color, the creation of indigo requires a complex molecular process involving fermentation of the plant’s leaves. We had the pleasure of watching the Art of Indigo Dye unfold with artist and Worth & Worth Creative Director, Orlando Palacios and James Fayed, the owner of Turnbull & Asser. 

How did you both meet, and what led to Worth & Worth becoming part of the Turnbull Townhouse? 

James Fayed: I actually met Orlando through one of the head bartenders of Nobu in New York. What was his name? 
Orlando Palacios: Tyler? Yeah, we met through Tyler. 
JF: That’s right. I was at Nobu, and Tyler had told me about a gentleman who makes incredible hats across the street. So I went in and got a hat made. 
OP: That’s gotta be-wow. A good, eight years ago now I think?
JF: And then we reconnected in the Bespoken days when you did all the hats for a runway show that we were doing for New York Fashion Week. 
OP: Around the time is when we were looking for a new space, and we eventually moved into the Turnbull Townhouse, following a few conversations. Initially, on the third floor before moving to our current location on the sixth.


So from the point you joined the Townhouse, Orlando, how would you describe the synergy between Turnbull & Asser as a brand and Worth & Worth as a brand?

OP: James is a doer, you know? He’s tactical; he likes to work on things. Once I got in there, I wanted to make it my playhouse and showpiece. He saw the sweat I was putting into it and just all the architectural novelties if you will, and I think he just got it. 
JF: The relationship has organically grown in such an amazing way and even more with all the wonderful collaborations we’ve been doing. But I think that’s what’s so nice about it- it has been a very organic relationship. 
OP: That’s very true. 
JF: The synergy, too. Your customers are our customers and our customers are yours. It’s the foundation and what the townhouse is really based on. Having that synergy and being able to collaborate, like we are on this indigo project. I am very excited to see it flourish more. 


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On that note, how did this specific indigo collaboration come abou
t?

JF: I’ve always been a big wearer of indigo, but I never really knew too much about it until Orlando turned up at the Townhouse. He’s really taught me about what it is and how it works. It’s been an amazing process and I’ve been lucky enough to have Orlando be Sensei, and I’m Grasshopper! [laughs]

Orlando, what for you makes indigo so captivating? 

OP: The process. Starting from the seed, then fermenting, your hands are in it the whole time, and then it’s a live culture. That’s what’s really fascinating about it that people don’t know - it’s a live culture. You can feed it for years and it will become deeper and more vibrant. 
JF: From what I’ve gotten out of it from the times we’ve worked together on indigo, Orlando, is that every time is different. The way it ferments, you feel the heat. It’s alive and when you’re pulling products out, they come out fluorescent yellow!

Yellow?

JF: Yeah, and then the air hits it and it oxidizes and then it turns blue. It’s such an incredible organism. 
OP: Organism, absolutely. As it is organic, an organic medium, one day it will take a stronger note, another time it’ll be more of a wash. That’s what I find so fascinating about it. I read about some of the masters. Michelangelo as a matter of fact, and how he was using resin in his portraits to create a halo effect. How he had to do it, is he would brush it to reformulate, hundreds upon hundreds of brushes - and because of the way he diluted the resin, he could create the beautiful halo you see in his works. My thought was, how can I do this with indigo? And so I started to play with that notion instead of dipping, and why don’t I paint? How can I layer? How can I get that depth of field onto this textile? That’s what really pushes me as a creator; as an artist - if it’s exciting. Keeps me in it. Experimentation. 

These shibori techniques, how do you use these in conjunction with your hatmaking? Or is this more for your conceptional art pieces?

OP: They run together. James and I have created some amazing canvasses, just from working over them. It was his idea to lay the canvas on the ground. I would be dyeing the hats, dipping, experimenting, and James would say to me, do this over the top of a canvas and let’s see what comes from it. Organically, again, it just grew. People would see them, and would try and decipher how we did it. It became textiles, then hats, now it’s blossomed into everything from paintings to photographs and clothes. 

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It seems like the individuality of each piece makes it that much more special, which is really exciting.

OP: One of a kind! Absolutely. 

For the shirts, and the upcoming exhibition, is that process based on the same intuition and experimentation or is it more planned? 

JF:
Going back to it being an organic thing, the beauty of it is learning the process while you’re in the process. We’ve gotten to a point now where we’re quite good at being consistent. Each time, we’re noticing things and the technique of it, I hate to use the word, but we’re getting more professional. As of now, we have a selection of shirts, pocket squares-
OP: The ones that we over-dyed, because we did some ombre-ing and darker indigos, there were twelve of those and with the lyocell shirts, we did seven.
JF: It’s a very limited edition collection, and it’s again, learning from the process and we’re off to a good start. 
OP: Working together and developing our technique is what we really enjoy, we get a kick out of it and get into it. We get calls at one in the morning and both of our wives are calling and our hands are blue! And times we’ve come back home and our kids are so confused about why our hands are blue and why they don’t have blue hands!
JF: [Laughs] Right!

What excites you most about the upcoming exhibit?

JF: I’m very excited to see and gage how people react to what we’ve made. This is the first time we’ve done something up here, and it’s something that will definitely continue. 

It’s not exactly unchartered territory, but it’s definitely in that general direction…

JF: Absolutely. It’s a great opportunity for the Turnbull Townhouse as a brand, celebrating the creativity of it. 
OP: We’re doing this whole installation, it’s like Jeff Koons meets a scientific lab, I’m all about having those late nights of doing the installation work. To me, it’s the process. The end result is the end result, but the process? that’s where you get it. that’s where you learn. 

What’s great is that there’s no real finish line, is there? There’s always going to be iterations on iterations, and new techniques and new ways to do things. 

JF: That’s it. Exactly. We’ve just scratched the surface. 
OP: Absolutely, James. There’s definitely more to come, and we’re very excited about it. 

Experience, learn and enjoy the wonders of indigo dyeing at the upcoming INDIKON exhibit from June 13th to June 30th at the Turnbull Townhouse.
One of a kind pieces are available in limited editions. 

Join us next week to the opening Party
June 13th from 6-9 pm 
Turnbull Townhouse - 50 east 57 street NY
7th floor 

RSVP HERE 

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New Flagship store behind-the-scenes interview

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Take a peek inside the folly and get to know the creator a little better, with a behind-the-scenes interview on the genesis of the new Worth & Worth brick and mortar, and hopefully a little of the madness will rub off on you…

There’s a Master Hatter inconspicuously crafting his own special brew of magic smack-dab in the middle of the world’s largest central business and media district. 

The newly relocated Worth & Worth flagship store and atelier can be found at Madison and 57th Street, on the Sixth floor of a tony midtown townhouse that encapsulates only privately held and bespoke luxury brands, a feat that exists nowhere else in New York City. The newly imagined space, based on the dramatic vision of Orlando Palacios, complete with private elevator lift into the Atelier — steam and smell from the 19th century hat presses filling the hat floor — feels like stepping through the wardrobe and into another world…

Orlando Palacios presents an aesthetic both wild and refined, his artistic inclinations constantly firing at rapid speeds to create something unique and beautiful. His vision for the store was achieved with the help of architect and old friend Charles Matz, who has always identified with Orlando’s sense of theatricality and playfulness

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A conversation between Orlando Palacios, the artist and maker, and Charles Matz, the architect that helped him achieve his vision for the new Worth & Worth flagship store and atelier.

How did the two of you meet?

 Charles Matz: In Manhattan there was a community of artists — at 601 West 26th St. there used to be spaces dedicated to shops — he was sculpting, I was ensconced in building manufacturing. It was quite a tight-knit community. He was living on 37th St. and I was down on Lafayette. We met in the middle!

Orlando Palacios: I have a deep background in manufacturing and Charlie was building these incredible sculptures at the time. We had a sense of humor and could easily bounce ideas off each other. Everyone in our group of artists was just a little off, but that’s what kept it going. But Charlie and I both understood that when it came to business, it didn’t matter what we looked like, we’d nail it.

 What drew you to each other?

Orlando Palacios: Like-mindedness. We were kids playing — we had the whole of New York as our playground. It was such a collaboration, we’d all build together, true camaraderie. I think that’s lost now, disciplines have become so filtered.

Charles Matz: A sense of entrepreneurship and the ability to work across a variety of mediums, from woods to metals. A sense of history, a sense of narrative, and a lot of playfulness! We’ve always worked with folks at the top of their field, and even though we both own our own companies we’re not afraid to get on the table saw or help someone else work on an edgier project.

How does your work reflect your values?

Orlando Palacios: It’s important to see the hand of the maker. It’s part of what I do with my hats. When you pick one up, you feel the sweat and love that has been put into it — it’s not something that’s just stamped out.

Charles Matz: We’re very interested in craft, the way things are made, and achieving the highest possible class — in terms of the material, finish, and intention. On one end you have highly-finished machine components, digital and 3D manufacturing, and on the other end you have carefully handmade things. We’re interested in a story, a narrative — the idea is to show the softness, the irregularities, to show the pattern of process; how everything is made.

How did that influence the new store?

Charles Matz: We both felt strongly about reinventing the experience people have on the floor, creating dynamics that allow for participation on a higher level. There are a lot of things in place that work really well for the experience of people choosing something as personal as a hat. The centerpiece is something that could never be machined. The shape is clearly the crown, the top part of a hat abstracted. It represents a tornado — as it spirals up, the hats go with it. The idea was to give physicality to Orlando’s energy — as an author, as an artist, as a craftsperson.

Orlando Palacios: El viento!

Charles Matz: El viento is what we’ve been calling it, the nickname means wind in Spanish. The structure keeps the shop open — we had a lot of conversations about not having people’s backs turned towards each other. On the street there’s a social agenda, everyone’s always looking down or looking away. We wanted to make a space using the hats so people could make connections. It’s much more experiential than stuff lining the walls.

Orlando Palacios: This side of fifth avenue recognizes and has an understanding of fine art. We’re able to bring in our madness and keep our spirit through subtle references a cross-section of people would appreciate. A conversation we had was about when a seller goes away — you saw that customers would interact, and sometimes end up selling to each other.

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What makes someone want to buy a hat today?

Charles Matz: Maintaining an energy, in a way that multiple tiers of clientele can understand. Also give it some theatricality. There’s theater in wearing hats and putting on edgy clothes. Right now the higher-end brands are tending to make more homogeneous their stocks, and what we do is in direct counter to that, really. We both love music and the energy that comes out of performance — the confidence, the theatricality. We have huge passion for music and the kind of journey it can take you on, in the sense that it can put you in another world, suspend belief.

Orlando Palacios: Individuality. You can trace fashion all the way back to when humans first needed clothing, but hats remain a discretionary element in the modern age. A hat today reflects the true essence of its wearer far more than a pair of trousers, shoes, or a tailored jacket. To wear a hat gives a genuine statement of character and personality in our time.

What keeps you grounded?

Charles Matz: We have a lot of fun improvising together. A lot of people get very cynical — Orlando has never exhibited that cynicism.

Orlando Palacios: We trust each other. I don’t care who you speak to, all artists across the board have confidence issues, we second guess ourselves. Charlie, helps me keep fresh eyes — he throws me a direction, a verse, and I can keep the tune. And we can handle pressure like nobody! We have our experience, our surety.

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WORTH & WORTH BY ORLANDO PALACIOS 

New Flagship store and atelier 
50 EAST 57 STREET 
6TH FLOOR 
(between Madison and Park Avenue)
NEW YORK, NY 10022
212 265 2887
www.hatshop.com

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Beauty in the Apocalypse

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A Reportage from Salton Sea, California
A place to go if you don’t want to be found.
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As we walk the bleached out world,
I shade her from the beating sun.
In a quiet world we stand out.
In the silence there is chaos.
And in chaos there is beauty.


Welcome to the Salton Sea, America’s Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland.

The Salton Sea, located in California, is a manmade lake that was created entirely by accident in the early 1900s. In the 1950s, it was the host to many beach side resorts, like Bombay Beach, that rivaled Palm Springs in popularity. Today, it’s a post-apocalyptic wasteland, home to around 300 people.

The lake is almost entirely landlocked, meaning that very little new water enters the lake and almost no water exits. The heavy traffic on the lake in the 1950s caused a good deal of pollution that had nowhere to go. The pollution combined with the lake’s increasing salinity caused the Salton Sea to die, quickly. The bodies of dead fish washed up on shore, sending the families who settled there for the picturesque beach life running. Now, the beaches are no longer sand, but rather the bleached bones of those fish. Today, the Salton Sea is all but abandoned, with empty homes filled with the belongings of previous owners who left in a hurry.


With Sophie Caby and Photography by Antony Langdon

Click here to shop our Worth & Worth Navy Bolero hat.
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The collective #WorthandWorth crew it all starts with you. There is no “I” in Team. Thank you for being part of the family so proud of what you have achieved @koolrina @edisoncho @al3xinwond3rland @kliquepop @daye_song @cathypetignat #Marbella and my love and partner @shirpalacios #WorthandWorth #team

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