Friends and family memorialized Amy Louise Chambers on Jan. 3 on what would have been her 50th birthday. Known better in her San Francisco community as Silver Lucy, she was both unique as an individual, yet familiar to any artist who has come to the City by the Bay for inspiration.
A beacon for dreamers, creatives and outcasts, San Francisco was an inspiration for Silver’s fashion and design work, the closest thing to Europe she could find in the states, and a place where she could be herself. Like so many others who came looking to thrive as artists, The City posed common challenges: high rent, burnout from working multiple jobs, and the closing of many artist spaces.
Those who stayed in the Bay found communities built on love. Silver lived and died on that loving path with the support of a community that not only helped her live, but also to die in peace after a terrible struggle with ovarian cancer.
On Sunday, mourners laughed, cried and danced at her virtual after party, unable to gather because of COVID-19, but with love shining through as stories poured in.
She was born in Springfield, Mass. on Jan 3, 1971, to loving parents Paul and Melody Chambers. It was clear at an early age that Amy could create beauty in the physical world around her. In 1990, she graduated from Forest Lake Academy, Fla., where her spark for fashion design caught flame.
“Recognizing her talents and interests, I showed her how to alter patterns,” said teacher Sharon Russell. “This meant she was allowed to do what she felt inspired to do, rather than rigidly following the lines of a pattern. Right then, she began formulating her own designs.”
Amy went on to achieve a Bachelor of Technology at Andrews University with a customized emphasis in fashion design and studied abroad in Collonges-sous-Saleve where she became fluent and fell in love with all things French. She began her career as a graphic designer in Washington D.C., working for The U.S. conference of Mayors.
It wasn’t until 2000 when she realized her dream of moving to San Francisco. Like so many in that last boom era, Silver met lifelong friends standing in lines while apartment hunting.
Always original, she created a name for herself, literally and figuratively, as “Silver Lucy.” Her brand, Silver Lucy Design ranged from trend-setting underground festival wear, sophisticated runway looks and signature outerwear. Silver had the gift of giving others the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone through style and color. She shared her craft not only through clothing design, but also by teaching knitting classes, making unique art and jewelry, and showcasing her prowess in styling, staging and transforming interiors with custom murals under yet another pseudonym, Lucy d’Argent.
Blending her art with a passion for philanthropy, Lucy was a cornerstone designer and 11-year volunteer for Beats for Boobs, an annual fashion gala that raised more than $300,000 promoting breast cancer awareness. Founder Juliana Cochnar said Silver Lucy Design was a reason the gala would sell out every year.
“Before rocking the runway, she would scan each model, hand-perfect small details and send them onstage with a loving butt pat and say, ‘Oh honey, you look perfect/sexy/fabulous! Get it, girl! Rock it, girl!’” Cochnar said. “Silver Lucy’s mission was to make everyone around her feel “beauty-full.”
Much of Silver’s art was influenced by Burning Man, where she first experienced its grandeur nearly two decades ago. Her pilgrimages to Black Rock City flavored her clothing designs. Along with owner Tamo Hulva, Rachel “RayRay” Riggin and other local designers, Silver Lucy’s fashion found a home at Wild Feather, a collective boutique in the Lower Haight.
Silver Lucy died peacefully on Oct 5, at her parents’ home in Highland, Calif. She was intelligent, a true beauty, a glamorous muse, a creator, a doer, a storyteller, a wordsmith, a quick-witted jokester, and a kind, generous spirit who shared her light while casting sparkles everywhere she went.
Amy “Silver Lucy” is survived by her parents, relatives and godchildren, and her beloved cat Bianca Leblanc.
Silver’s family thanks Barbara Sharp Melton, Mandy Doll (for traveling cross country to be with her best friend until the end), Magaly “Mamacita,” Terry Newmyer and her Bay Area community for their continued support.
The community is setting up The Silver Lucy Art Foundation, which will be dedicated to supporting female artists, despite the challenges that San Francisco presents. The organization will be accepting donations later in 2021; inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erin Dunkly and Silver Lucy’s friends and family contributed to this report.