Out on a Limb
by Walter Blum
(a reconstruction of an article in the San Francisco Sunday Examiner
CALIFORNIA LIVING Week of October 8, 1967)
Click here for pdf of actual article
A girl named Jeanne Colon
came bustling into our office recently wearing long black hair, a
psychedelic dress and the haunting face of a Latin saint.
The dress was real. But the girl, and the face,
suggested something vaguely out of a dream. Miss Colon, it
developed, is a designer of clothes. She is also something of a free
spirit, and what she thinks about the wearing of clothes cannot be
called exactly conventional. "I like to feel as if I don't have
anything on at all."
Now, all this would seem as if Miss Colon is advocating
the immediate abolition of wearing apparel. Far from it. What she is
saying, simply, is that people's clothes should be a lot more
comfortable, a lot less restrictive. She would like, for instance,
to do away with undergarments.
"I can remember when I wore girdles and straps," she
mused. "How disagreeable it was. And all that worry, too, about the
blouse coming loose from the slip, and the buttons popping out. I
don't think that's necessary, do you?"
One could only nod in sympathy. Miss Colon then went on
to describe her own designs, which she called "organic."
By organic, she means a garment should be natural
and flowing, the weaver should wear the dress and not the other way
around. So she uses only natural fabrics, like cotton or silk, is
lavish with lace and avoids zippers and buttons. When an opening
needs to be closed, she substitutes abalone shell or bone. And she
despises shoes. "They feel like they were made for diamond-shaped
feet," she says.
Miss Colon also does men's pants and shirts, which
she calls "love shirts" because "every shirt is individually styled,
and I make each one with love for the wearer."
She was not always a designer. Born in Antioch,
educated at San Jose State and the University of Miami, Jeanne
started out as a marine biologist. Disillusioned because it seemed
to her the profession was being "segregated by sex," she drifted to
the Big Sur, spent the next three years there "learning about life
and living" until her money ran out.
Having uncovered a talent for dressmaking, she then
moved to Berkeley where she set up a tiny atelier and where she now
works, surrounded by dresses, smoking cigarettes and burning incense
and raising her 3-year-old daughter, Amber Rose, who actually was
given seven names so that, says Jeanne, when she grows up "she can
choose whatever name she likes best."
Three stores have picked up Miss Colon's fashions
in San Francisco, a
shop called Oscar's Wild and Wooly (for men's clothes); and in
Berkeley, two stores: Red Square and Generation II.
Each piece of clothing is hand-made by Jeanne, an no
two are alike. All are relatively inexpensive. Except for the unique
"San Francisco Fog Suit," which makes its wearer look a little like
a giraffe, most outfits sell for under $30, and a large number go
for less than $25. END
||Out on several limbs, these
far-out fashions by Jeanne Colon are modeled by some of
Jeanne's friends. The friends: A. Jana Miles, professional
model, wears a psychedelic hooded silk print; B. Michele Sevryn, a "love knot" dress of patterned silk;
C. Bard Dupont, bell-bottomed peone pants and a pull-over shirt;
D. Liane Chu, owner-manager of Berkeley's Red Square boutique,
a peacock's eye "butterfly" dress; E. Jeanne herself, in a
corduroy hip-hugger pants (with a Spanish influence),
hand-crocheted lace top and body necklace; F. art and dance
student Jacqueline Chris in a San Francisco Fog Suit, ideal
for open convertibles; G. Maureen Kirby in a man's shirt of
Irish linen and hand-crocheted lace copied from a 1780
French model. H. Amber Rose, Jeanne's daughter, in a
washable cotton tot's dress with widely belled sleeves;
I. Janis Joplin, lead singer of Big Brother and the
Holding Company, in a poncho of antique Moroccan fabric over
velvet peone pants, And George, the dog who immodestly,
declined an outfit.
All rights reserved 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. No part of this article may
be used without prior permission from Jeanne Rose.
© Authors Copyright Jeanne Rose,