Up Tied was an American textile house specialising in tie-dyed fabrics founded in 1968 by the husband and wife team Will and Eileen Richardson and Eileen's brother, Tom Pendergast. They won a special Coty Award for "major creativity in fabrics" in 1970.
Tie-dyeing became a fashion fad in the late 1960s and early 1970s following its being taken up by rock stars such as Janis Joplin and John Sebastian (who did his own dyeing). As it was a cheap way to create unique and unusual garments, it became popular with those looking to customise their own clothes, along with entrepreneurs such as "Tie-Dye Annie" (Ann Thomas) and Maureen Mubeem of Water Baby Dye Works, Bert Bliss, and the Richardsons, who after less than a year in business, were being called the "best tie-dyers in the city". Will Richardson and his wife, who had worked as window-dressers, were given fabric samples by the Rit company, which Will declared he could do better. When challenged by Rit to prove it, Will and Eileen taught themselves in four days to tie-dye, producing a range of fabrics which met with the company's approval. The Richardsons subsequently showed their tie-dyed velvets and chiffons to fashion editors and designers, although with little success until Halston, who admired the technique's "limp, sensuous quality", placed a $5,000 order. When made up by Halston, Up Tied textiles were worn by the likes of Ali McGraw, Naomi Sims, and Liza Minnelli.
The Richardsons's studio was located near Chinatown, Manhattan, on the floor above the Chinese American Democratic Union. In 1970, they were awarded a Special Coty Award alongside a number of other designers, such as Giorgio di Sant' Angelo, Alexis Kirk and Clifton Nicholson; whose work combined ethnic themes and influences with fine craftsmanship and an appreciation of folk art techniques. Up Tied's use of what was described as an "ancient Oriental art" of dying textiles fitted in with this theme. For the Coty fashion show, Up Tied's section was modelled by six dancers choreographed by Murray Louis.
Along with Halston, the fashion designers Donald Brooks and Gayle Kirkpatrick also used Up Tied fabrics. In 1971, the Richardsons gave a how-to lesson to Look where they demonstrated techniques for creating tie-dye fish and origami patterns upon alongside men's vests to create swimsuit tanks for women, alongside images of military surplus garments which they had customised by dying. According to Eileen, tie-dye fashions represented a "youthful trend away from rigidity and conformity".
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