Fashion for your inner gypsy

By on July 10, 2009

Local designer making name for himself
by Susan O’Neill
KANEVILLE—Joshua-Paul Angell has always had a creative streak. Growing up in Kaneville, he wrote poems, drew pictures, and was an editor for the Kaneland Krier while in high school.

“He was always thinking up something,” said his mom, Judy Angell.

When Josh was about 20 years old, he left Kaneville for Austin, Texas. He lived there for eight years, working as a home-care hospice nurse.

When he moved back to the area, he worked in retail for a time. Last winter, he decided to try making some extra money creating tie-dye shirts and selling them at a flea market.

He said his technique is different from that used to make other tie-dye clothing, in that he uses hemp rope to tie the clothing and does it all by hand.

“It takes me a long time to do it, but no one can duplicate my design,” he said.

He said that before long, people began asking for dresses, gowns and other types of clothing. While driving home from work about four months ago, he listened to his favorite singer, Stevie Nicks, sing “Gypsy.” Her words about freedom and feeling no fear seemed to click with him.

“Go with it, take a risk,” Nicks seemed to be saying to him, he recalled.

He called his district manager, quit his job on the spot and listened to “Gypsy” all the way home.

“I never felt better,” he said.

Since then, things have opened up for him. He has a website, and he has begun to get offers from local boutiques to place his clothing in their stores.

“He’s getting a great response,” said his uncle and fashion photographer, Michael Kostopoulos.

Kostopoulos has worked in the fashion business for more than 30 years. He has been able to provide some exposure for his nephew, dressing his models in Angell’s clothing for a few of his fashion shoots.

Recently, Angell was asked to design an outfit for the cover of Salon News, a magazine that circulates to 250,000 readers. The issue hit the newsstands this week.

Although his uncle was able to open a few doors for him, Angell is working hard to make his own opportunities, as well. He had more than 100 visitors to his booth at the Kane County Flea Market in St. Charles last weekend.

He said attending local markets such as this is good exposure. He sells some of his original pieces for a reasonable price, while getting his name out there about the highend nature of what he does.

He currently has his line of clothing in the largest wholesale distributor in Chicago and a children’s boutique in Homewood, Ill. In addition, he said a number of beauty salons and designer consignment stores are looking at his designs to feature in their stores.

“Things are falling into place for him,” his mom said.

Models of all ages love to wear his creations. Although 6-year-old Maple Park resident Emma Bales is technically not a professional model – her mom let Angell use her pictures for his website—she had a great time and loves to wear the clothes from the photo shoot.

Emma Bales

Emma Bales

“I’ve never seen tie-dye like that before,” Emma’s mom Mindy Koz said. “He goes all-out, and it’s very unique.”

Angell plans to have a booth at the upcoming Kaneville Fest in August, where his former neighbors can get a first-hand look at his designs. He said he will also do a charity show in Bensenville, Ill., and the Threshing Bee/Steam Show near Burlington.

Koz said that she is glad to have Angell back in town.

“He’s always been enthusiastic about whatever he does,” she said. “It’s hard for you not to get excited with him.”

Courtesy photos