Interview with Tereneh Mosley

I've recently been getting to know Tereneh Mosley, a Pgh-raised and internationally-based fashion designer. Tereneh's eco-design company, Idia'Dega, has been featured in publications like Martha Stewart Weddings, AFROPUNK, and Super.selected. We've been working on a project that will result in a pop-up exhibit featuring her solo work and collaborative venture with the OMWA (Olorgesailie Maasai Women Artisans of Kenya). This is the first in my series of collaborative residencies at The Residence, 310-312 Sampsonia Way. An opening from 6-9pm on February 19th will be open to the public, along with a panel discussion from 7-8:30 on Feb. 25th. The show will run through March 3rd with gallery hours by appointment only. 

Below is an excerpt from an interview that will be available during the run of the show. 

CD: When did you first decide to be in the creative industries?

TM: My undergraduate degree was in business and I went into marketing after college.  After years of working in advertising, I decided that it was no longer for me. I decided to let my books decide. I took an inventory of my books (I love books!), and the art, design, and fashion books won over other topics. I then decided to go back to school for design in 2004.

CD: Can you talk about the idea of an eco-design collaboration? What makes this different than seeing folks work with collectives of skilled tradeswomen in developing countries? 

TM: People generally work with skilled tradespeople for their craft, not for their creativity. So the designs usually come from the designers in North America and Europe, not from artisans. There is a belief that creativity only comes from a Western perspective. With the work I am doing, I am collaborating with the artisans, and we are designing together. I don't dictate what happens. I don't tell them to, "Just put the beads here."  It’s a  collaboration.  

CD: You've been courting the Oneida in New York for your next collaborative collection, what will that look like?  

TM: We are going to do a collection together with the OMWA for 2017. I have no idea what it is going to look like, but I am thrilled and cannot wait to see it come together. One thing I learned from the Haudenosaunee research trip I did late last year is that you really have to respect the material, process, history, and culture. I think that will play a role in what we do together. 

CD: If you could wear anything in the world (money is no object), what would it be?

TM: I would love to raid the Kyoto Costume Institutes collection in Japan. They have an amazing collection of clothes from all over the world.