Words by Jennifer Wang
"I always describe my line as 'shapes and layers' and to me this means that you can take something from Shades of Grey and make it your own," says Attalie Dexter, the designer and maker behind Shades Of Grey, a line of limited edition collections based in Chicago since 2009. Her pieces are heavily textural, with jewelry and wall hangings composed of complicated geometric forms and layers. Attalie incorporates vintage and natural materials to evoke an individual history and distinct mood with each unique piece. Shades of Grey originally started off as entirely one-of-a-kind pieces, with the line's name referring to the endless possibilities in design, akin to the ever-varying shade.
"I loved how versatile and multifaceted the color grey could be...everything from pale dove to greige mauves.The things I make are pretty individual and personal and I want them to be special to the owner, but not too precious. They can be worn everyday, layered with a family or personal heirloom, or be more of a statement and worn alone. I think that if something is composed well, you can wear or use it in multiple ways."
Attalie is a firm believer in the value of good craftsmanship. Each piece is individually made by the designer's hands, and through the process, Attalie creates a strong connection to her work. With a past working full-time in digital media and creating websites, she realized that there was something special in returning to the handmade. Beyond the collection of jewelry under the line, the designer also produces wall hangings as an expression of her interest in interiors and architecture, a natural extension of composing and arranging objects for her own space. The line, and raw materials used, reflect her appreciation for the vintage aesthetic.
"Vintage brass is my definitely my favorite material. I also love lucite and am lately liking vintage sequins used unexpectedly. I love combining textures and pairing something unexpected. Neutral or faded colors. Also, I'm getting really into textiles for the wall hangings and love natural hand dyed wool and silk mixtures."
After receiving more demand for orders and wholesaling through shops, with a dose of encouragement from family and friends, Attalie realized she would need to start producing more of the same style to move forward. Today, her collections are bi-annual with a few mini-collections mixed in and she still creates custom items by request. Inspired by nature and always pursuing new techniques, she plans to further develop her wall hangings and add more interior items to her line. When asked what her current mantra is, Attalie explains:
"Lately it is don't stop! Don't stop envisioning, creating and learning. Stay positive and don't stop to worry about what someone else is doing. Also, the more you create, the more ideas you will have - something I'm realizing more and more."
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