The Indonesian have a name for it - batik. But the hot wax stencilling process used by Deborah Henry at Arladns's, is far more fragile and imaginative than most current popular batik styles.
Henry, 24, took the storybook route to designing fabrics and clothes, the type that rarely shows up in designer's resumes. She made all her dolls clothes, all her own clothes by sixth grade, won a McLean (Va.) Women's Club award for a tailored suit made while a student at Langley High School, and did embroideries for friends during vacations.
All of her embroideries then, like her prints now, were fantasy designs incorporating fairies, dragons, birds.
"often I will start without knowing what I plan to make and it will come out to some gentle creature, frequently bird," Henry says.
Several curent designs on silk crepe de chine, cotton batiste or lightweight challis are based on art history. Her Chinese horses were inspired by the bronzes of the Eastern Han dynasty, the Cretan dolphins from Minoan art and the griffins from Greek mythology.
Encouraged by scarf orders from stores like Henri Bendel, Lord & Taylor and Sals Fifth Avenue, Henry has developed a small line of clothes, all very simple, to show off the fabric. A wrap happi coat, a sarong, a blouson or butterfly sleve top, drawstring pants are among them. All are soft and loose, sized small; medium and large. (Exit and Garfinckel's carry the designslocally.)