By: SHEA STANFIELD
ARTS COLUMNIST –
The saying goes, “fashion fades, style is eternal.” Once you have experienced the eclectic array of fabric creations by local designer, Ellen Dayan, you will have witnessed eternal “style.”
Her styles flow through space as effortlessly as clouds sweep across a mid-summer sky. The colors dance with flowing textured materials creating a compelling storyline unique to each viewer; fun, exciting, playful and bold.
Growing up in Buffalo, New York, Ellen came from a family of creators. Her Mom was a watercolor painter, songwriter and guitarist, and her Dad, a master woodworker and musician. Ellen’s youngest sister graduated from the Pratt Institute School of Art majoring in sculpture, another sister would become a potter.
Ellen studied dance at Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts. She went on to earn a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing from Binghamton University, and later a Master’s in Research Psychology. Just before completing her doctorate in psychology, Ellen changed course and began to pursue her “hobby” in fashion design as a full-fledged career.
Ellen’s interest in fashion design began during her early teens learning to sew by following commercial patterns and reading books on different techniques. This worked as long as she was pursuing sewing as a hobby through her professional years working in the field of behavioral health in Buffalo.
But finally, the cold got the best of her; even a native New Yorker can only take so much! Ellen relocated to Phoenix in 2001 where she worked another 15 years as a community college instructor, curriculum designer, program manager and school administrator.
While she was building her career in mental health care and education, Ellen decided to take a few classes at Phoenix College (PC) in fashion design to learn how the professionals really put things together. Along the way she unlearned some quirky sewing habits she’d developed.
Eventually, with the help of great instructors including Dr. Lori Nam, Ellen gained confidence and started designing original pieces.
“My classes at PC made an enormous difference in my skill level, confidence and productivity,” Ellen said.
In 2016, she took a leap of faith and opened her online boutique Tiger Lily Dress Shop. She has been working full-time, designing women’s clothing ever since.
Drawing her inspiration from music, dance, modern art and the natural world, Ellen takes a unique approach to her design.
“I don’t watch TV, buy fashion magazines or trade publications. Most popular fashion-related media and news is either without substance or distracting,” she said. “I have my own ideas and the less information I take in from traditional sources, the better able I am to develop my own concepts.”
For a mega dose of inspiration, she walks the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix with her sketchpad, recording dozens of thoughts for her original, new designs.
Ellen participates in local fashion shows, volunteers in the community and was a founder of the reFABRICate Project, which is a zero-waste experiment at FABRIC in Tempe.
Recently, she won a big costume contest through Yandy.com and the Arizona Apparel Foundation. She has also offered free digital pattern making classes at FABRIC and is now preparing to participate in local art events. Ellen’s fashion design goal is not to follow trends, but rather to explore and develop her own wearable art.
“As a writer, I am honest. As a dancer, I was adventurous. As a potter, I enjoyed whimsy and texture. As a human being, I am persistent. And all of this comes together in my fashion design sensibility,” she says when asked to sum up her creative journey.
To view designer Ellen Dayan’s creations or to contact her, visit her portfolio website at www.ellendayan.com.
Contact Arts Columnist, Shea Stanfield on firstname.lastname@example.org.