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Meet: Unforeseen Circumstances

Teo Griscom is part of the trio that creates the womenswear label Jackon, Johnson & Roe that was founded in 2004. In 2009 Teo launched Unforeseen Circumstances, a brand that focuses solely on creating beautiful undergarments that are produced in US. Her pieces stand out because of their impeccable details and vibrant colors and are sure to encourage staying home to lounge around in your underwear.

Spring '10 (Bill Phelps)

How did you first learn to sew?

I really taught myself how to sew, but broke a lot of needles and mis-thread many a bobbin. My grandmother on my father’s side and my uncle’s wife helped me to make my first skirt, which I still have. Really learning to sew on an industrial Juki machine made me a pro.

How did you decide to branch into lingerie?

I grew up dancing and I love costumes and undergarments and I dislike very much mass produced anything- and lingerie seems to be lacking in quality these days, or it’s disposable in a way. (It should only be disposed of after break up, haha.) Lingerie is very personal and I love washing my lingerie and fixing it and enjoying it. I have been working on a womenswear line and I wanted to work on a smaller more artistic project. I have handmade a few items for friends on special occasions, so it was something I wanted to try.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

I like to think about one’s relation to space and their environment. Really one’s time spent in their living space. The attention to detail in interior design and how one puts them self in that environment. We all think to dress when we go leave the house, but I like to think about what I wear when I’m in my own space, and am alone. I think about art of course and paint, photography, film and travel.

This Spring '11 look was inspired by a drawing Teo did of a daybed she found in a book (Eric Kvatek).

How did you go about creating a workspace that worked for you and your creative process? What are some aspects of your workspace that are important to you?

Well to be honest living in New York makes it a bit difficult to have a workspace separate from your living. You become very industrious in making time and space to create. Most of my best work is done on my couch sitting in front of my coffee table while watching a movie. My books are important and my sketch books and my plants. I love my tape, staples, paper, fabric and my mechanical pencils.

Do you have any tips for aspiring designers/seamstresses?

Sew, sew and sew, and make patterns and fail and try again and hire help to sew for you and make what you want to wear or envision someone you want to wear it and make it, and do it all in a conscious way. Work for other people and learn. Read about history, about people and about cultures.

Do you have any tips for people specifically interested in sewing lingerie, maybe for the first time?

Be patient. Don’t start with chiffon, try jersey. Use a stabilizer. Don’t worry about elastic. Set aside time 2 hours a day, and just don’t care about the outcome. Everything is about practice in the end.

Fall '10 (Phelps)

Who are some other designers that you admire?

I like designers that make women look handsome. Perhaps typical, but designers like Chanel and Yves St. Laurent back in their day, paved the way for women to be just that and independent and with a purpose, not just feminine and nice to look at. There are also many young amazing young independent designers that are doing great things.

What is your favorite sewing tool and why?

Seam rippers. I love them. They make starting again easier.

What do you think makes your designs unique?

I really don’t know if they are, nor is that really my goal. I’m just enjoying making colorful pieces that I want to wear while listening to music and sitting on my couch.

Fall '09 (Riley Salyards)

So do you design garments you want to wear, or do you design with a certain type of girl in mind?

I just reread my response and it is sort of funny-  I definitely think about making things I want to wear, but also I imagine a  certain woman- a handsome confident playful woman- indeed or a certain story or moment that a woman would create or imagine that she is a part of.

Along the same lines, you mention that you would wear your pieces sitting on the couch listening to music, is there anything else you would like to add about how you imagine your pieces being worn?

My pieces I think are a bit difficult to wear under jeans- or it’s a different feeling then say wearing a small cotton brief.  So wearing them lounging around in one’s apartment seems fitting. I wanted to influence what women put on under their clothes – pieces that they spend time coordinating. I also like the use of color- that isn’t so traditional in lingerie.

Spring '11 (Kvatek)

I’m also very intrigued by your mood board style website. Since I was an English major I am especially curious about the stacks of books and text you feature. If you wouldn’t mind, I think it would be interesting to hear your insight on how you set up your website and some of the inspirations that are featured there.

My website is my mood board- and ideas for each season- colors, artists and places, books that have inspired me -to make the fabric choices and styles for that collection. There is a photographer Mary Ellen Bartley that photographs the front and back of books- I think they are so beautiful. I put some of her photos somewhere near the bottom of my site.   So I started doing that just with the books I have been reading- many of the book are about relationships, artists and their relationships- biographies. I love reading- and it influences my work certainly. The typewriter notes are love letter/notes, personal notes I have received.

I’m not sure if people have figured it out- but you can click on a lot of the images on my site and they take you to their origin or who took the photo etc.

How did you choose the name Unforeseen Circumstances?

It was a phrase I heard on a transatlantic flight when I was young, during the stewardess’s speech on safety, and it always stuck with me. It makes sense with lingerie, as you just never know….

Spring '11 (Kvatek)

You can see more on Teo’s ever-changing mood board site: Unforeseen Circumstances

Kirsten Harris



May 13, 2011 #

Whoa, I have a serious sewing crush on this collection. Lovely underthings are seriously underrated.