Fresh off a fashion show in Costa Rica, designer and artist Karelle Levy spoke with us about her Krelwear boutique that reopens tonight and her solo exhibit at the David Castillo Gallery next week. Her fashions are silhouette-skimming, "toobular" knits cropped for Miami's oppressive heat. The seemingly contradictory pairing of yarn with a tropical climate is the kind of delicious contradiction you'd expect from an artist born in Paris, raised in Miami and Sweden, and educated at the Rhode Island School of Design. While earning her degree, Levy fell in love with knitting and by "love" we mean she started making so much stuff that she either had to start selling it or drown.
Your boutique reopens tonight, why was it closed?
I've been in Wynwood for 7 years. I was probably one of the first people there before it was the Wynwood Arts District. It's been really exciting to watch the community grow. We were only closed for about a month, but it's basically a re-launch of the boutique. We've reorganized the studio to make it a little more people-friendly.
You've booked local DJ Ray Milian for the opening. What else do you have planned?
A portion of the proceeds are going to Project Medishare for Haiti. Not only is it devastating what happened over there, but people are taking advantage of the situation and it's really hard to tell which organizations actually do help. Medishare is probably one of the best organizations that is bringing prostheses to the amputees to be able to mobilize people again. We want to do as much as we can to help.
What can you tell us about your new DiscGlo collection?
DiscGlo collection is really unique in that I'm going back to the
company's roots, which was all handmade knits. Everything is
one-of-a-kind and uses a multitude of different yarns. Basically, you
have three different looks: In the daytime, it looks like one thing,
and then something else in black light (which is something we're always
in here in Miami, whether we like it or not, because we're surrounded
by nightlife) and if you walk into a room that's pitch black, then that
has a different look because a lot of the pieces actually glow in the
Are you using fiber optic yarn?
No, it's glow-in-the-dark yarn with a lot of neon colors.
Your upcoming exhibit Oh, the Tangled Webs We Weave also plays with the idea of darkness and yarn. What was the concept behind the exhibit?
life has been pretty chaotic in the past couple years. I'm going back
to my roots as an artist and seeing textiles as a surface and as an art
form. [The exhibit] is a reflection of the way that my life has turned
out as well as incorporating all these amazing materials. There can be
so many different perceptions of seeing the same thing. Like a web...sometimes you can't see it at all and sometimes you almost walk into a
web before you even see it. You may walk into a situation and it turns
into something completely different, or you're completely trapped.
The Krel 2 go project, where you create custom pieces on the spot, has been
described as a traveling performance project. Can you tell us more
I make all of my fabrics so instead of throwing away
whatever is left over, I've started doing this project Krel 2 go. It
started because my guy friends were complacent about not getting enough
clothing from me, and it was kinda like the running joke that I can
make a 20-minute sweater. I've been collecting yarns for over 15 years.
Where do you buy your yarns?
a lot of yarn stores here locally but I don't use that kind of yarn gauge.
I use a very fine gauge yarn so I have to order online and sometimes I
order odd dye lots. I'm really good at mixing colors; I see it like mixing paint. I use mostly cotton-based yarns but I also
incorporate a lot of rayon and bamboo.
Are you still involved with the Stitchin' Boozin' & Bitchin' event at The Standard?
it was recently moved to Sundays. It's a very low key thing if anybody
wants to learn the basics of knitting. Really great people come out,
and [knitting] is a really relaxing activity.
Tonight, the Krelwear
boutique (180 NW 25 St., Miami) holds it reopening party, with music by
Ray Milian, from 6 to 9 p.m. Call 305-576-7465 or visit krelwear.com
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Levy's site-specific "Oh, the Tangled Webs We Weave" will be on display at the David
Castillo Gallery from February 13 to March 6. Call 305 573 8110 or