Stina Sayre: The right fit
A native of Sweden, designer Stina Sayre has lived on the Island since 1985 when she and her husband, Nevin Sayre, settled here after traveling around the world competing in windsurfing events.
The couple, world-class windsurfers, have family roots on the Island, so for Ms. Sayre it was an ideal place to combine her athletic sense with her lifelong interest in fashion. In 1996, she began creating her own line of women's clothing. Her studio boutique on Beach Road Extension in Vineyard Haven showcases her handcrafted line of everyday and special occasion fashions for women. She presents two new collections a year.
"My grandfather started clothing stores in Sweden so I guess it's in my blood," Ms. Sayre says. A slim, lithe blonde, she says she began designing clothing in order to have something to wear: "I'm a small person. I wanted to wear clothing that was more athletic than cute - functional yet feminine."
Ms. Sayre's sophisticated palette reflects the landscape of the Island, employing natural whites and muted blue-grays, taupes, and other shades from the earth and sea. She buys fabrics in New York and around the world during travels with her family. There are opportunities to discover the leftover materials from high-end designers like Ungaro, Donna Karan and Bebe. She says fabrics that are the best come from Italy, France and Japan, noteworthy for their rich body and texture.
"The fabric draws you," Ms. Sayre says. Bolts are suspended in her studio rafters and swatches hang from the wall. The compact retail space contains a large cutting table, two racks of ready-to-wear clothing, a fitting area and sewing room. She loves to show customers how clothing is made. "It's a lost art," she says.
A glance at the racks along one wall yields a glimpse into Ms. Sayre's aesthetic. Shimmering or silky, linen or leather, her clothing invites touch and beckons the senses. She easily mixes the pouf of a ballerina skirt with the simplicity of a sleek tank top, contrasting styles and textures in dramatic ensembles.
Ms. Sayre's clients range in age from 20 to 85. They are drawn, she says, to the spirit of her clothing. "As I grow older I'm beginning to design for the fuller body, not just for the slender woman," she says. "I now incorporate some elastic, more stretch in fabrics."
And she adds, "Fashion is a great expression; a great language. It breaks barriers like art."
Stina Sayre,13 Beach Road Extension. 508-560-1011.
Karla Araujo is a regular contributor to The Times.