As Bostonians, Katie and I are both guilty of not visiting some of our city’s most beloved tourist attractions (for her, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and for me the Sam Adams Brewery). Last week, we attempted to right one of these wrongs, and made our way over to the Gardner Museum for their Thursday Neighborhood  Night

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The evening offers free admission, live music and activities for kids. It’s a great way to experience the museum, and it’s a free and fun excuse to get out of the house on a weeknight.

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A crowd gathers outside in the courtyard for some live music.

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The current exhibit, Carla Fernandez: The Barefoot Designer, is a must-see for textile and fashion lovers. Carla Fernandez is a Mexican-born fashion designer and artist. These passions were influenced at a young age by her parents. Her love of shopping came from her mother and her interest in indigenous clothing came from her father who was a museum director. Carla writes, “By mixing these two fashions, the timeless and the trendy, I created my own style at the age of 8.” Over the years, Fernandez has managed to combine her interest in preserving traditional Mexican weaving with contemporary fashion. She has shown multiple times at NY Fashion week, and in 2013, she was named “Young Fashion Entrepreneur of the Year” by the British Council. The current exhibit shows us how Fernandez has uniquely combined her multiple interests, making her a stand-out among young designers.

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The exhibit begins with three videos that show us how her beautiful fabrics are made. These short films feature the artisans that Fernandez works with in Mexico. Many of garments are made with hand-woven and embroidered fabrics.

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The pieces are displayed on movable walls with richly colored backgrounds. We love the sculptural neckline of this piece.

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A detail of the piece. The fabric is hand-dyed and woven on a back-strap loom.

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In the center of the room is a table with multiple items you can touch, including fabric, yarn, books, and carved wood objects. It’s a good thing they provided these items because you just want to touch everything that is on display!

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A close up of a swatch-book on the interactive table. All of these gorgeous fabrics are woven by hand.

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A large coffee table book features beautiful photos of traditional Oaxacan clothing and textiles.

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This dress is stunning. The fabric itself is a luscious creamy linen, flawlessly constructed. Attached to the dress are small, carved wooden ornaments. This piece exemplifies Fernandez’s ability to combine traditional handcraft with contemporary fashion design.

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This poncho shows us the amazing attention to detail and expert craftsmanship required in creating Fernandez’s garments. The red trim is cut suede, carefully sewn onto thick gray wool. Again, a beautiful interpretation of a traditional Mexican garment and craft.

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