05 June 2017
Lets preference this with I am not a couture designer. I can honestly say I’ve never even thought about a couture gown….not one of my own anyway. (I’ve definitely creeped Met Gala photos and thought, oh hellz no….obviously) I applied to this design challenge after the competition had already started. I expected the “thank you so much for your interest, we’ll put you on the mailing list” email.
I didn’t get that email.
I woke up one morning and before my first cup of coffee began scrolling through my email. Let me tell you, I jumped up real fast after seeing an acceptance letter from Montpellier Fashion and RISE. (For those of you who don’t know…cough* MUM cough* RISE is the eco-runway of the year. BIG DEAL) Now I had a week less then every other designer and a week to make a couture piece. Oh, and I needed to somehow get seven meters of fabric from Toronto to Ottawa. No big deal.
*Please note I have not been fired from my day job (yet) and I had committed to a vendor’s agreement…which i couldn’t get out of. SO basically. I’m an idiot.
Why did I take on this task you may ask? Well. Besides never being good at saying no to an amazing opportunity, I was actually really excited about it. I wanted the opportunity to really push my boundaries and see what I could do. Would I do it again? Yes. Would I try and do it while also working two jobs? Maybe.
That first night I spent the night with a sketchbook in my lap, my hand furiously going across the page. I had a few that I liked, that would be considered couture, but I had no idea where to start when it came to patterning those. I mean, I could figure it out. But not by hand and not in a week. NEXT. It was a few pages later in my sketch book that I realized I was making my life so much harder then it needed to be. Why was I designing a gown? No idea. I was trapped in this idea of couture. I started playing with the idea of a couture jacket. BAM. I am brilliant! …I mean, sorta. I have my moments.
My original design was to create a suit jacket collar and sleeve with the collar circling the models’ body (I had no model at this point I will remind you) with beautiful long fringe falling to around her knees. Imagine that movement when she strutted down the runway! I was then going to design a 20’s inspired flapper dress with a contrasting fringe. When she walked the two fringes would blend together creating this beautiful movement resembling rain when it hits the pavement and splashes up.
The fabric had it’s own ideas about what it wanted to do though. Fringe was not going to happen. As soon as I got the fabric I began frantically cutting half centimetre pieces of fringe and the pieces of the jacket. As I began sewing the fabric I began to realize something. This fabric frayed. Really bad. How was I supposed to finish all these tiny edges? I tried beeswax, another sustainable resource that I thought would coat the fabric and keep it together. It did do that. It also took away all movement at the same time. I began wrapping each piece of fringe in embroidery thread. Which ended up looking amazing. It gave the piece texture and maintained movement. That is until it got too heavy and began shredding itself. I would pick up pieces of the fringe that had detached itself. This was extremely frustrating and as the days drawing nearer I had no idea what I was going to do. Almost all of my black fabric was shredded and short of melting them back together I was out of ideas.
That’s when I got the call. The call saying I had an extra week. I also had a model. Things were looking up!
I had cut and overlocked my green materials for the dress, intending not to make the same mistake twice. The thicker strips made the dress look like it had tentacles. Given the water inspiration it might of worked but it would have been a HARD sell. What did I do? I cried a bit. I ate some ice cream with my mum who told me to get my act together and I brainstormed with my little brother. Don’t let that six food mechanic with constantly dirty hands fool you. The boy is a fashion genius. It’s not the first time that bouncing ideas off him has landed me with something workable. I began weaving the strips. I cut off the dreadlocks from my jacket and put the collar on my newly conceptualized dress. On to something now. I was able to stop crying.
With dress in hand, completely different then the dress I had originally conceptualized I was off to Toronto and the Aveda Salon. Even though the dress wasn’t what I had envisioned the transformation did turn out really well, all things considered. It was sexy, much more sexy then I would ever design in my branded collection and I was excited that I was able to transform the textile. The Aveda hair and makeup team took my concept and ran with it. They were able to create fantastic volume in the hair and a beautiful jewel tone smokey eye to bring out my model’s features in the best way. A day in the salon and we were off to the show!
Its always incredibly intimidating to look at what all the other designers have been able to do with this challenge, it’s also very inspiring. They were all great and watching the girls line up you get that little smile of being backstage. Theres an energy that circulates the room. The lights go out and backstage is silent. Thats when you hear the muffled music streaming in front the stage and the first girl begins her walk.
Then, fifteen minutes later, its over.
I didn’t win with my look, but I am so proud to have been a part of such an amazing cause. THREAD is a great company, supplying the world with fabric made of completely recycled water bottles. Supplying the people of Haiti and Honduras with jobs and working toward improving their overall quality of life. All of the proceeds from RISE was donated to WaterAid Canada, who's mission is to bring clean drinking water to many countries who still don’t have this most basic amenity.
22 January 2017
Am I too young to runaway and bartend on a beach somewhere? No…I don’t have the body for it, but with this whole trend of “embrace your curves” it might not make that much of a difference. I hate the beach though, too much sand….sun kind of also annoys me. I wonder if they still need personal assistants in New York. I rather like that idea of running around the city like Anne Hathaway, piping hot Starbucks burning my hands. The burning part is what I can only imagine hot coffee feeling like on your hands, with so many years of serving under my belt and the use of industrial irons I don’t think my hands can actually burn anymore…mind you I might not want/be able to move to New York for at least the next four years. Paris is beautiful in all it’s gloominess, although been there and done that. The tourists will start to pour in too for Valentines Day and that’s just the WORST. I’m starting to run out of places I’d like to runaway to. With deadlines fast approaching and people asking me about my “next steps” it always seems easier to want to be a reck-loose and create a profession out selling cars in Tokyo (that scenario has a whole realm of issues). Running a small independent business is not some walk in the park here. With a runway show a week away and fittings happening every day it can be a little overwhelming. I mean, I ate half a jar of Nutella today (after my sewing was done and I practically couldn’t see straight) which is not helping my whole beach bod thing, but I think I’ve nixed that idea for a while. Serving screaming idiots on the beach is suddenly becoming less and less appealing as March break looms near.
Fashion really is truly amazing though. Last week I had a rack full of clothes that I had taken an active role in making, hated all of them. This week, I put them on people and suddenly they transform. They look amazing on the human form and I could never think of another job that would make me this excited. Of course now I want to add and embellish all of them. Don’t you all worry, I’m staying well away from my sequins. I have a friend who knows my love-to-hate relationship with sequins and I’m sure she’s still finding them in her apartment.
My only task this week? Keep my head on straight…or at least on. Finish any and all alterations. Breathe. Post pictures. Why? Cause Saturday people! Saturday is when the clothes hit the catwalk and no matter what they will be done! Exciting, nerve wracking, that’s what fashion is right?
01 December 2016
IT’S DECEMBER…WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? See what happens when you own your own business and your mind runs a million miles a minute? Yeah, time literally flies away and the last time you checked you were getting dressed up for Halloween.
What’s been eating up my time you ask? I mean…you didn’t, but if you keep reading I’m going to assume that you did…in your head. I’m in a pop-up shop! If you’re in Ottawa come down to Little Italy and check us out!!!! The Freewheeling Craft community has been so good to me with including me and my product in the pop-up shop and the Craft Show happening THIS WEEKEND! (Dec 3-4) I’m so excited, but it’s been a hectic month prepping for it. Check out Country Meets City too! They did their own photoshoot with a few of my new pieces? Looking pretty amazing if you ask me, of course I’m bias though.
What else has been eating away at my sleeping schedule? Prepping for a return to Her Campus’s Capital Catwalk. Model casting is done and I have a surprise for you all in the new year. Tickets for that go on sale soon (will keep you updated).
SO all in all pretty darn busy sewing pattern-making and overall trying not to lose my mind. It’s always a bit more fun though losing your mind. As long as you find it again it’s all good.
19 November 2016
Now, on to more important things. As you can probably guess, I’m somewhat of a perfectionist (I know, weird.) so events like the photoshoot that happened today I really have to watch myself and take a step back. It’s always so important to remember that even with your own brand you are working with artists. Artists who know what they are doing! Which should be why you hired them in the first place.
The way I like to structure my photoshoots is by giving a very basic outline of what I want to accomplish, show some images of what I’m looking for then tell the artist I’m working with to go nuts. Why would I spend all this time and money looking for a talented person to work with if I then put them in handcuffs?? Makes no sense right? The result? AMAZING. I love seeing my clothes come to life on a girl who just genuinely loves what she does, captured by an artist who loves what she does all sewn together by yours truly. Anyone who works in, I was going to say a creative field but I’m going to go ahead and say any field at all, has to work in a team and when that team works together is when we see the best results.
Now I know everyone thinks fashion is super competitive, which it is, full of backstabbing horrible people, which is also true, but it’s like any profession, you can find bad people and you can find good. If you have a good read of who you work well with then work with those people, collaborate with those people. One thing I’m starting to realize is that you can’t do everything alone. I mean, its annoying and I wish everyday I had the superpower to clone….epic, you know how much I could get done!? A lot. However, since I can’t clone (yet) working with good people seems to be a good alternative. For instance, check out the makeup on this beauty done by SondraG (@songdrag.mua) Keirstin modelling and photos by Emily! All amazing women to work with and such amazing talents.
…this came out as more of a “lets work together rant” sorry about that. It really does grind my gears when people don’t realize the support they have around them. Use it or don’t, but you can’t say that we’re not there, you do have to ask though. So ask! We’re not scary….I mean, when I learn how to clone myself I will be, because there will be fifty of me. Until then though, ya’ll good.
06 November 2016
Everyone knows what I'm talking about, when I say the "Glamorous side of fashion" Yeah, we're talking about the lights, camera, cocktails and heals so high that you're sure that if these girls were to trip their ankles would break.
The truth is, well my truth is, that these events stress me out. In runways you've got months of prep for ten minutes of models walking down a runway. Which by the way, if they do trip and break their ankle it is NOT good publicity for me. Attending someone else's runway? Fighting jealousy, ripping those tights you're trying to put on (because you may or may not have spent the entire morning behind your own sewing machine) so trying to look good, promoting yourself but also being respectful to the designer showcasing their work.... breathe. Keep in mind you're a designer, so naturally you're looking and thinking of all the things that you would change. Don't tell me you don't do that. We all do it, so shush. All of this adds up to a lot to think about, which is why cocktails are usually involved. Oh and don't forget about that very well thought out Instagram post that must formulate durning this event. I mean you spent all this time getting ready and going to the event the world may as well know it right? Otherwise it's like it didn't happen at all.
This weekend's event, Canadian Fashion Weekend, featured a young designer, Emina Fae, a recent graduate from Richard Robinson showcased her collection of light coloured neutral day and evening-wear. The picture here shows a bit of her collection, photo taken by local Ottawa photographer Paul Lauzon.
The design process, for me anyway, is the best part of starting a new collection. I mean, yes you get frustrated and I may or may not have scratched out more designs then I can count…may have thrown a sketchbook across the room a few times and it may have happened like once where I set some terrible sketches on fire. No one can prove that though so don’t judge, they just needed to go. I’ll let you decide if I’m kidding or not.
It’s at this point though that you can really send your mind wandering. You can draw anything you want, as crazy or as simple as you want and none of it can be wrong. That comes in the construction part of the design process, being wrong….a lot. Also it’s that moment where you’ve done a sketch in a matter of minutes and people think your Picasso. Epic. I love it when people boost my ego.
Setting the scene:
Me, with all my crazy limbs, are sprawled over an armchair, sketchbook is in my lap being held up by my knees that are swinging off one side of the armchair. I am armed with (a very large) coffee, pencils and music is playing. I do not move out of this position until my back starts killing me and there are sketches scattered all over the ground. That friends, is how my spring collection has started.
Now keep in mind, these sketches will lead to more sketches which will then lead to more, until I have a cohesive collection of about ten to twelve looks. You always want to think about a million things when you begin your design process. Who are you selling to? Who is your customer? Have you seen it before? If the answer is yes then how and why is yours better? Will the designs suit only one body type? What fabric are we thinking? It seems like a lot when you write it down but at some point your mind just goes and you just draw.
Getting into my studio all of these designs go up on my wall, using a tape that will not ruin the paint (mom, be happy) and then we start the pattern-making portion of the design process. AKA: How do I put this together?
20 October 2016
It seems like every week this month something is happening in the fashion world...I mean, it could be because every weekend something is happening in the fashion world. I'm not really sure, I do now that I am loving every second of it. One of the best parts of my job this week is getting to see my clothes styled by Katie at YOW City Style in preparation for this week's Freewheeling Indie Craft Show happening on Saturday October 22 from 10-4 at Makerspace North!
The rest of this week is obviously hiding in my studio behind a sewing machine but that's also one of the best parts of my job. Hiding from people and getting to do my thing.
Loving the way our Kaleigh Dress has been styled here with a leather back and choker by Galili Ellis, all handmade! See I'm just saying, that we're kind of talented up here in Canada.
Chantal is wearing our Brittany Jacket with a tunic by Blondie Apparel, bracelets by Historical links and a necklace by Strut Jewelry.
Loving our Kels skirt here...but thats coming soon with the rest of our Fall Line!
11 October 2016
Craft shows and Freak outs….I need coffee.
The first thought that ran through my mind at the beginning of the weekend. Usually when there’s a craft show I go through the standard:
Week before the show: Excitement, preparation, sewing, nothing really pressing on my mind.
Day before the show: Mass freak out. Do I have enough stuff? Should I stay awake until four in the morning finishing that hem? But I mean, it would look weird if I’m missing one of those skirts. The entire day WILL be a waste if I don’t have that skirt….totally worth not sleeping. I must have that skirt.
Day of the show: Need all the coffee in the world. (Friends and family know better then to come visit me without a massive Starbucks cup in their hand…for me.) Set up is done, could be better. Why didn’t I get the bigger free standing mirror? I should have brought more clothes. Why does everyone else’s stuff look better then mine?! All the while twirling around in my Cindy skirt and pacing.
Two hours into show: How did I think this was a good idea? This was a terrible idea. (Still not a single soul had walked through those doors) I should just be a full time server. I mean I’m good at serving, then I could become a manager. I mean who doesn’t want to be a restaurant manager? Maybe I should go back to school… Creative field sucks, why did I think I could do this?!??!?!
Random woman: Oh my God I love your clothes! I’ll grab this one, it’s absolutely beautiful.
Random woman bought that dress she “couldn’t live without.”
How could I ever give this up?
23 August 2016
Fashion fest has come to an end and getting ready to bus back to Ottawa (I'm just that glamorous I know.) I had to figure out how on earth I was going to carry three huge bags of fabric that I couldn't live without...We'll put that into the category of more things I don't think about, an over filled backpack, and still lacking an ability to speak French. The last one was only really an issue with the Uber driver I used to get to the bus station. All worked out though! I mean, I did knock over a table while trying to lift my bags...but we don't talk about that.
My mind has been filled over the past few days in Montreal, probably even more then my bags. Talking to some of these vendors at the fashion pop-up shops have been both extremely intimidating, says me who's six foot and already intimidating, and inspiring. Some of these shop owners are in their first year of business! ...ok. So that part makes me want to hide under a rock, but it also gives me hope of what I can achieve in a year. If I work hard, which I'm sure my best friend will be on me if I don't. The conferences I was lucky enough to attend all showed examples of amazingly talented people who were given a chance and were not afraid to follow their dreams. (If all else fails I might have a calling to write sappy inspirational quotes. Hallmark? Hiring!?)
23 August 2016