About Joan McGee

In her over 35 year career in wearable art Joan McGee has garnered international recognition as aABOUT-CUT-SHOT top Shibori, Textile and Surface Designer. Her distinctive and artful designs have been sold in Bergdorf’s, Nordstrom’s, Julies Art Gallery in New York, and Rafael’s in San Francisco. She shows her collection each year at the Smithsonian, with the American Craft Shows in Baltimore and San Francisco, and with the Essex House Designers in New York, among other events. She has participated in exclusive fashion shows in Tokyo, London, New York City, Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego. Joan has built up a large private clientele, including opera singers, actresses, and entertainment personalities, that travel to her studio for custom designed pieces. Aspiring artists and art lovers can take advantage of her expertise and techniques with specialized classes and workshops hosted across the country.

“There are so many things to do with cloth that I will never in my lifetime get around to it all.
– Joan McGee, Fiber Arts Book of Wearable Art, 2002

Joan McGee’s exceptional career can be traced back to her childhood fascination with colors, creating her own fabric and clothes. As a young girl Joan was known for sneaking up to the “couture floor” of her local department store, to feel the quality fabrics and admire at the elegant designs. It was during these secret trips that her quest to design beautiful clothing from her own cloth began. At the age of 10 she learned how to sew, and by junior high she was experimenting with commercial dyes to make original fabrics.

It wasn’t until she was in her 30s that Joan turned her lifelong passion into a career when she started dyeing and weaving her own yarns to make rugs and tapestries. She began using her handwoven fabrics to make jackets, suits, and beautiful blouses to accompany her pieces. As she experimented with manipulating her fabrics and designs she found that much of the fabric available to her wasn’t up to her standards. After one trip to the Lake Como mills in Italy she became a permanent fixture at the finest European fabric shows where she procures the highest quality silks, suede, and leathers.

With high quality fabrics as a base she further explored with various surface design techniques including heat transfer, natural dyes, silk-screen, painting, and pleating. A tour through Japan with Yoshiko Wada in the 1980’s exposed Joan to Shibori, the Japanese art of ‘resist’ dyeing, and through intensive study, training, and unending curiosity her fabrics and designs evolved and continue to evolve into truly one-of-a-kind works of wearable art. Her elegant & unique clothing is regarded as comfortable and easy-to-wear, with vibrant and bold styles, colors, and patterns. Her labor intensive work is truly a labor of love, with a commitment towards quality, simplicity, and art. No one has quite figured out her secret techniques for creating her one-of-a-kind and effortlessly striking clothes.

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