While Washington County probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind when thinking about couture fashion, Leon Sockbeson wants you to think differently. Sockbeson, 27, is a resident of Pleasant Point and a lifelong fashion designer, with a unique personal style that combines traditional Passamaquoddy bead work and motifs with contemporary high fashion. His work is on display at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, as part of their exhibit “Twisted Path II: Contemporary Native American Art Informed by Tradition,” which runs through May 2012. The demand for evening gowns in a county with a combined population of 32,000 is borderline non-existent, but no matter — Sockbeson does it for the art, not the business.
“I’m finally coming back to my childhood dream. I recently decided to dedicate a few months to designing and sewing, just to see where it will take me,” said Sockbeson, who attended the Parsons New School of Design in New York City, before returning home to Pleasant Point.
In the meantime, Sockbeson is trying to get his designs in the national spotlight. He’s entered an original dress design in the Adrianna Papell for E! Live From the Red Carpet contest, a competition open to young designers, who may end up with their dress being produced and sold by Adrianna Papell. Currently, Sockbeson is number 49 out of 674 entries. At the end of voting on Nov. 27, the top 25 vote-getting designs will be judged, and five will be selected to be voted on by the public; the winner of that vote will have their dress made, and will be flown to Los Angeles to appear on the E! Network.
“I need all the votes I can get to make my dreams a reality,” said Sockbeson. “I heard about [the competition] from a friend, sand she said ‘Just try it.’ So I did!”
For more information on Leon Sockbeson, visit his biography page on the Abbe Museum’s website, abbemuseum.org.