When it comes to natural dyes Cara Marie Piazza is a magician, creating brilliant hues and eye-catching patterns not usually seen in this particular medium. (In fact, her beautiful process photos kept distracting me from writing this.)
Piazza creates all of her pieces locally in NYC, and is careful about ethically sourcing all of her materials, from dyes to fabrics.
The result is the designer’s eponymous label, which features trendy silhouettes that are transformed by their unique surface treatments.
While natural dyeing is typically associated with earthy, muted tones, Piazza manages to create some surprising hues. In addition to the usual warm browns and grays, her color palette includes brilliant oranges and yellows, mint green, and a beautiful chartreuse that makes her current collection pop.
So how is Piazza able to mix up such incredible colors? It helps to have a well-practiced understanding of the dye process. For example, experimenting with various chemical assists and different metal bases for dye pots can create a range of hues from a single plant.
Interesting colors are also yielded from unique ingredients. Piazza uses exotic dyestuffs such as hibiscus, purple tulip, blueberries- even squid ink!
She also utilizes a variety of dyeing techniques to create intricate patterns that highlight her color palette. This includes using wood blocks as a resist to create different shapes, folding the fabric into geometric and organic lines, and “bundling” the ingredients in the fabric to transfer a lovely mass of color.
In addition to eco-friendly dyes, the raw materials that serve as the canvas for Piazza’s work are sustainable as well. Organic cotton and bamboo add a touch of luxury and make pieces that much more special.
As for silk, Piazza specifically sources Ahimsa and Peace grade fabrics.