- Manuel Albarran : The Metalsmith Matures

Manuel Albarran : The Metalsmith Matures

In Art by Cinnamon McCullum

This is a bit off topic, having nothing to do with needlework – but it does concern something that has been used like a textile for ages.

Many moons ago, I worked at Patricia Field when it was on 8th Street as an Assistant Accessory and Lingerie buyer. It was a wonderful experience, as I had the chance to meet some of the most incredible designers of that time. One day in 1999/2000, in walked a young man from Spain with these lovely metal headpieces in tow. They were not perfect, but that was part of their charm. The headpieces consisted of narrow strips of metal screwed together to form this sort of open-weave exoskeleton. The idea was genius, because it afforded a great deal of flexibility in design and movement, at the same time it looked sort of clunky, like a medical brace of sorts. It was very Marilyn Manson, and all the children of the night adored them. I have a few interesting stories to tell regarding those headpieces, because of course we had to test drive them. But you would have to buy me a drink first to learn more.

Mind you, the person who brought these pieces in to put on consignment was not the designer, but a representative. He spoke limited English, and it was the sort of thing where he appeared with them one day and then weeks later I came in one morning and all the headpieces we had left were gone. Poof. He had packed up his gear and moved on to the next town.

Cut to current day… I was hopping along online weeks ago and came across the site of the designer of those early works, Manuel Albarran.  It is amazing to see how his work has evolved in the last 14 years. So intricate. So refined. So damn stunning. His creations have become more sophisticated variants of body armor, like sublime second skins.

The moral of this story is: stick to your craft. Stay devoted and push yourself to get better. It is worth it.