By MIKE CHAIKEN
Ebony Parish, as her fashion design alter ego Asa Gleek, earned the honors to be called the Raw Natural Born Artists fashion designer of the year for Connecticut in 2012.
Asa Gleek, however, has more in common with flamboyant fashion designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier or Vivienne Westwood, than a band built on luxe such as Calvin Klein or Michael Kors.
Like Gaultier or Westwood, Ebony finds the art in the garments she creates.
The Torrington resident said her move to creating fashion came about because “I sort of decided I was tired of art hanging on wall and I wanted to see art on people in every day life. I started… taking my designs and printing them on clothing, trying to figure out what was going to work and what wasn’t going to work.”
Things began rolling in earnest for Ebony when she was asked to participate in a runway fashion show on Main Street in Torrington. “I panicked and said yes and then I panicked again. Then I asked the best seamstress I know, my mother, to help me put a show together that was going to be fashionable, artistic, and with unique designs.”
And after working their tails off, mom and daughter managed to pull off eight outfits for the runway event, and Asa Gleek was off and running.
Then Raw Natural Born Artists, which was launching its initial year in Hartford and Connecticut, reached out to Ebony to put on a fashion show.
“It kind of just happened,” said Ebony of her fashion endeavors. “I was really inspired with what I was coming up with and working together with my mom (Dale Amber) in coming up with designs.”
At a fashion shoot for the Observer, Ebony brought one of her designs to use with model Cole Shine of Southington.
“The design I’m using today was actually for a dance routine that was supposed to be about ‘fire and desire,’” said Ebony. “(For the shoot) I’m taking two outfits and combining them… The fire idea brought up thoughts of color, leather, and all these marriages of different textures… so I used some glass, some fabric, and leather and repurposed it. It’s all upcycled from old ‘80s leather jackets and stuff. And that’s what also inspires me taking old stuff and reusing it again.”
When it came to designing the piece for the dance routine, Ebony said other than “fire and desire,” she had nothing else to go by. “I just knew one character was fire and one character was desire and they needed to co-exist. They had to look like each other but different. (But) I didn’t want it to be bluntly obvious… (I wanted them to be) individually different… They needed to be both sexy, both a little fire and desire, but separate from each other.”
Also for the shoot, Ebony brought in an elaborate headpiece she created to put on Cole.
“The whole head piece… came from just wanting to do something that I thought would be interesting and had not been seen before.”
Ebony explained, “Every time I come up with an idea I Google it to just see what will come up to see if I had seen this from somewhere and is this something that has been done (before)… If I Google it and I can’t really find what I want to do, I definitely go for it.”
“It sort evolves when you’re (creating),” said Ebony. “It’s just like coming up with a painting in your head. You want to go this way and then something happens and you end up going another way… Sometimes a mistake is the best thing that can happen. Sometimes you open up different doors… and do something different. And it comes out better.”
Right now, Ebony said she is primarily working as a fashion designer on-demand because life has been intervening lately. Her long-term goal is unsettled. Instead, she has a take it as it comes attitude. “When you have an idea and you want to see it happen, that’s where I live.”
For more information, look for Asa Gleek on Facebook.
By MIKE CHAIKEN