A Fusion of Art and Fashion

Amy Zerner
Amy Zerner, who has combined textile art with haute couture, readied a model for a show at Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan. Her jewelry showcases the spiritual and astrological symbolism of her work. Monte Farber

    Amy Zerner and Monte Farber have spent years building an enchanted world together — in fact, their company is known as the Enchanted World of Amy Zerner and Monte Farber. The couple, who have been together since the 1970s, have produced books on astrology and other metaphysical matters, along with CDs, tarot card decks, and a Web site — theenchantedworld.com — all of which are internationally popular. Their latest book is “The Enchanted Birthday Book,” released in March by Sterling Ethos.
    However, it was a childhood hobby of Ms. Zerner’s that has now catapulted her into another enchanted world — the land of fashion and jewelry. And her kimonos, robes, and other art-to-wear pieces, carried at special times of the year by Bergdorf Goodman, average $5,000 apiece.
    The tarot decks and books produced by the pair feature color photographs of tapestries that Ms. Zerner has made over the years — textiles of goddesses, mythological beings, and archetypal images.
    “I started tie-dyeing and batiking when I was a teenager,” Ms. Zerner, a lifelong East Hampton resident, said. “I loved working with different materials even as a child — crayons, sparkles, glue. Mixed media was always my thing.”
    The L.V.I.S. Bargain Box was Ms. Zerner’s favorite place once she began making her own clothes in high school. “I was a thrift shopper,” she said with a smile.
    As her tapestries began to be shown at galleries, Ms. Zerner started making small embroidered pieces to wear to the receptions. “Pieces of French silk, or Victorian lace, or embroidery from the Far East — I loved to incorporate those pieces into my artwork.” And they ended up in her clothing as well.
    “When I started doing my embroidery, using different textures satisfied a way for me to capture multidimension, the way the light played over the art,” she said.
    The creations she wore to the openings gained attention, including the eye of Elizabeth Gavaris-Miller, a top personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan.
    The first kimonos Ms. Zerner created were made to be wall hangings, but as more and more people commented on her own outfits, Ms. Zerner was convinced to have her first trunk show at the posh department store in 1999.
    Ms. Zerner admits she had much to learn about tailoring and structure, fit and pattern. Although each piece is unique and some are custom made, it became important to educate herself about couture in a way she hadn’t needed to when making her own clothing.
    Her fusion of art and fashion was an instant hit.
    “Also, some of my clients started to ask, ‘What should I wear with this?’ ” As a result, Ms. Zerner crafted solid-color silk separates to allow the jackets to be the center of attention. She custom-creates the shirts and pants, “but I always have a few on hand, too.”
    Ms. Zerner estimated that she has made between 600 and 700 art-to-wear pieces. And, astonishingly, she can remember where practically every piece has landed.
    “They’re like my children,” she said.
    In the same organic way, Ms. Zerner’s art has recently evolved into the world of fashion jewelry. She’s made her own since childhood and has been designing art jewelry for “a long time,” the pieces featuring spiritual symbols ranging from astrological signs to Buddhist icons and ancient myths.
    “Lots of designers are trying to cash in on it,” she said, referring to the seemingly infinite pieces of jewelry featuring peace signs, runes, and lotus blossoms. “But I like how it ties in with what we believe.” Both Ms. Zerner and Mr. Farber have been astrologists and spiritualists, with a faithful following, for many years.
    One of her most popular pieces is a 14-karat angel wing necklace, which features a stone of either black onyx or clear quartz, with a price tag of $295. The jewelry ranges from $150 to $400. Each piece comes with an explanation of what it means.
    “The wing is a spiritual symbol,” begins the description. “In many myths, wings often have to be earned by their wearer. Wings, because of their association with birds, represent speed, elevation, and aspiration. Some may see the wing as symbolic of a guardian angel, or a celebration of freedom.”
    Ms. Zerner’s jewelry has just been picked up by Neiman Marcus, but can also be viewed and purchased online at amyzerner.com.
    Her next show at Bergdorf Goodman is Sept. 21 and 22, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the fourth floor in the evening department, but some of the couture can also be seen on her Web site.
    In the meantime, Ms. Zerner and Mr. Farber remain in the enchanted world they have created in East Hampton, where their art and their spirituality continue to evolve.