On skirts, and why pink rhinos matter…

You may not know this, but Savanna Bop is essentially a love letter/manifesto on life for Bee. It is actually the first collection I designed even though it is coming out third. I don’t know if I will ever do another collection for children, but it felt important (and still does) that I do this one for Bee.

But let’s work from the end to the beginning (or at least one of the ends).

A while back I asked if the wonderful and amazing Heather Jones could squeeze in a bit of time to make a little something with some Savanna Bop, nothing big, just a little something. Much to my delight she found some time, and played with a few of the pinks. O is going though a pink phase, as does every wee girl it seems. (Bee had one, but it migrated to purple, though pink is still second best and always referred to as her “old favorite color.”)

I don’t know what it is, but pink has an inexorable draw. Even if we resist it (as we did for a while) it inevitably takes over. Now I don’t have anything in particular against pink per se; it just seems to be a gateway color to the whole Disney princess thing, which scares the bejeezus out of me.

But back to the skirt. Heather made an absolutely charming and adorable skirt for O that embraces pink, but resists the saccharine. It is playful and fun and slightly sophisticated. If I made one just like it for Wife I am pretty sure she would wear it…


With Savanna Bop I tried really hard to keep the colors bright, but not gaudy, lively, but tempered with a bit of that 70s modernism I love so much. Actually I think I resolved a lot of my stuggles with translating paper color to fabric through finalizing Savanna Bop.

While I am happy with all of the colors and prints and everything (really, really happy), there is one print that is more important than the others, at least for me. If you look at the waistband of the skirt you’ll see the pink rhinos:


These rhinos:


I know that pink is always going to get used for girls; that’s the way it works. A lot of times, like with O and Bee, the girls ask for pink, and other times they are going to get it whether they like it or not. It’s just the nature of the universe, at least these days. So, it was damn important to me that there be pink rhinos. I’ve seen pink elephants, and pink giraffes, but not so much with pink rhinos. Girls pretty much never get pink rhinos, but they should. Rhinos are freakin’ awesome, but because they are rather tank-like they end up over in boy-land. (Because we all know that all boys have to like tanks. Now that is a whole other issue; don’t get me started.)

But that leads me to how Savanna Bop is a love letter/manifesto on life for Bee. When I was coloring Savanna Bop I tried to make it really hard to make a “boy quilt” or a “girl quilt.” Now there is a warm and a cool colorway, but I’d like to believe that prints from the different colorways just call to each other, reach out and beg to be used together. That the pinks and reds talk to the oranges and yellows, who then call out the the greens and blues and beg to be all mixed together. They all jump into a big piled and play together, with blues for girls and pinks for boys. Savanna Bop asks you all to ignore the usual tropes and use all the colors for everyone. And even if you don’t, it sneaks in those pink rhinos dancing a quadrille in all their tank-like glory.

And in a small way, that is how I want Bee to see the world. She may love purple (and pink) right now, but when we ask her what her favorite color really, really is she tells us that she “loves all the colors.” And it is my hope that that will extend far beyond colors as she grows and learns more about the world. I hope she will wear pink with pride and joy and mix it with blue and green and orange and red and yellow and even purple. That she will throw together stripes and spots and zig-zags and plaids. That she will try a little bit of everything and forever ignore how it is supposed to be done. In short I hope she will always love what she loves, and I have that same hope for O and her exceedingly charming brother A.

I know that may be a lot to put on a single fabric line, but that was what was going through my head as I was putting it together. I wanted to make a collection that spoke in some small ways of my aspirations for Bee, but more than anything I wanted to make something that spoke to her, not down at her. That offered a sophisticated palette in a vocabulary she would understand. My greatest hope for Savanna Bop is that she will still love it (at a different level) when she hits college and gets the modernist references within it, but for now I’m just endlessly happy that she wants to be wrapped up in the quilts I’ve made from it.

Yay fabric! And yay kids!!!


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