USA Today interviewer: Why a poodle-skirt class?
Mary Beth Klatt (MBK): Well, you know the poodle-skirt is so quintessentially 1950s. You never really saw them before that time and you haven't really have seen them since except for small revivals here and there and for movie and TV show costumes. Even so there's this mystique and certain silliness to them. What's with all that fabric? You can only imagine what it was like to get in and out of an automobile without getting stuck in the door. It's kind of like your wedding over and over again without the pressure of getting everything just right on that special day. I just love how women personalized them - it's like the custom t-shirt today, but not quite so serious with this Big and Important Message.
USA Today: ....and the class?
MBK: Oh yes, the class. I actually got the idea from Faith Popcorn, of all people. I was looking for some helpful stories to give to my students in my Introduction to Fashion Business class at Columbia College. Popcorn has been forecasting doom and gloom for the next year, but the one thing she did predict is the return of the 1950s, 60s, even 70s with a vengeance. She also said that people would be looking for escapism. I thought, why not a workshop to mix the two? I'd been looking for a teaching opportunity, particularly since my Columbia gig was ending soon. Hence the poodle-skirt class.
USA Today: It's not your ordinary class either. Students are expected to dress up?
MBK: There's the escapism part. You know how people often say half the fun in life is getting ready? You know everyone has something vintage in their closet that they hardly wear. Now's the time to dig it out and put it on. Besides, Americans are so competitive. Why not dress the part and win something for your efforts? It'll be fun. I'll be playing the part too! I am especially interested in seeing how Chicagoans respond to my class. The Midwest is not especially known for wearing retro clothes the way folks on the West and East Coasts are. The only residents who seem to wear vintage on a regular basis are those in the rockabilly crowd. I should note also that winners will have their pictures uploaded to the Vogue Fabrics web site.
USA Today: How long do you expect to offer your class?
MBK: For three hours on Sunday afternoons. Honestly, I hope the workshops eventually become unpopular. As soon as the economy pick ups, those poodle skirts are going into hiding, and everyone will be back to wearing the latest and great microfibers faster than Flash Gordon could zap across the sky.
USA Today: Until then....
MBK: Yes, until then you'll find me at Vogue Fabrics helping more people align their zippers than ever I've done in my life! To my credit, I've been sewing for years, and I make a lot of clothes for myself. See this top. I made it. The scarf? I knitted that. And I really know the Viking machines at Vogue Fabrics, because I own and use one myself.
USA Today: I think that's about all. Thank you so much for your time.
MBK: Oh, you're most welcome. I hope you sign up for the class. Nothing like a little sock hop with a trip to SuperDawg afterward to get the blood flowing!
* The interview with USA Today is pretend. I made it up. Okay? But the class is blood-and-flesh reel. Here's a link to check it out.