While searching for a unique addition to one’s wardrobe, in a sea full of mass-produced clothing, Andrea LeBeau Designs offers wearable pieces of art that are sure to stand out. Providing handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces of fine apparel, LeBeau uses her unparalleled artistry to create breathtaking tunics, shawls, scarves, and dresses to suit every individual.
One distinct advantage LeBeau has as a fashion designer is her prowess as a painter. The pieces of clothing she meticulously crafts by hand, in her quest to express herself, are almost like paintings themselves. By using the finest natural materials available, including organic silk chiffon, Merino wool and bamboo silk, the lifelong artist uses the process of fusion felting to recreate her paintings and interpretations of nature on the unexpected canvas of luxurious fabric.
“I can create the same piece but it won’t ever be completely the same because of the artistic touch. It’s like a painting. You can’t create two paintings the same way. It will always be one of a kind with each piece,” said LeBeau.
A native of Budapest, Hungary, LeBeau has lived in Carbondale since 2007 and began creating her popular and sophisticated attire in 2009. With her background as a painter, the progression into fashion design came naturally after she discovered the art form of fusion felting.
“I was back home in my country, in Budapest. I like to stroll through artisan markets and I saw this medium and I fell in love with it right there. I just decided I needed to try it and do it and express myself with it,” remembered LeBeau.
The process of felting — a practice more than three thousand years old — involves the application of heat, moisture, and pressure to apply layers of wool onto a flat piece of fabric. The final product of the labor-intensive method is flowing pieces of feather-soft silk adorned with images of red roses and poppies, bright, abstract peacock feathers and rich, yellow sunflowers, just to name a few.
“My felting process is different because I concentrate more on silk than on wool. The concept of light and heavy. It’s delicate and durable and empowering and strong. It’s like the quality of women, we’re delicate but also we’re strong,” shared LeBeau.
While LeBeau travels to artisan shows across the country, from New York to Louisiana and across the Midwest, she is also delighted with her ever-growing customer base here in Southern Illinois. A show of her 2018 spring line is planned for late March or early April at Anthology Art & Design Gallery in Carbondale and she has plans to attend national designer shows in the coming year, as well.
While luxuriously soft and breathable, LeBeau’s pieces are equally durable and diverse, keeping clients warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Besides being functional, each item is simply stunning, and has a timeless appeal.
“Every woman deserves to be unique and every woman deserves to be beautiful. It doesn’t matter what age and what shape of the body we have. Surround yourself with beautiful things and your life will be more meaningful,” said LeBeau.