Feature in Plenilune Magazine


photo by Mama T
photo by Mama Tbusinter3

Featured in Plenilune Magazine


Written by

Rachel Anne Gottlieb

Arielle Rose is a truly unique individual. An individual who lives according to her own rules and standards. While living and traveling in her personally renovated mini bus, Arielle sews one of a kind garments and accessories with her solar powered portable sewing machine. All of her creations are made under her brand, Cirkus Waggon Inventions. In her bus named Rosie, the designer tours around the west coast, accompanied by her two cats, inspiring and being inspired by everyone who crosses her path.
As a girl growing up in an artistic house in Santa Cruz, California, Arielle spent much of her time working on creative projects. The designer’s earliest memories are of redesigning and reconstructing dolls dresses that her mom, a full time professional potter, had gifted her. Her favorite game as a child was dress up, and with age it seems that the dress up Arielle had so deeply loved, evolved into the experimentation with fabric and sewing that the designer now calls her career.

After four years of traveling around the globe, Arielle started making dresses and got her first bus cat, a fluffy half blind sweetheart named Margot. Soon after, following the desire to continue her mobile lifestyle, Arielle found a mini bus after much searching. In December of 2011, on a friend’s rose farm, Arielle met her new home, an old USCS 21-seater Ford Econoline E350, fiberglass bus. When Arielle found the vehicle it had been sitting for seven years, and she claims “it was no small feat to get her running”. A stranger on the side of the road bought her a battery after her new home broke down on it’s maiden voyage. Arielle miraculously made it all the way to her mother’s house where she began to strip and rebuild her new mobile home. Her bus, appropriately christened, Rosie, was originally owned by a touring reggae band, and needed to be completely stripped in order to make it a suitable home for the designer. The renovation started with insulating the entire inside and putting in a hardwood floor. Afterwards she built a bed towards the front, a sink and kitchen across from the bed, and a workspace in the back. Cabinets and wooden shelves salvaged from a friend’s kitchen remodeling line the walls of the space. A propane stove and cooking accoutrements sit on a counter across from the bed. On the road the designer relies on a solar panel, battery, and power inverter for her electrical appliances, and most importantly her sewing machine. All of the materials used to remodel the bus were recycled and repurposed.

Arielle never received formal training in fashion design, and this can be seen as an advantage in Arielle’s case. Without ever learning the basic design rules taught in a fashion college, Arielle’s mind is in some ways better able to experiment and think without restrictions. This is especially helpful with her up cycling approach to fashion. She does not use patterns when she sews, but instead invents them as she goes, using her manikin to drape and pin all the pieces, which she then stitches with her machine. Arielle solely uses recycled clothing that she finds or receives by donation from people in the midst of spring cleaning or simply from enthusiastic supporters. When I asked Arielle why she only sews with recycled materials she said that “It’s important for me to inspire people to make beautiful things out of whatever is around them, and to show them that other ways of being are possible. There is so much waste and over production in the world, it’s time to use what’s here instead of buying new things”. Making her clothes out of recycled clothing forces Arielle to constantly challenge herself with an unpredictable supply of new fabrics and materials. Having this ongoing flow of old clothing and textiles also guarantees that each new design she makes is a one of a kind piece. Sleeves from an oversized shirt become the hood on a new jacket or dress. Vintage lace collars become peplums, a man’s shirt becomes the top of a sleeveless summer frock, an old sweater is magically transformed into a sexy knee length skirt, or a colorful yarn crotchet piece becomes the back of a blouse. Arielle has a vivid and quick imagination when it comes to design, and this imagination shines brightly through everything she makes.

Arielle’s latest collections were made for the 2013 Big Sur Fashion Show at the Henry Miller Library (you can find a video of the runway on Youtube) and more recently, the West End Fashion Show in Seaside. Her eight look collection for the Big Sur event consisted of only upcycled materials. Things that are often seen only as waste, like wine corks, ivy, driftwood, seashells, bones, orange peels, and crocheted plastic bags. Out of these materials the designer created highly unique textures and patterns. For the show in Seaside, Arielle made a dress entirely of assorted found feathers, another of lichen, another of old books, and more of woven tree branches. Her collection for the West End Fashion Show was made with the goal to make garments from whatever she found in abundance in the Nature surrounding her. For example dresses made by weaving branches together were inspired by her r desire to not waste what was cut after pruning fruit trees in the spring. Finding the tree branches to be extremely malleable and pliant she wove them by hand to create a stunning work of wearable art. The collections look almost like a hybrid between Alice in Wonderland and Lord of the Rings with a nature theme.

The designer sells her creations out of Rosie by donation. On days when the weather is nice Arielle hangs her designs on a clothing line that she stretches out on the exterior of her blue bus. “I know the world is tough these days and everyone deserves to feel special, I ask people to give what they can so I can continue to be on the road making dresses. It’s most important for me that the things I make go to people that love them.” Arielle is open to any kind of payment that has ranged in the past from garden grown tomatoes to lodging. She never puts a specific monetary value on any of her designs, but instead trusts in the goodness of people and the strength of her work. Arielle sets up “where ever seems right, in parks, by the ocean, on the street, or events that I am invited to such as the Big Sur Big Moon, Third Thursday’s in Oakland on Piedmont and the Independent Market Place in Seaside. “

I had the pleasure of meeting Arielle and living on her bus for a short while two years ago during my own personal adventures. Arielle’s and my path crossed when we had both been invited to tour from Portland, Oregon up to Seattle, Washington with the fantastically talented band, Dum Spiro Spero. Upon entering her mobile home I was warmly welcomed by a smiling Arielle and immediately offered warm beverages and the opportunity to play dress up. As a designer who feels the same way about dress up as Arielle does, I promptly accepted the offer and ended up falling in love with an olive colored tee shirt that had been cut and braided. I bought the tee shirt, and still wear it on a regular basis. The bus feels like a fairy tree house, and it is such a magical experience to step off the street and into this fantastical environment. Tree branches screwed to the walls of the bus are adorned with hanging lace, twinkling lights, candles, and assorted pictures, and jewelry. Her cat purrs lazily in the corner underneath a shelf of old books. Hand crotchet rugs made from recycled clothing along with warm blankets cover the bed which you eventually find yourself reclining on. A dress form peeking out from a curtain in the back shows a garment in progress. While living on the bus I had the amazing opportunity of watching Arielle work and learning many techniques from her that would never have crossed my mind.

Arielle has been living on her bus for three years now, and has been making dresses for five. She has welcomed another cat, Harold Ornelious Scully, into her mobile home, and now sells her wares not just out of her bus, but also in four different locations including the Wallflower Boutique in Santa Cruz, Resurrect in Oakland, Crushed Velvet Dumpster on Esty, and Shamglam on Storenvy.com. Arielle has a spontaneous and free flowing approach to living and  by “moving with the flow of what the Universe presents (she) is grateful to say, it is always pretty magical!”


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