Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Essence Festival Artist S.A. Walker, Designs with a Purpose

Walking into the work rooms of designer Sia Ann Walker is like stepping into a part of her essence. Every hue, textile, accessory or tool describes this artistically gifted and culturally rooted sister. The tables aredraped with elaborate Kenyan printed fabrics, flowery Hawaiian dresses, Egyptian sheer silks, tie-dyed cottons, Brazilian agates, Mexican silver, Nigerian trade beads, Native American peacock feathers and East Indian gold-platted buttons.Her shelves are aligned with domestic and imported materials that are bright and colorful. The floor is covered with boxes of cowrie shells, camel bone buttons, wooden beads and pieces of jewelry that she has been carefully cultivating. And in the corner, sits her sewing machine.

Walker's equipment may not be the latest, top of the line, state-of-art machinery, but the simple and sturdy machine has worked with her through the countless pieces of beautifully innovative designs that she bringsforth. And being that Walker is very practical and diligent in her work, she gives thanks that she is able to create with limited resources.The proof of Walker's talents hang on the clothing racks that display her latest creations. Designing clothes on the foundation of the purest form of expression, her designs resemble a Basquiat painting rather than simple fashion wear.

This year she will be featured for the fifth time at the Essence Festival, and just like the previous years, she brings fashion artwork that is profoundly constructed and ingenious. I was floored and did a double-take when I passed her booth in 2005 and had to talk to Walker about her clothes and jewelry that were being bought by the half-dozen. I walked away with a dress that was a jean-skirt bustier with a quilt-like skirt. Her work surpasses the every-day predictable runway lines. It is, as Kanye professes, amazing.

Walker explains, "I don't consider my clothes as fashion. They are pieces of artwork to me because they are all original expressions of who I am, what I see and the daily trials and tribulations that I go through to be true to my spirit. My designs represent my life. They are reflections of my life and I know they are reflections of divine light."

Though the Fort Pierce, Fla. native uses a humble approach to design dynamic pieces ensembles which encompass her clothing line, "Soul Interprets Art, Goddess in Motion," the attention that she is beginning to attract points to the direction of her deep-seated commitment to dig up bits of heritage to interweave into the clothes and jewelry she creates.

Walker's is so culturally grounded that there is no doubt that she is destined to rock the world of fashion and beauty.The way she connects with the clothing is apparent in her designs which range from patterns adorned with African cultural symbols and other indigenous traditions to eclectic and bold styles that accentuate the manyshapes and sizes of her customers. The clothes literally speak for themselves.

"I've heard sisters tell me that my clothing has been healing and that's what I want to do," says Walker who is also known as Ms. Sia. "I am about healing, especially when it comes to the nociperception of beauty that have been placed upon us and the false standards of aesthetics we have been perpetuating."

She added, "Sisters also tell me that my clothes feminize them and allow them to see their natural beauty in clothes that speak to their spirit and their culture. We can be sensual, beautiful, natural and cultural with what we wear. And I feel that's one of the things we need to do--move closer to loving the way we came into this world."

Discovering that she could sew at the tender age of 10, Walker rarely uses patterns or standard methods of sewing. Trained by intuition and guidance (which Walker credits as coming from her mama, ancestors and God), the designer knows the fashion industry very well."In the fashion industry, everything comes back around about every 20 years. Like I can tell you what will be hot the next season and people will be like whatever, but it will be hot. My designs, my pieces are not createdto be trendy or to cater to the trend that is out. My artwork is original and customized."

Walker continued, "I don't have a television in my house and once in a while I pick up a fashion magazine. My ideas don't come from the influence of a man or woman, or the industry. I must say that my inspiration comes from the Most High. I can walk into a fabric store or a thrift store and be on my way out and something tells me to go back inside. And throughout all that clothing, a fabric catches my eye ... squinting and all without my glasses, I walk straight to a fabric."

For the last 20 years, Walker has been developing her creative sewing skills in Northern Florida. She started selling reworked vintage clothes at her alma mater, Florida A&M in the 80s & 90s. She was so successful that Walker began to add her own pieces to her selections and turned her apartment into a mini-boutique. With her designs appearing in numerous fashion shows in the South, she is known to steal the show on and off the runways.Now ready to broaden her clientele to a national, possibly international, market, Walker is no longer going to be one of the Southeast's best-kept secrets.

"I feel it's my time to step up to the plate and share my creations ... a part of me through my designs. My clothes are not expensive. I'm not trying to make people pay exorbitant amounts of money to wear my clothes. I'm not trying to pimp or get over. To me that's ridiculous and insensitive to the economic situations that we are in when designers charge these high prices. We have people living in the projects wanting some of our work and I'm not going to make them pay $500 for a shirt. All I ask is for my customers to pay for my work, nothing more, and definitely not anything less."

Although Walker balances being a full-time teacher, pursuing a master's in education and rearing her six-year-old daughter, Niani, she still taps into her energy to manifest dynamic pieces of artwork in cloth." My clothes are created to make people feel good and for me to feel good because it is an extension of myself--a part of my soul that I am sharing."

For more information on Goddess in Motion by Sia Ann Walker, call (850) 284-8505 or look her up on Facebook or

3 ish talking intellectuals holla at a sista:

ayankha said...

I love her designs from the time I saw you in one of her pieces. Rock on Sia. I think I may have to tap her for a wedding dress in the near future ;)

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Money Cowrie Seashells (Cypraea moneta) are so named because they used to carry the value of money and were used just as we use money today. This particular seashell is found around coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific. Each shell is approximately 1/2".
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Anonymous said...

the pieces give life to yhose who wear them we r fortunate 2 have a spirit like u BLACDADISTRAHBERIES