The Paint-by-Number Horse Dress

A craft room classic rejuvenated.


New Paint-by-Number dress

I have been collecting paint-by-number paintings for decades and for the Fall 1990 Todd Oldham Collection they served as a major inspiration. While I never liked painting these tedious time-eating paintings they are culturally fascinating and very mysterious often raising more questions than answers.


They reveal the painting skill sets and interests of the artist as evidenced in the set of nudes I found at the Fort Worth flea market whose nipples and bathing suit area were perfectly painted and nothing else. Sometimes the painter would have limited interest in matching up the paint color to the number on the canvas resulting in some psychedelic situations. A fast loose painter could end up with something more impressionistic while some tired along the way and just painted the first few colors to terrific spare results. The PB# oeuvres imagery reflects the times and interest of when they were made and a few concepts like sunsets and horses proved perennial. I amassed a big collection of horse paintings and the one picked to make the back printed silk charmeuse fabric is a classic. I drew the wooden planks surrounding the horse in Sharpie and off it went to be hand printed using old school flat bed screens. We also had them recreated along with their frames in embroidery and beads by Lalit Ghera who made all of our hand beaded garments and used for pockets on the Paint-by-Number Jacket from Fall 1990.


For the 1990 collection we originally only made an oversized shirt and I had the same motif hand embroidered and beaded thru Mystic Beading on wool gaberdine exclusively for Bergdorf Goodman. We had a single roll of the original vintage fabric that came out of the archive and enough to make a handful of new shift dresses featuring the horse on the center front and hand braided rayon straps punctuated with 24kt gold plated beads that were made for Todd Oldham Collection in 1994.


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