An Upcycled, Unforgettable Thanksmas

by carla on December 5, 2011 · 2 comments

in Operations,Yippees

Catherine Charlot (right), a Brooklyn fashion designer and owner of Upcycle with Himane.

There is nothing quite like creating one-of-a-kind gifts that will remain in the hearts of your loved ones for life. Thanks to Catherine Charlot, the Brooklyn fashion designer behind Upcycle with Himane, I was able to make this holiday season unforgettable.

Catherine’s work is featured in this month’s O, The Oprah Magazine, so I feel as though I’ve stumbled across her amazing talents at just the right time (before she’s too busy to return my calls!). In looking at her designs on Big Cartel, you’ll see that her work consists mainly of transforming umbrellas, yoga mats and other found/discarded items into beautiful handbags and clothing, making them even better (hence the term upcycling, not just recycling). But when I met Catherine at a Style with Glee event and she mentioned she can also upcycle the clothing of a loved one who has passed into functional and fashionable handmade items that can be used in that person’s memory, I knew what I wanted to do for my family for Christmas this year.

My father, the well-dressed Anthony Arnone, stands with me at an ASCAP performance in NYC in 2001.

This past summer, I commissioned Catherine to create Christmas gifts for my family from the clothes of my father, Anthony Arnone, who died of lung cancer in September 2010. I wanted to make this second holiday season since his passing extra memorable for my family, so I showed up at the Himane workshop with three bags of my father’s pants, jackets and ties, and Catherine proceeded to start combining the items and spec out the 18 wallets, handbags and eyeglass cases for my family members.

The pile of ties I brought to Himane to be upcycled. (Photo by Catherine Charlot)

Since I won’t be home for Christmas this year, we set a deadline for the week of Thanksgiving, when my husband and I would surprise my family with these gifts at my mother’s house, combining the two holidays into Thanksmas.

The end result was phenomenal. Catherine’s designs are fresh and inspired, and she maintained the integrity of each fabric, using them in their entirety, linings and all. My family was absolutely stunned and thrilled by the pieces, and were not only in awe of Catherine’s handiwork, but also of the idea itself. My dad’s best friend said that now he can “carry his buddy with him in his pocket every day.” My mother was incredibly touched and couldn’t get over the gorgeous handmade designs.

I can’t thank Catherine enough for having made my holiday season so special, and I hope that others will look to her to create similar projects to enable lifelong memories of their own. Catherine is the subject of an upcoming documentary by filmmaker Rob Weiss, and I can’t wait for more people to learn of her amazing talent and compassion.

Enjoy the photos, and please let me know in the comments if you have any questions. To contact Catherine, visit her blogher Himane Facebook page or email her directly.

A blessed holiday season to you all,


A wallet made from one of my father's ties. We made 10 wallets in total for the male gift recipients. (Photo by Catherine Charlot)

The front of the brown tie wallet (Photo by Catherine Charlot)

This tote bag was created from my father's tweed blazer. (Photo by Catherine Charlot)

This is the tweed blazer from which the tote bag and the little purse were made. The tie in this pic was used on one of the clutch handbags.

This small purse was created out of the same tweed blazer, and features a cell phone pocket in front. (Photo by Catherine Charlot)

The pants and tie that made up my sister's handbag in the pic below

This gorgeous bag was made from my father's pants (see the before pic above) and one of his ties (for the trim, the handle and the bottom-left and bottom-right corners). (Photo by Catherine Charlot)

This grey clutch was made from my father's pants and a tie, which features a velcro enclosure in the front. (Photo by Catherine Charlot)

The clutch at right was made from this pair of pants and tie.

This clutch, made from my dad's pants and a tie, features a velcro front enclosure. (Photo by Catherine Charlot)

One of these ties was used to create one of the eyeglass cases at right.

Made from my father's ties, these eyeglass cases hold any kind of eyewear. (Photo by Catherine Charlot)

My dad's best friend proudly displays his wallet made from my dad's tie.

The full array of wallets made from my dad's ties

My mom said these upcycled gifts (hers was a handbag and an eyeglass case) were the most incredible, thoughtful gifts she could imagine.

My family holds up their one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts made by Upcycle with Himane.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sam and Suzanne Spano July 18, 2012 at 14:23

You never cease to amaze us. You are so thoughtful and resourceful And always meet such interesting people.
Catherine Charlot of Upcycle With Himane rocks and so do you!

Sustainably yours:),
Suzanne and Sam


2 Carla Fisher July 18, 2012 at 15:54

Why thank you, Suzanne & Sam!

I am blown away by Catherine’s creativity, generosity and forward-thinking. No matter how often myself or my family uses our upcycled gifts, it’s nice to know that a fond memory awaits each time we do.

Thank you for reading, and for supporting sustainability in design!




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