Fashion Hause: Kittinhawk frickin’ rocks

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Style intern Chloe Schildhause talks trends and togs. Check out her last installment here.

A glorious headdress adorned with hand-painted leather sourced from a vintage leather jacket and shaped into a flower with white netting overlapping the eye, pieces of vintage lace and, of course some white bird feathers? This is one of the creations by fashion designer Allysun Dutra for her line KittinHawk.

The San Franciscan designer, who goes by Ally (or to her close friends, Sparrowhawk) never expected to become a fashion designer. Luckily for everyone with good taste, Allysun Dutra has created a clothing line that is gorgeous, innovative, over the top, and far more exciting than the mundane fashions one may find at a department store.

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More photos at www.myspace.com/kittinhawk9.

Everything Dutra makes is hand-made and reconstructed from vintage materials, making them both couture and environmentally conscious. In her studio, there are racks of vintage clothes she has found at thrift stores and estate sales, waiting to turn into a fabulous KittinHawk creations. “I never wanted to do fashion,” said Dutra, who started cutting clothes apart as a student at San Francisco State. “I didn’t read fashion magazines.”

In fact, Dutra was turned off by the fashion industry and disgusted with the way many companies sourced materials for their clothes. A self-described hardcore activist, she’d done research on what occurred in sweatshops in third world countries. “The way the fashion industry is run, I just didn’t want to be a part of it,” she said.

But while studying photography and art at SF State, success as a fashion designer fell into her lap. “It just happened -- it was totally amazing! I just started messing around with fabric and thread,” she said. Soon, what started out as a hobby of cutting up and reconstructing vintage clothes became a bigger deal than Dutra could have imagined.

All of a sudden, people were stopping her on the street to ask what she was wearing, or complimenting her on the elaborate outfits she wore to work as a server at Café Gratitude. When one woman wanted to sell her clothes at her friend’s boutique in the Marina, Dutra realized the potential of her artsy hobby.

KittinHawk is now available at RAG (541 Octavia, SF. 415-621-7718, www.ragsf.com) in Hayes Valley, Trunk (544 Haight, SF. 415-861-5310, www.pandorastrunk.com) in the Lower Haight, and most recently Bell Jar (3187 16th St., SF. 415-626-1749, www.belljarsf.com), a fabulous little treasure chest of goods in the Mission. When describing the KittinHawk girl, Dutra said, “She’s in-between 17 and 35, or 40. But she’s beautiful and small, very petite and fabulous. She has a flair for fashion and understands style.”

You can see the fashions of KittinHawk at the upcoming runway show Planet X on October 2nd. “I feel really fucking blessed. In my world, doing runway shows is a big deal.”

As an artists Dutra said, “Putting my art on the wall people would look at it for maybe a minute.” But with fashion it is different. “It’s living art. I found a way for people to look at my art that’s accessible and real.” And thank god she did.

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