SaraJane Slotnick’s been working in the biz since the ‘90s. From the widely successful “Charlie’s Angels” to the Justin Timberlake feature “Alpha Dog”, SaraJane has a wide variety of films under her belt working as a costumer designer.
Currently, SaraJane is creating a line of felt slippers, bags and other accessories. Designed by Hollywood sat down to chat about her life and new brand, “Cubbies”.
How did you get started as a designer?
I had moved to New York in 1989 to work in a prestigious art gallery. I had received an MFA in Painting from UC Berkeley and was determined to make it as a painter in the Big Apple. Shortly after arriving in New York, I met up with a small group of people that were into film. They are working on Todd Haynes first feature film called “Poison”. I visited the set one day and met the costume designer and that was that. I was hooked! I started assisting her and then started getting my own jobs. It was an amazing time in New York for indie features and I feel lucky that I got to be a part of it. I worked with James Mangold on “Heavy”, Kelly Reichart on “River of Grass”, Nick Gomez on “Illtown” and more. I then decided to move to Los Angeles and continued to work on indie films as well as branch out and assist on bigger features, television and commercials.
I would have to say my very first feature that I designed called “Postcards from America” about the life of New York artist David Wojnarowicz. I was so excited that Nan Goldin was our still photographer and I found all the period clothing for the film at the Salvation Army. Also “Heavy” directed by James Mangold with Liv Tyler (her first feature) and Debbie Harry, “Nowhere”, directed by Gregg Araki and Ryan Phillipe’s first feature (as well as a star studded cast) and “Charlie’s Angels” directed by McG just because of the sheer scope and budget of the project.
SaraJane: I was asked to make four pairs of identical felt slippers for a movie called “Duplex”. Joe Aulisi, the costume designer, knew that I worked with felt and wanted four of the same slippers for the old lady character in the film. That was truly the beginning of the adult slipper line. I started to look at 1940′s and 1950′s slipper patterns and made a lot of different mock-ups before I got my pattern right.
After making the adult slippers for a few years, I realized how the same idea would lend itself to baby size. I loved the idea and so I ran with it. I thought the felt motifs would be delightful in a small, colorful size.
I fell in love with felt many years ago as I began my vintage collecting. Felt has been used in such unique, whimsical ways for centuries. I was at a flea market and I came across an old sample book of felt squares for Girl Scout badges and never turned back.
It’s dense and colorful and has a timeless quality to it. I special order my felt from a doll making Craft store in Pennsylvania where it’s hand dyed, 100% wool felt.
What’s the process for making the slippers?
First I cut out the slipper itself which is a top and a sole. I quilt the sole (bottom) which is two layers of felt on my sewing machine. I then cut out the motifs (i.e. a dog and bones, a bear and balloons, a ladybug and a flower) and I hand sew the motifs onto the tops of the slippers. I then attach elastic across the top, sew in a “Cubbies” label, sew the inside edges and back together on machine. I then use embroidery thread to hand lace the outside edges together. Each pair probably takes about 3 hours to make. I like that every pair is hand sewn by me and thus every pair is a little different.
The slippers are called Cubbies after my dog Cubbie. She’s half Akita and half Husky and is now 16 years old. She has been my inspiration for many things. The first “motif” was a dog and a bone. I looked at Cubbie’s face to design the dog. The slippers truly represent all the love I have for her.
What are your favorite mediums to work with?
Oil paints, felt and pastels. I also love to make quilts. I’m thinking about doing what I call “felt painting” in the near future where I will use pieces of felt-like paint and sew them onto burlap. I have done a few and they are very 1950′s in feel.
What are your favorite new trends in design?
Honestly, I don’t really follow trends. I am drawn to anything vintage-inspired paired with something contemporary. I like to think of it as “Grapes of Wrath” meets Comme de Garcon or Peasant Chic. I enjoyed the unexpected combination, anything fun and flirty and love Rodarte, Phillip Lim and Isabel Marant. Of course I have my Marc Jacobs moments! In truth I am still drawn to the 1930′s and 1940′s and have amassed a collection of over 200 vintage dresses from these era’s.
Who has inspired you most as a designer and why?
The first person that comes to mind is Alfred Jensen. He was a painter in the 1940′s and 1950′s as well as a mathematician. I was introduced to his work in the early 1980′s and I think about his paintings every day. He painted bright, whimsical paintings that were based on complicated number systems but they look like flat quilts.
The second person would probably be Anais Nin because I read her diaries at a very early age. The way she experienced the world and her daily life was an important factor in my choice to become an artist and a designer.
To learn more about SaraJane and her line of Cubbies go to Sara Jane’s Felt Club
To learn more about SaraJane, visit her filmography page at IMDb