OPENING DAY EVENTS at MAD
March 2, 2017
6:00pm Exhibition Tour with Michael Cepress and Fayette Hauser
7:00pm Panel Discussion
with Michael Cepress, Fayette Hauser, Alexandra Jacopetti Hart, and Andrea Aranow
After a thrilling premiere at the Bellevue Arts Museum last fall, Michael Cepress’ exhibition “Counter-Couture” is traveling to the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. The exhibition celebrates the handmade fashion and style of the 1960s and 1970s, and features 50 artists making works emblematic of this special moment in America’s cultural history.
“When I was fifteen years old I found a copy of Alexandra Jacopetti Hart’s book Native Funk & Flash, which not only gave birth to my earliest steps toward becoming a fashion designer, but also led me to devote over half my life to researching this period in history I feel so deeply inspired by. This exhibition is the culmination of that research, and shares the vital stream of passion, ideas, and artist activists that chose fashion to help create a better world for us all. Every stitch in the show is an expression of a truly meaningful cultural movement we all have a connection to. As the show now begins to travel, it is an honor to showcase it at MAD and bring the magic of it all to a New York audience.” – Michael Cepress, Curator of Counter-Couture
It is amidst heartache and tears that I share the news that Lee Brooks of Alex & Lee jewelry has passed away. I not only had the pleasure of enjoying countless years of inspiration from the design, artistry and spiritual power of Alex & Lee’s remarkable wearable art pieces, but also had the pleasure of getting to know Lee personally – along with this wonderful partner Greg – to form a friendship I will always cherish.
It was in November 2014 when I made the long and winding drive along Hwy 1 from San Francisco to the California coast to meet Lee and Greg for the first time at their home. As I approached this jewel of a house (an architectural echo of the famous Alex and Lee jewelry aesthetic) the door swung open with Greg smiling to greeting me. Three steps inside the door stood Lee, gentle and calm, extending both hands and then saying, “Welcome home.” The grace and peace with which Lee carried himself was impressive, inspiring, and inspired. I arrived with butterflies in my stomach, about to meet the man who had already given me over 15 years of unending artistic fire and delight by way of the images I first saw in the iconic book Native Funk & Flash, along with the research I would continue to pursue in the interest of creating my exhibition Counter-Couture. Upon spending the day with these gentlemen, I was warmly offered the stories of Alex and Lee’s earliest days together, and the birth of their career as the true cosmic-hippie-jeweler-heros of the counter-culture of the 1960s and 1970s. Lee’s passion for telling stories – richly decorated and impassioned tales – quickly queued me into the preciousness of the history Alex and Lee created as artists. He shared memories of the duo decorating the necks of everyone from society women to Tina Turner, Salvador Dali, and countless blessed individuals who were lucky enough to be able to own their handmade treasures. Amidst these hours of dynamic tales of world-travel, psychedelics, sex, celebrities, art world royalty and truly eye-dazzling show and tell of photos and jewelry and art, Lee told me, “When I was about your age I had a realization that forever changed my life. I heard the voice of God inside me, and he told me that I was perfect! From that moment on I knew that within me was everything I ever needed, and that my only job was to live the life that I was meant to live – and to be ME in only the way that I can be me!” He shared this without a glimmer of ego or boastfulness. It was clearly an honest expression of the beauty and power of self-realization in an artist’s life – something so many of us dream of finding only for moment. Hearing these words added another rich layer of meaning to my understanding that we all have a voice. And we each have special gifts that are unique to us. To not share those gifts is not only a disservice to our own soul, but also to the rest of the world who eagerly awaits the presence and pleasure that happens when we share those gifts. Those words of this beautiful elder-mentor-brother-icon friend can never be unheard, and are imprinted into my mind and heart forever.
As my work evolved, Counter-Couture eventually became an 8500-square foot-museum-reality at Bellevue Arts Museum last fall. We were treated to Lee and Greg’s company at the opening night celebration of the exhibit, which showcased over a dozen items from the archives of Alex & Lee. The show not only featured jewelry by these men, but also the exact head-to-toe ensemble Lee wore in the Jerry Wainwright photographs featured in Native Funk and Flash in 1974. Seeing then-75 year old Lee standing beside the museum-displays of himself from 40 years prior was magical, and a testament to the power of a life devoted to sharing one’s vision and gifts.
At the end of the museum celebration that night, Lee pulled me aside and said “I am so lucky to know you, and so grateful for all the hard work you’ve done to bring us all together and put so much artwork back into the spotlight after all these years. May I stitch you into my life?” I of course said I would be honored, not realizing that this stitching would shift over to the spirit realm so soon.
I share these words and photos in tribute to Lee Brooks, a marvelous man filled with love, talent and wisdom that took form in each work of art he made, each storied he shared, and the acts of grace and goodness and just plain fun he was so committed to making. Rest in peace, Lee, you will forever be remembered.
Lee Brooks, 1974. Photo by Jerry Wainwright for book “Native Funk & Flash” by Alexandra Jacopetti Hart.
Lee Brooks beside a photo of himself in my exhibition “Counter-Couture” at Bellevue Arts Museum.
Greg Franke, Lee Brooks and Alexandra Jacopetti Hart exploring “Counter-Couture.”
The hands of the artist: Lee Brooks.
Michael Cepress and Lee Brooks
Michael Cepress and Lee Brooks celebrate on opening night of Counter-Couture.
Lee Brooks in front of a portrait of Alex and Lee in Counter-Couture.
Lee Brooks, 1981.
Arin Burch (daughter of jewelry designer/artist Laurel Burch) Greg Franke, Lee Brooks and Michael Cepress on opening night of Counter-Couture at Bellevue Arts Museum.
The creative momentum is growing at Michael Cepress Studio, and we are delighted to announce several new styles now available and on view online. In the weeks ahead Michael will continue to debut a selection of new designs, and we hope you’ll keep on eye on things as the magic unfolds!
Riding high from the success of his curatorial debut with Counter-Couture at Bellevue Arts Museum, designer Michael Cepress presents his newest collection: MC HISTORY.
Cepress has carefully assembled this special collection of antique and vintage garments to present beside the works made in his studio. His enthusiasm for the rich history clothing can share has led to the creation of this MC HISTORY collection.
“Clothing has the remarkable ability to tell stories of not only the person who wore the garment, but of an entire culture and its place in the greater history of the world. My love of exquisite and unique textiles led me to begin this collection with antique kimonos, and I intend to expand upon it as we continue into 2016.” – Michael Cepress
Counter-Couture celebrates the handmade fashion and style of the 1960s and 1970s. Often referred to as the hippie movement, the Counterculture of the era swept away the conformism of the previous decade and professed an alternative lifestyle whose effects still resonate today.
Moved by the rejection of a materialist and consumerist interpretation of the American Dream, hippies embraced ideals of self-sufficiency and self-expression. With the Vietnam War protests and the civil rights movement as a backdrop, Counterculture youth shunned the cultural standards of their parents, embraced the struggle for racial and gender equality, used drugs to explore altered states of consciousness, and cultivated a renewed dimension of spirituality.
Amidst a counterculture whose values celebrated everyone’s hands, minds, and intuition, fashion—and more essentially, personal style—proved a transcendental tool toward self-realization, enlightenment, and freedom from conventions. Counter-Couture exhibits garments, jewelry, and accessories of American makers who crafted the very reality that they craved, on the margin of society and yet at the center of an epochal change. The works on display encompass the ethos of a generation who achieved change by sewing, embroidering, and tie-dyeing their identity.
The exhibition captures the energy and character of the style and period through four lenses: Funk & Flash, Couture, Performance, and Transcendence. Each section tells a piece of this greater American story. Exhibited clothing takes on different roles—creating a social statement for political change, basking in freedom from trend, celebrating the body, and highlighting the true beauty of authentic personal style.
“Counter-Couture” is curated by Michael Cepress.
THE ROBBIE TURNER REVUE
LIVE AT THE HARD ROCK SEATTLE
APRIL 17 & 19, 2015
Doors at 7pm, Show at 8pm
An evening of true talent and entertainment with Seattle’s Dazzling Darling Robbie Turner!
Director and Choreographer Troy Wageman
Costumes by Michael Cepress
THE ROBBIE TURNER *HOLIDAY* REVUE
HARD ROCK- SEATTLE
DEC 14, 16, 22, 2014
Starring Seattle’s Dazzling Darling Robbie Turner
Directed and Choreographer by Troy Wageman Costumes by Michael Cepress
Purchase Your Tickets HERE
“I could not imagine a more talented, funny and inspiring cast than those we have on board with this amazing show. When Robbie, Troy and I teamed up to put this together, we wanted to revive the magic of 1960s and 1970s television specials and variety shows we adore so much. I think show does that, giving every audience member a fresh sense of what true entertainment is really all about!” – Michael Cepress
The holidays are upon us and our doors will be open this Sunday for our quarterly Open House event here at the historic Inscape Arts Building and MC Studio. A variety of new designs will be on display and available for sale including our new line of scarves, bandanas and bowties. Holiday shopping is better when you include the magic of locally crafted design. Come join the fun!
For those of you far away or unable to come visit our studio in person, give us a visit online:
“For many months now I have been carfully curating collections of antique and vintage garments to showcase beside by own designs. Since I am so endlessly inspired by the clothes of the past, I figured the best way to share that with others would be to bring these historic pieces into the studio and offer them beside my own work.” – MC
Come enjoy our newly refreshed wall of authentic Japanese kimonos from the 1930s and beyond.
After a run of successful shows at Seattle’s Hard Rock, the cast and crew of the hottest ticket in town are staging the ROBBIE TURNER *HOLIDAY* REVUE, Dec 14, 16 and 22, 2014.
Seattle’s Dazzling Darling Robbie Turner takes the stage with her all star cast of song and dance masters for an evening of live singing, swinging and laughs with The Robbie Turner Revue. After two months of sold out shows, Turner and her team (Director Choreographer Troy Wageman and Costume Designer Michael Cepress) to paint the town red and green for three performances of the new Robbie Turner *Holiday* Revue! Drop yourself inside the spectacle and splash of glamour with this refreshed take on the sizzling 1960s variety shows we all adore!
Michael Cepress has been selected as one of only 10 international artists and designers chosen to exhibit in 9ISS Contemporary Shibori & Ikat Exhibition in conjunction with the Gambiered Silk Project in Hangzhou and Foshan China. Organized by the World Shibori Network and the China National Silk Museum, this special exhibition highlights the specialized silks of this region, and Cepress has created a one of a kind fashion piece for the exhibition which runs October 2014 through January 2015.
Showcasing Seattle’s Dazzling Darling Robbie Turner, Michael Cepress has designed and premiered The Robbie Turner Revue at the beautiful downtown venue of the Hard Rock Cafe. After the success of these sold-out premiere performances, a new incarnation of the revue will be returning to the stage on November 16, and a holiday show is being created for December!
Enjoy this feature and interview with Robbie Turner in Vanguard Seattle which highlights Cepress’ original costume designs for this production.
Click here to read more: CEPRESS and TURNER in Vanguard Seattle
“All of the colors I wear truly vibrate onstage. Cepress understands movement and color, but also sophistication. He designed functional, elegant and exciting costumes for the Revue. I’m so happy to wear them!” – Robbie Turner in Vanguard Seattle
Michael Cepress has joined creative forces with one of Seattle’s brightest star talents to create The Robbie Turner Revue, a dynamic evening showcase of live music, brilliant dance and sketch comedy with Seattle’s Dazzling Darling Robbie Turner.
“I feel fashion is all about performance. Each and every day our clothes become the costume we wear in the theatre of our lives, so I could not be more excited to tackle an opportunity like this to help highlight Robbie and the cast. They are quite possibly the most marvelous performers in town!” – MC
THE ROBBIE TURNER REVUE
PREMIERE PERFORMANCE – SEPT 28, 2014
LIVE AT THE HARD ROCK CAFE – SEATTLE
Doors 7:00 | Show 8:00
Directed and Choreographed by Troy Wageman
Costumes by Michael Cepress