THE BLOG

Exclusive Interview With Portland Fashion and Textile Designer, Rio Wrenn, About Valentine's Day Love and Lingerie

02/07/2014 05:37 pm ET | Updated Apr 09, 2014

Valentine's Day is a short, but sweet way to ponder passion, desire and romance; so how can the flame of love hope to brightly burn through this very cold winter?

Here's my fashion answer to that question about Valentine's Day love and lingerie, that I thought you might truly enjoy.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Portland fashion and textile designer, Rio Wrenn, about this topic, and about her lingerie collection for women of all shapes and sizes.

Together with the creative team of Hart Portland art directors, fashion stylists and flower power enthusiasts, Jill Mason and Kate Hart, (WeAreHart.com) Portland photographer, Travis Geny, hair and make up designers, David Yu and Janelle Hayden, we set the studio on fire with the "Look of Love in All Shapes and Sizes Lingerie Shoot," with models Alina Phillips, Christine Shield, Favour Kibali, Vanessa Meier and Natasha Ward.

Wrenn of Raw (R A W) Textiles says, "I am a visual artist, textile designer, belly dancer and nature lover."

Okay, let's start today's fashion story about love in all shapes and sizes. What do you think about that statement, and how does it work with your lingerie designs for the female body?

Yes, that is so true. That statement goes very well with my processes and attitude towards life. When I started making lingerie, I wanted the samples and models to be a mix of small and large. That, of course, is defined by industry standards.

My muse is curvy and confident. We are all basically the same on the inside, yearning for love, and our body is just a shell. As far as my process of dyeing textiles goes, and my conceptual vision -- I transform decay and use unconventional objects to manifest beauty.

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Photography by Travis Geny, hair and make up by David Yu, art direction by fashion stylists Jill Mason and Kate Hart for Hart Portland, and modeled by Favour Kibali.

Favour wears the nectar bodice, and yogi undies were part of my last lingerie collection for spring and summer 2013. I dedicated that collection to dance. I used indigo to dye them. The heart (tea) corset was made for a show in 2010 that was recycled garments called "Pre-soiled." It was made from a vintage linen tea cloth stained with tea.

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Photography by Travis Geny, hair and make up by Janelle Hayden, art direction by fashion stylists Jill Mason and Kate Hart for Hart Portland, and modeled by Alina Phillips.

Alina's wears the silhouette slip was from the spring and summer 2014 collection. I have been slowly integrating many of the vintage laces and crocheted item I have collected. This is one of those pieces. It was made with a lace table runner, and inserted with pin-tucked silk, dyed with cochineal.

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Photography by Travis Geny, hair and make up by Janelle Hayden, art direction by fashion stylists Jill Mason and Kate Hart for Hart Portland, and modeled by Christine Shields.

Christine wears the Athena bra, which was first introduced in the 2010 collection. I wanted to make something romantic and easy to fit for multiple breast sizes. The retro gear girdle was part of the "Pre-soiled" recycled fashion show in 2010. It was made with rust printing, and then quilted. I love this piece because it is meant to accentuate the hips, but unlike a girdle, it should be worn on the outside.

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Photography by Travis Geny, hair and make up by David Yu, art direction by fashion stylists Jill Mason and Kate Hart for Hart Portland, and modeled by Natasha Ward.

Natasha wears my newest garment. It is not part of a collection, but I love it. It reminds me of the sea because of its flow and ease. It is made with sheer silk cut on the base, and dyed with logwood.

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Photography by Travis Geny, hair and make up by Janelle Hayden, art direction by fashion stylists Jill Mason and Kate Hart for Hart Portland, and modeled by Vanessa Meier.

Vanessa wears a slip that was part of the 2010 collection. I thought it might be fun to take a basic slip cut and insert a sheer panel in the center to transform it into something unexpected. This was dyed with wattle and rust printed.

What are you creating today for future fashion endeavors, or on what horizon are you viewing for your creative future?

Currently, I'm not making lingerie collections. I do, however, have a lot of vintage laces and such that I want to revisit someday. I have decided to focus my energy and intentions on textile design. This is what I have always wanted, and I think by just creating the textiles, I can use the rest of my energy to market and connect with other designers who might want to work with me and integrate natural dyes into there collections. I still have a collection of scarves that I am introducing, but I am open to collaborations and welcome new opportunities.

What are your inspirations now, books, music and/or nature?

I am always inspired, it seems. Right now, I find that I love to manipulate color with my original composting methods, and from that I am seeing patterns and images created in the folds once the textile is fully opened, and breathing. I love music, and I really dig the new M.I.A. Mantangi. I am working on an art exhibit that will hang this summer in Illinois, and my inspiration is the core. Many of the panels look like cross sections of stones. I am really excited about that.

How do you juggle your creative world and the mundane? Or what's your biggest challenge creatively right now?

They are one in the same. I think of my art as a way of life and a spiritual quest.

What's your "go-to" song, food or passion, that elevates your soul?

I'm working on choreography that is more in the modern dance genre, and I will dance to elevate my soul. The music I have chosen is "Amorphous" by Bill Laswell. [Divine.]

Where can we find Rio Wrenn creating into the world her art, fashion and textiles? What's next for Raw Textiles?

I'm giving most of my time and attention to a few art exhibits, learning how to market, and organize my work to be more textile design and print collections. I hope to influence the fashion industry at large by integrating my natural dyed and rusted techniques into collections around the world. Slow is the new fast.