October 17, 2011
Scissor Sisters !
Amy Flurry and Nikki Salk of Paper-Cut-Project woo Hermès, Cartier, Italian Vogue & NYC runways with their flamboyant creations
By Nancy Staab
- Portrait of Amy and Nikki by Caroline Petters for LuxeCrush.com. All other images courtesy of Paper-Cut-Project and Jackson Fine Art
Athens/Atlanta residents Amy Flurry and Nikki Salk convert paper into high-couture wigs, masks and fashion pieces for their Paper-Cut-Project and now, with a major exhibit at Jackson Fine Art and upcoming feature in Italian Vogue’s December issue, the international world of haute fashion is clamoring for their sensational scissor-work.
In the down economy of 2009, local artists/stylists Amy Flurry (a well known editor from Athens, Georgia, who served as regional editor at Lucky magazine as well as contributing to many other national glossies) and Nikki Salk (a formally trained artist from The illinois Institute of Art in Chicago and popular style blogger: www.fashiongatherer.com) fashioned a mini couture empire out of something as prosaic as paper. Their business Paper-Cut-Project may have started inconspicuously, with the duo cutting and sculpting pieces at their kitchen tables, but they soon counted Hermès, Jeffrey, Kate Spade and Cartier as blue chip clients. The fashion world, and several international style magazines from Italy to Japan, went crazy for their towering 18th-century wigs, whimsical ice cream cone up-dos, spiral-curl Afros, romantic “feathered” masques like something out of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and floral fascinators. The pair’s elaborate, fanciful and fantasy-laden paper pieces made their fashion debut on the NYC catwalk this spring and will be featured in a major exhibit at Jackson Fine Art this November 3-Jan. 21.
Don’t miss the opening night reception Thurs. Nov. 3, with media sponsor LuxeCrush.com. (For more info visit www.Jacksonfineart.com.) The Jackson Fine Art exhibit will focus on their current, ‘60s-inspired, Twiggy-esque high fashion spreads by photographer Greg Lotus to be featured in the December 2011 issue of Italian Vogue.
For more information on Paper-Cut-Project visit: http://www.paper-cut-project.com
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AMY FLURRY AND NIKKI SALK OF PAPER-CUT-PROJECT
First of all, have either of you worked in paper before this project –whether cutting paper dolls as young girls or more elaborate art paper projects as adults?
Nikki: When I was a kid, I was always a paper crafter, albeit on a more basic level! Then, in art school, I learned paper-cutting techniques and began my own private art business on the side. I had been doing that for several years by the time Amy Flurry and I decided to form paper-cut-project.
How did the germ of the idea for paper-cut-project come about? Why paper?
Amy: I met Nikki at Addiction, a fashion boutique she opened in Buckhead some years ago. She had a great eye and a way of putting things together that was rare and she had her own paper art on the walls. As a veteran fashion editor and writer, I frequented her store and found her point of view exciting.
Over time we realized we shared a love of fashion and the fantasy in storytelling as it played out in campaigns, runway productions and fashion spreads.
Her store closed in fall of 2009 and magazines were also in the doldrums. But that low moment afforded us the time and opportunity to do something together.
Our original idea was simply to do a great window together, something we weren’t seeing in Atlanta. As Nikki had been working in paper already and knew the material, we decided that our signature would be three-dimensional sculptures of paper that carried the styling concepts. We proposed the idea to Don Purcell at Jeffrey boutique and he gave us the go-ahead for both the Atlanta and New York storefronts. The pieces debuted in January of 2010 and opportunities have been presenting themselves to us ever since!
What kinds of tools do you use to make these fantastic creations?
Nikki:Good sharp blades, sturdy Bristol paper, and a perfectly wonderful glue.
What was your very first commission?
Amy: Hermès. They started out with a ten-piece commission of animal masks that models wore to new boutique openings in Asia and in Europe. That collection grew to thirty pieces by the time it was all said and done.
What have been some of your most interesting or over-the-top commissions?
Amy: We received a private commission for a mask for a London publicist who was throwing a huge 40th birthday ball for himself. Roland Mouret and other well-known fashion types were in attendance and wore the most exquisite couture masks. But the host intended for his mask to outdo them all. And it did!
And then there was the collection of Marie-Antoinette inspired wigs we did for the holiday windows of The Bay in Toronto last year. They were probably the most well-received and circulated of any of our collections. The scale of the wigs was dramatic, like those of the 18th century, but they were also modern in their design and, of course, in the fact that they were paper.
The animal masks you did for Hermès bring to mind the fantastical balls of the past such as Truman Capote’s Black And White Ball ,Venetian masques, or ballet costumes by Jean Cocteau—did balls or artists from the past or the romance of history influence you?
Nikki: We did find some Venetian masks that we looked at as points of reference for heightened drama. But really a majority of the influence in those masks is nature itself, direct from the wild!
Did you watch Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette before crafting your towering 18th-century wigs?
Nikki: We looked at it a little bit. But more helpful than that were the actual illustrations of different women’s hairstyles from that time period. They were quite wild and even well beyond a lot of the styling in that movie!
Can you describe the typical way in which you two work together as a team?
Nikki: We work both together and separately. Often I’m building a foundation while Amy’s working on, say, a texture. There is always constant communication when we are working apart. Because there are so many stages to each piece we are generally working on the same piece at the same time, whether we are together in our studio or working individually.
Do you sketch your ideas first or just start cutting?
Nikki: We do sketch first. It is good for both the client and for us to have a direction.
I think your creations are very akin to sculpture in being so dimensional: thoughts on that?
Nikki: We always call our work “paper sculpture” so apparently we all agree on that!
I also love the dichotomy between the high couture nature and delicacy of these masks and wigs and yet the basic, hand-crafted, craft-project feel of their manufacture and simple materials.
The silhouettes we create are dramatic and the textures often very rich, but the reason the eye receives them so well is, I believe, because they are hand-cut. The lines aren’t perfect and when we layer the pieces they create shadows and depth.
Amy: But again, the only way to really build pieces that achieve this is one cut at a time. We’re creating patterns as we go.
Who are some of the artists who might have inspired your work---visual or otherwise?
Nikki: Carlo Scarpa, Piero Fornasetti, Olivier Theyskens, Nicolas Ghesquiere
It’s been a fast and wild ride since you first started your project to now. Most recently, your work was featured in the Jen Kao runway show at Lincoln Center during NYC fashion week. Did you ever guess that you would get to this point when starting out?
Amy: I don’t think we were looking beyond that first installation for Jeffrey boutique when we set out. We simply wanted to do something positive during a glum economic moment, to make something beautiful from simple material that required more imagination than money, and to create something that we had not seen before.mIn the back of our mind, I suppose we hoped that maybe someone would see it and want us to do another window. But when Hermès phoned, we had a sense that, well, we’re “on!”
How did the Jen Kao collaboration come about?
Amy: One of our goals this year was to see our work on the runway, whether it was here or in London or Paris. We had followed her past collections and saw that Jen Kao was more adventurous in her presentations than most American designers and often worked with set designers. We approached her first and, at the time, she happened to be thinking about integrating paper into a show. It was fortuitous timing.
What was it like seeing your paper hats and fascinators come down the Jenny Kao runway this fall?
Amy: We were too busy back stage securing them on the models to see them on the runway. It moves so fast! There was a video of the show backstage that allowed us to see the final walk and that was cool.
Did the Royal Wedding and all those outrageous hats inspire in any way?
Amy: Not at all.
There are pictures of Michael Stipe at the show and we heard that there was more hometown support in the audience at Jen Kao, including John Stupka, Ritchie Arpino, Marla Henderson, and Katie Hobbs and Molly Raney of Les Nouvelles
Amy: It was very gracious of them and it meant a lot to us to have friends from home supporting us and able to give us their honest feedback later.
What would be your dream commission?
Amy: To be invited to be guest accessories designers for a house kind of like Laetitia Crahay is for the Paris-based millinery atelier, Maison Michel.
Nikki: To do a collection for Alexander McQueen would rank at the very top as something to hope for and strive towards.
What kind of brand extensions do you plan for Paper-Cut-Project?
Nikki: We will eventually be releasing a jewelry collection. And we are going to be offering prints of selected works. These pieces photograph so beautifully that the prints just turn out stunning!
Which fashion icons do you favor personally or who would you love to work with next?
Nikki: Besides teaming up with Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, we also adore Olivier Theyskens and cannot see why it wouldn’t be a match made in heaven!
Amy: Iris Van Herpen [Dutch fashion designer who blends fine craftsmanship with futuristic digital technology].
How did the collaboration with Italian Vogue come about? And what was that shoot like with the famed photographer Greg Lotus?
Amy: Greg saw our work on a blog and reached out to us. Once the idea to work with us was approved by the Italian Vogue editors (Giovanna Battaglia was the stylist for the shoot!) they gave a storyboard of inspirations to work off of. The clothing and makeup has a very ’60s feel, and so they wanted a Paper-Cut-Project interpretation of some ’60s styles. Aside from that, we were given free reign.
What can you tell us about your upcoming show at Jackson Fine Art?
Amy: The backstory to the shoot was Anna Walker Skillman underwrote the collection so that we could take a month off and make these wigs. She had been following our work, but when I told her that we were going to have to pass on Italian Vogue, she swooped in and saved the day. This show is as much a celebration of her as it is our work.
Anything else fun in the offing?
Amy: At the moment there is some promising correspondence and talk of exhibitions in China and Russia.
I would think the most flamboyant and avant-garde of the fashion group from Lady GaGa and Simon Doonan to Daphne Guinness would be interested in your creations: any chance you might reach out to any of them or someone comparable?
Part of the fun for me and Nikki is identifying who we think would get what we’re doing and wear it best, whether or not it will ever happen. Daphne Guinness always tops that list, though we haven’t pursued her. I’ve tried to put our work in front of Nicola Formichetti and Bjork!
Meet Amy Flurry and Nikki Salk and check out their most recent fashion spreads by photographer Greg Lotus in Italian Vogue at the stylish Paper-Cut-Project Exhibit's Opening Night, Thursday Nov. 3, Jackson Fine Art, with media sponsor LuxeCrush.com. The fashion-centric exhibit will also feature mesmerizing, Odalisque-inspired portraits by Moroccan photographer Lalla Essaydi and vintage, 60s-era fashion portrtaits from Jackson Fine Art's archives. The exhibit will be on display from Nov. 3-Jan.21 at Jackson Fine Art, Buckhead, 3115 East Shadowlawn Ave., 404.233.3739
TASTE TEST: AMY FLURRY AND NIKKI SALK'S STYLE PICKS
Amy Flurry and Nikki Salk of Paper-Cut-Project share their current fashion and style picks--- from what’s on their iPods and a secret obsession with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy--to their favorite fashion labels and a to-die-for, gold sea urchin ring that they are coveting.
Favorite fashion labels or designers right now: Isabel Marant, Theyskens’ Theory
Fashion accessory obsessing over right now: Mania Mania cuffs
Fave fashion blog/mag/bible other than your own: British Elle and British Vogue
Define your own personal style/ideal look: Casual rock with some real femininity
Prize thing in your closet: Rainbow Alligator Sang A bag
Top style icons (can be in any field): Giovanna Battaglia (stylist for W, ItalianVogue, Dolce and Gabbana, etc.), Anna Dello Russo, Daphne Guinness
What’s on your iPod now: Arcade Fire, Coheed & Cambria
Favorite all-time films: Indiscreet with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman!! Also The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Favorite city to travel to and why: Chicago, because it is home away from home
Favorite hotel: The James (Chicago and New York)
Favorite chic shop: Ikram
If I weren’t doing this I would be doing…. This!
Favorite artist living or dead: Piero Fornasetti
Guilty Pleasure: Jersey Shore TV show
Vice: Expecting perfection out of everything...and everyone
Little know fact about Amy: She could make the world spin in the opposite direction - she always seems to have a way of making things happen!
Favorite Atlanta haunts: Holeman & Finch, Leon’s Full Service, Octane
Favorite fashion labels or designers right now: Haider Ackermann, Giulietta New York, Mary Katrantzou
Favorite accessory obsessing over right now: A large gold sea urchin ring by Balboa jewelry
Fave fashion blog/mag other than your own: Bullett magazine, http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com
Define your own personal style/ideal look: Eclectic classic (with vintage always in my mix)
Prize thing in your closet: A black, floor-length skirt by Atlanta couturier, Marie De George
Top style icons: Julia von Boehm (Vogue Paris stylist), Nikki Salk
What’s on your iPod now: Vic Chesnutt, Ray Charles, Shovels & Rope, PJ Harvey, Django Reinhardt, The Glands, Harvey Milk
Favorite all-time films: Almodovar’s Volver, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner
Favorite city to travel to and why: Paris for the language and culture and beauty, of course.
Favorite hotel: Standard Hotel, New York City
Favorite chic shop: Tsumori Chisato on rue Barbette, Paris
If I weren’t doing this I would be……designing playgrounds.
Favorite artist, living or dead: Painter Andy Cherewick, www.andycherewick.com/currently
Guilty Pleasure: Really good cheeses, though I really don’t feel that guilty about it.
Vice: Too good of one to share.
Little know fact about Nikki: She’s a pro in the English saddle. Oh, and that she takes like six espresso shots in her morning coffee.
Favorite Atlanta haunts: Kelly’s Closet for the prettiest dresses from Aussie designers, Anis for mussels and fries, and Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party for tea and scones and ambiance.
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