Wilhelm’s handmade feather pieces are DROP. DEAD. GORGE.

shk-wilhelm-feature-feathers-accesories-necklace

“If I could put what I learned into one word, it would be integrity.” — Wilhelm

YOUR (GORGEOUS) FEATHER PIECES ARE MADE TO SERVE AS ACCENT PIECES. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO DESIGN ACCESSORIES, AND SPECIFICALLY THIS TYPE?

Thank you. The fashion industry is pretty saturated right now so I knew that whatever I was going to bring to the table needed to be unique. It happened very organically. My first piece was created as an accessory to a costume I was wearing to a party. Something clicked while wearing it… I hadn’t really seen feathers done this way and I knew it was something I wanted to wear again. I could tell by the way people were responding to them that it was something that I wanted to explore further. So off to the feather market I went!

WHO DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR CUSTOMER?

I think she is one who derives great pleasure in adorning herself.

EACH OF YOUR PIECES IS HANDMADE IN NEW YORK. CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PROCESS?

It all starts with the feather… I have many different sources and I will buy whatever I’m immediately attracted to, even if I don’t know how I’m going to use it. I collect them and put them in baskets and wooden boxes around the house because I love to look at them. I then start playing with combinations. There’s always a base feather and then I layer on one to four different varieties to create the ultimate piece. I decide what works best proportionally for that particular combination by trying them on myself and also seeing how it works on the mannequin. The length determines if I use silk or ribbon to finish it and then I sew the piece up myself. The sewing gets tricky because of the multitude of layers and I only use one visible stitch, the rest are hidden.

IN ADDITION TO PARSONS SCHOOL OF DESIGN, YOU ALSO STUDIED IN PARIS. TELL US ABOUT THAT… WAS LIVING IN PARIS ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE? 

I think it’s super important to travel and experience being out of your comfort zone, exposing yourself to different languages, perspectives and cultures. So on that level, it was all that it was cracked up to be. I find Paris and New York to be equally inspiring for completely different reasons. Paris is inspiring to me aesthically, it’s a feast for the eyes. New York inspires me energetically because of the people it attracts and what that produces.

AFTER GRADUATING, YOU PUT IN 13 YEARS AS A DESIGNER AT J.CREW. WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN YOUR TIME THERE?

Everything. When I started at the company the original owners were there. It was a tremendous education to see a business transform itself on a multitude of levels, from near bankruptcy to the success that it is today. If I could put what I learned into one word, it would be integrity.

wilhelm-bird-accesory-shk

THERE ARE PROS AND CONS TO ANY JOB. AFTER WORKING IN A LARGE OFFICE ENVIRONMENT FOR SO LONG, WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT WORKING FOR YOURSELF? 

Freedom.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE? 

Course of action.

IF YOU COULD SEE ANYONE IN ONE OF YOUR PIECES, WHO WOULD IT BE? 

Iris Apfel.

wilhelm-feather-caplet

Imogene Feather Caplet

ANY FUTURE PLANS FOR WILHELM?

Flowers!

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN EITHER PERSONALLY OR PROFESSIONALLY? 

It’s not so much advice, but words of comfort that my boyfriend would say to me. He got it from a western movie and he’s Dutch so it got lost in translation which makes it even more endearing.

“When you’re standing before it, it’s a mountain, when you climb over it and look back, it’s just a hill.”

wilhelm-brown-feather-shk

AND FINALLY, SINCE THE MAGAZINE IS CALLED SHK, WE LIKE TO ASK ALL OF OUR SUBJECTS WHAT WE SHOULD SEE, HEAR AND KNOW. THIS IS OPEN-ENDED SO FEEL FREE TO GET CREATIVE.

SEE:   

Fascinating mini movie about water:

 HEAR:

Sound of a crackling fire on a cold day. 

KNOW:

Fastest path to your joy is following your heart not your head.

Comments

comments