Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Clothes Whores: Inside Elisha Stetson's lycra wonderland

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge Elisha Stetson modeling one of his masterpieces
  • Elisha Stetson modeling one of his masterpieces

Clothes Whores: Enthusiastically examining Kansas City's sartorial shenanigans

First thing's first: Elisha Stetson is a boy.

I expected a girl to answer the door at Stetson's midtown apartment-slash-studio, which turns out to be a common mistake. I'd seen the Kansas City Art Institute grad's business card advertising made-to-order lycra bodysuits, and jumped to the conclusion based on the spelling of his name and the visions of a shimmying Beyonce that sprung to mind.

But Stetson is all boy, which he proved when he answered my challenge question with flying colors: How would you convince a beer-chugging frat boy that he needs one of your bodysuits?

Stetson's answer: "I've seen you, frat boy, shirtless and freezing and covered in body paint in the stands of a football game. Why not get a bodysuit in your team's colors? It won't smear when you spill beer on it, like paint. I guarantee you'll be on the JumboTron, and you'll be warmer."

SOLD.
 

click to enlarge leslie.jpg

On October 1, Stetson had an art opening titled SOLID GOLD, at Scott Fitness' 4.0 location, exhibiting bodysuits that matched 2-D lycra artwork (which is still displayed on the gym's walls).


"As soon as people put on the suits, they completely transformed," he says of his friends, who volunteered to be models in the SOLID GOLD show and in Stetson's senior showcase back in May. "They couldn't stop moving and bouncing around. Everyone acted differently from their normal selves in them."  

Stetson loves making bodysuits -- his first crack at it came during a basic garment-making class during sophomore year -- but he isn't exactly sure why. That's something that kept coming up in his critiques at the Art Institute, where professors encourage their students to thoughtfully explain their work. Stetson has his Fiber degree, but must pass one more class to complete a double major in Art History.

click to enlarge stetson.jpg
Though his art school career is nearly done, his bodysuit-making days aren't over, thanks to commissions for custom suits and side jobs finishing designs for Peggy Noland, our hometown celebrity in the bodysuit universe.

Stetson's commissioned pieces run anywhere from $80 (for a suit in a solid color) to $200 for a more intricate design (he loves to add fringe to the arms, for instance). He buys his materials from on-line retailers and shops like JoAnn Fabric and Crafts.

Stetson laughs to himself, recalling a recent encounter with a fellow JoAnn's customer. The woman asked him what he was going to do with the armfuls of gold and black lycra he was taking to the check-out counter. He explained that he was making a space suit for Halloween, and might make a bodysuit with the leftover material. "Oh, that's a great idea!" the woman exclaimed. "A Mizzou Tigers bodysuit!" Stetson was too polite to tell her that college sports were the furthest thing from his mind.

Check out more photos of Stetson's work and order a custom bodysuit of your own at www.elishastetson.blogspot.com.

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