Check out the small boutique Studioshop in the Arts District of Oak Bluffs and you’ll find an eclectic mix of designer clothing, jewelry, leather goods, and home furnishings, all incorporating a touch of the exotic.
The newest line from the mother/daughter design team behind the label Kenworthy features looks influenced by a couple of very different cultures, in aesthetic terms. Among the collection of dresses, skirts, blouses, drawstring pants, and capes, you’ll find fine silks and a unique shiny weave from Turkey, along with vividly colored striped cotton fabrics from South America.
“We decided to do a travel theme this time,” said Randi Sylvia, the younger member of the design team. She and her mother, Marlene DiStefano, recently returned from a three-week trip to the transcontinental (Asian and European) nation of Turkey.
“We were inspired by some of the landscape that we saw, and the colors and the places,” Ms. Sylvia continued. “We had heard that it was a great place to buy fabrics. We left Istanbul and visited the rest of Turkey and it ended up being a much bigger, much more exciting trip than we had planned.”
The two women found much more than gorgeous fabrics to inspire them during their trip. “Every place was incredibly different,” Ms. Sylvia recalled. “Along the Mediterranean, the white-washed buildings made it look almost like Greece. Inside the country, the landscape changed completely. One place felt like you were on the moon. There was an ancient spa town that was just Roman ruins for miles with a calcium faced mountain and hot springs. Every place was so totally different but equally beautiful. You didn’t feel like you were in the same country.”
The colors of the country are reflected in many of the pieces in the new line and, in one case, even features of the landscape. The Cappadocia dress — a simple halter design in a striped cotton — emulates the shape of natural formations called fairy chimneys that can be found near the town of Cappadocia.
Appropriate to the climate, loose draped garments with lots of flow are staples of the new line. The Istanbul top is a roomy halter in a lovely shiny fabric. The Olympos dress has a tailored look but features lots of volume and can be worn either belted or loose and drapey. Two of the most dramatic pieces among the Turkish influenced garments are the Bodrum top, made of sheer fabric with a loose gathered neckline and voluminous butterfly sleeves; and the aptly named Killer cape. The cape/tunic is made of a unique loose weave fabric that has the look of shiny chain mail and features a fluctuating hemline and a flowy silhouette. It’s a really fun piece that can be worn in a number of different ways.
Along with the Turkish inspired pieces, the spring/summer collection also includes items with a very different pedigree. Ms. Sylvia also spent time in Peru and Mexico during the off season, and she has incorporated some of the vivid south of the border stripes in some of the new pieces.
A roomy jacket, fitted vest, and wrap-around mini skirt all feature brightly patterned fabrics. Some of these pieces were constructed from blankets that Ms. Sylvia brought back from her southern travels.
A staple of the Kenworthy line since its introduction four years ago is unique leather bags, wallets, and belts. Ms. Sylvia learned leatherwork firsthand when she was working for a leather designer in New York City, and she has been creating hand made pieces ever since. She hand dyes all of her leather herself to avoid industrial chemical processes and to make her product more durable.
The items in the latest line include unique bags such as the Bracelet clutch: a large flat bag with a front loop in a contrasting color or texture. The loop allows you to slip your hand through and grasp the bottom of the clutch. “It’s something you can easily grab onto so you’re not going to just put the bag down and leave it, which I tend to do,” she quipped. The colorful handle/loop also adds a great design touch. The Inkwell backpack includes a snap-on removable back pouch — also in contrasting colors or textures. Ms. Sylvia experimented with embossed and other types of leather, and some of her new pieces include elements in faux ostrich, alligator, and hair-on cow skin.
Also complementing the spring/summer line are eye-catching jewelry pieces from Turkey. Among traditional Turkish styles are chunky rings and earrings with interesting gems and minerals, and bracelets that are a mix of silk and stones.
The Turkish theme extends to the Studioshop space as well. On display — and for sale — are richly colored Turkish rugs, lamps, pillows, ottomans, and more. It’s worth a visit to the cozy space to enjoy the richly romantic atmosphere.
“In Turkey, color is everywhere,” Ms. Sylvia said. The colorful, exotic mix in the shop also includes fresh flowers from Ms. DiStefano’s floral business. This summer, the wedding flower designer has added a cooler and expanded her offerings of beautiful fresh flowers and greens.
Mother and daughter have proven themselves an exceptional design team since they opened the shop two years ago. Their shared vision and complementary talents have allowed them to create some very distinctive clothing lines. Their latest collaboration is proof of their close tie.
“We travel well together, we work well together,” said Ms. DiStefano. “We finish each other’s sentences.”
Studioshop Fashion and Flowers is located on 99 Dukes County Ave. in Oak Bluffs. For more information, call 774-563-0348 or visit the store’s Facebook page.