At age 12, Nancy Rosen — now Nancy Minsky — drew on paper and then created out of cotton fabric a prize-winning suit. “(Her instructors) were astonished she did so well,” said her mom, Micki Rosen, 80, of Portland, where Minsky grew up. “If she’d made it out of wool, they said they’d have sent her to New York.”
No need. Minsky got there on her own soon after graduating from high school. In 1979 she received a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from the Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, where she also briefly taught fashion illustration. Even before Minsky received her degree, Calvin Klein picked her to be an assistant. Later, she took the helm of the Paul Alexander high-end women’s sportswear collection.
A generation has passed since then. Minsky left the business to become a wife and mother, but now has returned with the publication of her first book — carefully considered, illustrated and photographed for every sewing aficionado, from complete newbie to experienced seamstress.
“Denim Revolution: Dozens of Ways To Turn Denim Cast-Offs Into Fashion Must-Haves” (Random House, $19.95) took two years from concept to published work.
Minsky’s aim is to help customers create even more out of their very own — or someone else’s — jeans. She’s been doing it for years on her own. “I just love (denim),” she said. “There’s something about it. It’s one of the main basics of my wardrobe. It’s always reinvented in ways that are so appealing.”
She demonstrates this passion throughout her 127-page, softbound book, from “Toreador Style Patches,” a beginner’s project, to a “Downtown Babe Jacket” for the experienced sewer. Each style appears in photos — shot either at Brussels cafes or inside Minsky’s home — featuring slim, young models wearing Minsky’s handiwork. Minsky’s descriptions and instructions on glossy paper encourage any reader to dive into a project and expect fantastic results.
“Whether you are a no-experience, all-thumbs type or a craftnik who made her own wedding dress, if you love fashion and love denim, you can succeed with ‘Denim Revolution’ projects,” Minsky writes in her introduction. She believes it’s important to freshen a wardrobe, but there’s no need to spend a mint — or anything at all — on the project, especially in a stale economy.
” ‘Denim Revolution’ is eco-right, low-budget and offers pride in making it yourself,” she said. “The trims I used were found objects in my own home, (or from) flea markets or sales. It’s amazing what one can find in their own closet that can be embellished on jeans.”
Minsky ultimately hopes her book “takes the mystery out of designing; I just want to encourage them,” she said of her readers. ” ‘Denim Revolution’ is an open door to people to release, and to try and see how successful they can be.”