New boho-chic art

And Bill Blass is back with a fun new collection

The Revival of Bill Blass
While I tend to stick to local things to do/see/eat/buy, sometimes I deviate just a smidge. In this case, my topic is still Fort Wayne-related. Legendary fashion designer Bill Blass, a Fort Wayne native (see?), is known the world over for being the godfather of modern American sportswear and remains a giant in the fashion world to this day.

Blass grew up in Depression-era Fort Wayne and was the son of a dressmaker, mother Ethyl Easter Blass. He moved to Manhattan at age 17, working in the industry for a time before enlisting in the Army in 1942, joining a secret unit during World War II with writers, artists, sound engineers and other theatrical professionals whose mission was to fool the Nazis about the whereabouts of Allied troops by setting up fake camps. Blass served in this 603rd Camouflage Battalion for several noteworthy and game-changing operations like the Battle of the Bulge and Normandy.

In 1945, he returned to the fashion industry, working under a few notable designers, then in 1970 purchased the company of his last employer, renaming it Bill Blass Limited. He was the first American designer to put his own name on the labels of his clothing designs, which eventually included swimwear, furs, luggage, perfume, chocolate and limited-edition Ford Motor Company cars, making his back-to-back B logo a symbol recognized worldwide.

While Bill Blass Limited had grown to a $700-million-dollar business by the late ’90s, the company has struggled to remain relevant in the years following Blass’ death in 2002. Until now. Chris Benz, known for his youthful and colorful approach to American Ready-to-Wear (and sometimes his neon pink hair), is now the Creative Director of Bill Blass Group, and I couldn’t be more excited for the future of the label. As a Fort Wayne native and current resident, I want to see the Bill Blass name live on, and the debut collection under Benz looks very promising. With crisp basics in bold colors as well as flirty silhouettes with plenty of sparkle and shine, the well-edited collection is fun and bright with a touch of luxury. I believe Mr. Blass would very much approve. And if someone would like to get me an early birthday gift, I’d love the Large Circle Bag in Aquifer or the Becky Satchel in Buckthorn Brown, please. Or both, if you’re feeling generous. Shop Bill Blass online at www.billblass.com.

Tiny Clementine Art
I came across a local artisan via Instagram and was immediately drawn to her boho-chic creativity. Lissa Brown uses a variety of materials like polymer clay, resin, wood, agate, found objects from nature and liquid gold leaf (swoon) to create one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, many with a mystical kind of vibe. One of my favorite pieces of Brown’s is a super-cool aromatherapy necklace that features a porous bead. Place a few drops of essential oil on the bead, and it will be diffused for hours. It’s a must-have, coveted piece for essential oil junkies like me. In addition to jewelry, she also creates beautiful art, prints, paintings and mixed media collages that also feature plenty of that liquid gold leaf (swoon again). You can find these uncommon pieces at various craft markets and pop-up shops as well as Firefly Coffee House. Follow @tiny_clementine_art on Instagram and shop online at www.tinyclementine.storenvy.com.

Coming Soon — The Golden
Just in case you hadn’t heard the big news, Executive Chef Aaron Butts, Sous Chef Sean Richardson and Sommelier Carmen McGee have parted ways with Joseph Decuis. The news broke in December, and I immediately hopped on the phone with Butts to discuss the triumvirate’s new adventure. After 15 years of helping to build the restaurant into the gourmet destination it is, Butts said he’s proud of the work he’s done and that his employment at Joseph Decuis felt like being part of a big family, one with sophisticated taste buds.

The new venture started a few years ago when Butts and Richardson began a fun side project called The Golden, a roving craft cocktail party (pop-up style) that delighted revelers with unique, high-end cocktails. Seriously, the two chefs have a way with spirits. The events were so buzz-worthy, it eventually inspired the two, plus Butts’ wife, Sommelier McGee, to hatch a plan to turn The Golden into a full-fledged brick-and-mortar destination in downtown Fort Wayne at the highly anticipated, sparkling and game-changing Ash building. The Golden will feature locally sourced meats, vegetables and dairy – only the best ingredients from Indiana. Hawkins Farm will supply The Golden with pork, duck and some vegetables grown exclusively for the restaurant with other ingredients coming from local companies Capriole, Trader’s Point, Seven Sons and Gunthorp Farms. The Golden will emphasize fresh, sometimes even harvesting right from their rooftop garden. The menu will be approachable – think fine dining without the stuffiness. The team is aiming for a casual vibe but with superior attention to detail, cuisine and customer service.

While The Golden won’t open for a few months still, it’s safe to say we’ll all be expecting great things from this exceptionally talented power trio. I, for one, am over the moon at the prospect of a proper brunch in downtown Fort Wayne (children allowed!). There are so many more details that just won’t fit onto this page so be sure to “like” The Golden Fort Wayne on Facebook to stay in the loop.

First appeared in the February 2016 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.

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