Laura Fisher

Minerva, perhaps best known as the goddess of wisdom, is more broadly the goddess of skill, a category that encompasses knowledge, strategy, and craft. She is patroness of men in war, but also of women in sewing. In Mythology, Minerva springs forth into the world from the head of the sky god Jupiter, fully clad in her armor. She carries her spear with her always.

On a sunny winter day in Bozeman, I arrived for one of my first shifts at Laura Fisher’s RevivALL Clothing Shop. I walked through the door into a flurry of red—red fabric covered the cutting boards, red scraps littered the floor, pattern pieces were draped over the sewing machines, and Laura herself was wrapped in a long, thick skirt of the same red plaid.

 “I had a video get 100k views online,” Laura explained, tucking a pen behind her ear. She’d paired her skirt with one of her beige thermal crops made from recycled army shirts and a dainty black scarf. “So we have a bunch of these skirts to make today.”

The skirts are made of deadstock wool—industry “leftovers,” or fabric that the original buyer (in this case, L.L.Bean) discarded. At RevivALL, Laura purchases deadstock fabrics from warehouses in Minneapolis and Los Angeles and gives them another chance to be a finished garment in the fashion industry. In the wake of this sudden influx of orders,Laura’s operations manager, Twila, and I spent the afternoon prepping fabric for the skirts. It took the both of us to lift the heavy bolts of wool up onto the cutting board, roll it out, measure, and cut. Twila cut the fabric about halfway before passing the scissors across the table to me to finish. Then, we sent the fabric cuts off to our manufacturers, Carol and Barbara, to sew. That night, I visited Laura’s Instagram page to watch the reel that had sold so many skirts. “The secret to staying warm in the winter is…” Laura had captioned the video, “Wear a wool blanket.”

“The utility of a skirt has been lost completely [on modern women],” Laura said. In the winter, Laura wears long skirts with layers underneath to stay warm, and in the summer, she wears drafty skirts to stay cool. She wears skirts on her farm inBozeman while she feeds the horses, while she cross country skis, when she goes camping, when she travels. She finds she is more comfortable in a skirt than in pants, she has more fluidity of motion. “We see skirts now as something to wear when you’re dressing up. But I see it as apiece that I wear for function. I always say the women of the wild west did everything that the men did, except they did it in a skirt.”

Along with skirts, Laura makes overalls, jumpers, dresses, and shirts. Some of the clothes are made in-house, and some of them are made by seamstresses in Montana and Oregon. All clothes are made in the USA, all clothes are made from recycled fabrics, and all clothes are designed by Laura.

Laura’s designs could be described as western, vintage-inspired, and feminine. They are simple, yet incredibly unique. Laura recently took a trip to LA, an emerging fashion capital, and received compliments on her outfits at nearly every turn. “This is amazing,” one girl said of Laura’s long lace petticoat. “I have never seen this before.”For some reason, the back-to-basics feminine attire is almost entirely overlooked in modern fashion, though it’s yearned for. Laura began designing and making her own clothes in the first place because she had trouble finding the clothes that she liked to wear.

“I want to offer garments you can work in that are also feminine,” Laura said. “Women say to me all the time, I don't usually wear dresses but I would wear your stuff. There's something that speaks to women—it’s the empowerment piece of my design.”

Laura recounted how she dressed for her first job after college at AT&T Wireless. As a young woman she hadn’t yet found her personal style, so she bought herself a few suits that she could wear to work—pants and blazers.

“I thought I was dressing corporate America,” Laura said. “But the men I worked with, the attention I received from them was awful. They didn’t take me seriously, and I couldn't understand why because I wasn’t dressing inappropriately.”

It took her years to understand that it doesn’t matter if she dresses like her male coworkers to try to fit in, it won’t do her any favors or garner her much respect. The good thing is that her awful year working at AT&T pushed Laura to pursue her passion and attend fashion school. But experiences like that hardened Laura, temporarily, to the world. She felt a pressure to dress and act like a man to succeed. She felt that because she was small, she had to somehow prove that she was powerful. For years, she even carried a knife with her in her belt, before she discovered the protection she needed all along was her femininity. When she realized that, she also realized her personal style.

“[When I dress and act feminine], I feel like the most empowered version of myself,” Laura said.“I have so much more power as a soft being, and I still do stand up for myself and I do create firm boundaries. It’s powerful to be feminine, it’s magnetic. What’s that saying? You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. A feminine power is about drawing in towards. It’s not a force that has to be exerted.”

And so at RevivALL, Laura designs feminine clothes for the willful, working women of the wild west. She designs clothes that tap into the divine feminine in all of us.Clothes that will keep us warm and safe and powerful. Skirts with pockets for us to carry our tools, and pleats for running and jumping and playing, and length for modesty and comfort. Laura’s skirts are the same skirts women have always worn, that a woman once used for grasping the hot handles of pans on the stove, for carrying apples or eggs or corn from the farm to the kitchen, for spinning on a dance floor, with all of those colors and ruffles and lace fanning out around her.