The Power of Palazzo

Jacket and pants made from upcycled fabric. 
Gee Gee Palmore, local designer who markets herself as Uniquely Neva — Clothing for Your Inner Diva. 
Portrait by Rachel Pressley

A juried fashion show happening in late March features local designers who will repurpose pre-worn clothing to create individual collections. Proceeds benefit Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina’s Workforce Development Programs.

“Anything that I buy for my designs, I take it apart and completely redo the whole thing,” says Genitta “Gee Gee” Palmore, owner of Uniquely Neva, a local design business. “I always look for fabrics before anything, and usually items that have a lot of fabric, like old prom dresses or gowns, because it gives me more to work with.” Palmore grew up going thrifting with her mother, who loved to sew and repurpose items as well. “I’ve always sewn — either for other people or for myself,” she adds.

For the Color Me Goodwill show, Palmore was assigned the color gray, and plans to use it to create five outfit variations. “I have seen many costumes in the past shows, so I think that my clothing will be different because I’m not a costume designer,” she notes. “I enjoy working with anything shiny, so for one of my outfits, my plan is to make a jumpsuit out of two blue and gray dresses made of crêpe fabric that I found [at Goodwill]. I want to make an “S” shape with the fabrics, but I haven’t gotten to the execution of it all yet.”

Palmore, who studied Fashion Merchandising at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, has other designs that include a prom dress she repurposed into palazzo pants. To complete the outfit, she used extra fabric from the pants to design a matching one-shoulder top with an accent sleeve, plus a ruffle flounce of the same material along the bottom of the shirt. 

“I hope this show builds my confidence some,” Palmore says. “I’ve always sewn for other people and shown my own designs off, but owning a business is new for me. I also hope this inspires people to invest in more quality, well-made pieces that fit their personality, rather than [investing in] fast fashion. If you realize what goes into making an outfit, you wouldn’t want to buy anything that comes from China … it’s a long process to make one item, and because we can just run to the store to buy something new, I don’t think people realize how much work it takes, how much it costs, and how much is wasted [in this industry].”

Gee Gee Palmore, Uniquely Neva, Asheville. The 6th annual “Color Me Goodwill” Fashion Show happens at The Orange Peel (101 Biltmore Ave.) on Friday, March 20,  7-9pm. To purchase tickets, see the event’s Face-book Page or goodwillnwnc.org. For more information on Uniquely Neva, find her on Instagram — @uniquely_neva — or on Facebook.

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