Artful Dressing

For this Maine artist, clothes are an alternate canvas.

Photo by Amanda Whitegiver

Emilie Stark-Menneg is a Maine artist who is rapidly making a name for herself on the national scene. She’s had a number of solo shows, including at the Elizabeth Moss Gallery in Falmouth, and has been part of group shows in New York, Denver and Pittsburgh. We visited her at the cottage where she lives in Harpswell with her partner, artist John Bisbee, their dogs and a closet full of thrift store finds.

What are you wearing?
The skirt and top are from NYC fashion designer Rachel Antonoff. The cardigan was from Second Time Around, which has sadly closed. Sandals from Estilo in Brunswick. The swan brooch was from my grandmother. The bracelet was designed and fabricated by my partner, John Bisbee.

Describe your style in one sentence. (It can be a long one.)
Lets just say, I’d fit right in at a gathering of fairies and witches, casting spells and dancing till dawn.

Is it “Maine” style? If so, how?
For me, Maine style is about ease and flexibility, clothes that take you from the campfire up the mountain, outfits that have adventure stitched into them. Sprinkle on enchantment and time travel and I am sold.

First outfit you remember picking out and loving, feeling great in?
When I was a kid I used to pick out my outfits the night before school. I remember, carefully laying them on my bed, each article of clothing in the exact position as if I was assembling a full person. A couple years ago, I discovered Samantha Pleet, a NYC designer who makes the most magical clothes. I remember skipping through a misty meadow in her tricolored silk dress and feeling like I was made of stardust.

Last memorable outfit:
When I was living in Pittsburgh, I used to frequent this fabulous secondhand clothing shop. One day, the owner said, “I have just the thing for you,” before she disappeared into the back. She returned with a “Voila!”, a sparkly red romper that screamed 1970s disco. I’ve been dancing ever since.

Favorite bricks and mortar place to buy clothing in Maine?
Weekend Vintage in Portland and Estilo in Brunswick. I also love Cabot Mill Antiques, where I’ve found some clothing treasures.

Best clothing shoes or accessory bargain of all time:
An Alexander McQueen pencil skirt from Second Time Around. I scored this total gem for pocket change.

Most you ever spent on something to wear?
I think I spent around $400 on a Rodebjer dress. Eeek!

Was it worth it?
Yes! Still one of my favorite dresses of all time.

Who is your style icon of all time?
British fashion designer Alexander McQueen. I was totally blown away by the 2018 documentary film, McQueen. Watching the film was like watching my dreams and nightmares come alive in all their terror and beauty.

Mountains or coast?
Ocean, please. I hope to live on a boat someday.

What would you refuse to wear?

What is your current “go to” outfit or item of clothing?
A lightweight cotton dress from the 50s. Once I made John drive an hour out of our way to “Who is Sylvia,” a vintage clothing store in Woodstock, Vermont. I bought two dresses for a song. As soon as the tulips blossom, they are my go-to outfits. Infinitely versatile, I can wear them while painting in the studio and then to a summer soiree.

What do you change into after a long day?
Soft pants and a T equals 100% cozy.

Amanda Whitegiver is a lifestyle family photographer who adores dark chocolate and singing with her two daughters.

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