Having acquired a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Education prior to coming to Ryerson, what motivated you to go into fashion design?
I have always loved fashion, even from a very young age. I have been sewing since I was 9 years old. After teaching professionally for a little while, I realized my true passion was in making clothing. There were no good fashion programs in Winnipeg, so I didn’t see it as an option until I was a bit older. I applied for Ryerson, and hoped for the best. I told myself if I got in, then it was a sign that I was supposed to be doing this. When I received the acceptance letter from Ryerson, I knew it was the right path for me.
You’ve accomplished so much during your Ryerson career, what experience was been the most defining for you and why?
Helping to organize Tambour Beading and Embroidery workshops at Ryerson has been a big achievement. Tambour style beading and embroidery uses fabric stretched over a frame, and a hook that grabs the beads and threads, filling in the designs as you work along. It’s a traditional technique, and very rare, especially in North America. I was trying to teach myself how to do it, but it was proving too difficult on my own. I went online and found a man named Robert Haven from the University of Kentucky. He had been teaching tambour in North America ever since he apprenticed at the Lesage school in Paris. When I told him about my interest in learning the tambour, he suggested that I gather some students together and he would come to Toronto to teach the course. It was such a success that he has continued to come back to Ryerson twice a year for the past three years. It has proven to be a very rewarding skill, as I have used the technique to blend my artistic and fashion talents, creating interesting images not often seen in traditional embroidery.
What did you learn from your experience at Joe Fresh and Jeremy Laing?
Having interned at these brands has given me two very different experiences in how Canadian fashion companies are run. Jeremy Laing offered me an inside perspective on how high-end, designer clothing is made in smaller production runs. We were able to see the entire design process, from conception and design, to pattern drafting, sewing, and shipping off to stores. It was very hands on. Joe Fresh was vastly different in that production is done is very large quantities, often on the other side of the world. It was a great experience working in a fashion office like Joe Fresh, and it has prepared me well for a career in fashion.
You entitled your capsule collection “Paper”. Can you explain the meaning behind the collection name?
As an artist I use paper all the time. It’s a medium for which to place my ideas, and create new ideas. I wanted to translate the idea of paper as a means for communication through my garments. I like to challenge the limits of what is considered wearable, and I often seek out unique fabrics to use in a surprising and unexpected way. For my collection I chose papery looking fabrics to symbolize practicality of use, and I incorporated tambour embroidered hands onto the garments, as if they were doodled on.
What are you up to in Montreal now that you’ve graduated?
I was very lucky to land a job designing womenswear for Le Chateau. I get the chance to analyse trends, sketch up garment ideas, create colour stories, and watch collections come to life. It’s such an excellent experience. Montreal is very receptive to the creative arts, and there is a lot of support from the community. I would definitely recommend it to anyone graduating from Ryerson Fashion Design. There is a good balance of independent designers and large fashion brands here in Montreal, while still remaining very affordable to live.