With a vast array of artistic endeavors to his credit, Marco Island artist Stan Saran views his body of work in several diverse arenas as part of a bigger scope. He revels in the creative process regardless of the medium. “It’s all art,” he says.
While many Marco residents know Mr. Saran for his glasswork, few people realize that his talent is exhibited in many forms, not the least of which was as fashion designer on New York City’s 7th Avenue. An upcoming fashion show featuring pieces from one of his collections has fashion design once again in the forefront of his mind.
A 1969 move from Miami’s South Beach to New York City found him working in various art studios, primarily studying Japanese silk-screening, Chinese brush painting, and airbrushing. His sophisticated technique landed him a job as a photo-retoucher, often altering magazine advertisements for fashion houses and clothing companies. As he enhanced, refined, shaded and shadowed both models and garments, Saran said, “I remember thinking that I could design more beautiful fabrics and better style clothing.”
A subsequent position as a designer for textile prints seemed to further determine his future as a fashion designer. Early ‘70’s collections by Pierre Cardin featured delicate silk pieces intricately hand painted by Saran. At one point he wasasked to create a series of Egyptian-influenced ultra-suede accessories for designer Anthony Muto’s themed fashion shows at NYU’s Fashion Institute of Technology.
As both his expertise and desire to design grew, he partnered with a friend to form his own company. He designed women’s wear under the label Artemis/Athena. Heavily influenced by his art deco roots, his mother’s predilection for haute couture, and a swiftly changing social climate, Mr. Saran also recalls being inspired by London designers such as Mary Quant and Biba, as well as Florentine designer Emilio Pucci, artist Peter Max and, of course, the Beatles. “We should really do something that is ‘Hippie Chic’,” he said at the time. He designed for a woman who, “might have been a hippie in the ‘60’s, but she might have been part of a jet-set crowd,” when she wore Artemis/Athena.
In an era dominated by fashion designers such as Halston, Yves St. Laurent, Bill Blass and Pierre Cardin, the Artemis/Athena line was sold in luxury department stores such as Lord & Taylor, Bendel’s, I. Magnin, Bonwit Teller, and boutiques across the country. Stan Saran’s designs were displayed in and among some of the most beautiful fashions of that time.
Saran remembers a time he returned home to Florida for the holidays to see his collection featured in thefront window of Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door and also across the street at Saks Fifth Avenue. “It was mind-blowing, to come down and see the clothes in store windows,” he said.
His designs reflect both what was fashion forward in the early 1970’s while maintaining a timeless quality that might very well render the garments current today. Wispy, pale, silk chiffon tunics, palazzo pants, halter tops and dresses feature pastel deco hand painted details. The softly draping fabrics flow freely and the silhouettes were created without zippers or fasteners. Today, both the garments and the photos used to advertise the collection evoke memories of models Marisa Berenson or Veruschka in a layout photographed by Irving Penn for Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar.
As he moved on to many other projects through the years, Stan Saran doesn’t often focus on fashion or the apparel industry at this point in his life. It is one facet of a career full of artistic expression and creative successes. He will, however, speak about his time as a designer and present pieces from his collection at a fashion show presented by the San Marco Council of Catholic Women.
The show will take place on Wednesday, January 26th at 11:00. Tickets are $40.00. Contact Lynne Minozzi at 239.642.3836 for information.