Mainly due to its abundance of amazing designers, Montreal has long held up as our country’s city of fashion & creativity. It has grown to be Canada’s fruit of passion, and is one of the best places in which we can take a large bite of shopping.
Being the head designer of the lines Blank and VOYOU, Lise-Marie Cayer is at the core of Montreal fashion. Sewing since the age of five and having studied in clothing design, this designer has a passion for hard work; and thank goodness because she says all that time designing happens to be the easiest part of her job. It would appear that while we are at the center of fashion`s creativity, the “production part” of producing a clothing line is what makes being a designer so difficult.
Lise-Marie designs two lines complementing each other in colour and fabrics. Blank is her “American Apparel” style line; aka simple and everyday basics. This line is what allows her to finance her second and more “designer” line, VOYOU. Since there are fewer and fewer local production warehouses, it becomes difficult to produce smaller, yet more designer-like, lines. A clothing line like Blank creates an opportunity for bulk production, giving the designer the opening she needs to produce in-house and to use her warehouse to build her second line. Summary: by taking on producer and managerial tasks alongside her responsibilities as a designer, this smart lady grasps the chance to create a line that truly fits her standard of fashion.
When coming up with a new seasonal collection, Lise-Marie first works on her nifty line, VOYOU. From there, she builds the Blank collection so as to better fill in and compliment her primary line. While her signature style has always been structural, she pushes for pieces that are as comfortable as they are chic. Her cuts are timeless, and she adds sass to her assembles with a smattering of pockets and buttons.
When asked about her personal style, the Montreal designer explained that she would only design what she herself would feel comfortable wearing. She feels that being stylish can also mean being practical. It’s very important that her designs reflect a certain authenticity and well-being in their wearers; values that Lise-Marie holds dear to her heart.
Canadian Fashion plays an intricate part in Lise-Marie’s career. She describes our nation’s fashion as being “very unique, and inspired by its people.” A couple of her favorite Canadian designers are Harricana`s Mariouche Gagné, Cokluch`s Laurie Lemieux as well as Christine Guérin, Jennifer Glascow and Isola`s Marie-Claude Marquis (to name a few)!
During our interview, I couldn’t help but pick a bit at the designer`s brain, with a couple of quick-impulse questions:
BSF: Fave piece in your closet?
MLC: Sweaters! I’m a “funky-sweater” type of gal!
BSF: Heels or flats?
BSF: Spring or Fall Fashion?
BSF: Best accessory for SS13?
MLC: A braided jersey or cotton belt.
BSF: Best trend for SS13?
MLC: A dress with the hem shorter in the front and longer in the back. Very sexy, while still staying chic.
Lise-Marie is a driven lady with a beautiful future ahead of her. Next up she will be adding more dynamic applications to a new online store so as to better communicate with her those interested in her work. It’s very important to this Montreal designer that she keep a close relationship with her clients, as they have been her biggest supporters and have played a large part in her great success these past years.
Gatineau designer Elise Bourque may be an up-and-coming designer, but her collection pieces could fool anyone into believing she’s been selling her clothes for years. Learning to sew in her mid-teens with the help of her sewing-teacher mom, Elise caught the designing bug early on, and knew right then and there, that designing would be her calling.
“I would make my own tops and skirts for school” says the young designer. “People would ask me: Where did you get that shirt? And I would love replying: I made it myself!” There was no struggle when it came down to choosing which path she was going to take. Elise attended
Lasalle College before taking on her dreams full force. She's now being represented by ADMG.
Her collections have always been a reflection of her personal style seeing as day to day routines don’t really let her wear what she would truly love, she creates what she would envision herself wearing if circumstances were different. Elise gets inspired by the looks she finds on fashion blogs and twists those street trends into her collections. She best describes her style
as urban neutrals, with a pop of crazy color.
To most accurately define would be to say that it's very unique and distinctive, but at the same time, comfortable and convenient.
Elise designs for the true Canadian, letting you stay warm and cozy, able to move around no matter the weather outside and be fashionable all at once. Her signature cuts are what truly make the francophone designer stand out
Taking inspirations from well-known designers such as Alexandre Wang and fellow Canadians Dsquared, Elise wants to bring the same fun-loving and super high quality to her own collections. She believes that “Colours change all the time, but a good fit will never change!” And a good fit also helps when you have the best of the best materials. “If you’re not using the real thing, it looks cheap” states Miss Bourque. And having shown during the three last seasons at Ottawa Fashion Week, as well as the Mercedes Benz Start Up SS13, it’s no wonder this designer knows what she’s talking about.
Having had the pleasure of personally working with this designer, her drive and talent is unprecedented. It won’t be long before Elise Bourque will be a Canadian household name, and a brand sported on many of our winter coats!
The Black Sheep Fashion
Since its launch in fall 2011, the Twisted Sisters collection has been busy traveling the world and showcasing its Canadian pieces in London, Munich, Copenhagen, New York, Hong Kong and Montreal. Although the line is still young, its couture appears wiser than its years, with sophisticated lines and confident cuts.
The designer behind the Twisted Sisters line, Maria Mak, is very proud of the major steps the line has taken in so little time. A graduate from Ryerson University, Maria was always the one to watch as she was constantly up for a challenge and loved a little risk! Twisted Sisters has already been featured in BODY Magazine, Shedoesthecity.com, Faszion.com, Chictopia, Zink Magazine and Bellabellaboutique.blogspot.ca. Growing to one day be a lifestyle brand, Maria’s graphic silhouettes and clever tailoring add a playful spin to her designs; a beautiful mix where haute couture meets urban style.
The Twisted Sisters site currently displays their Ready-to-Wear line (F/W & S/S), as well as a gorgeous and quite luxurious looking lingerie line. Maria says that “[…] every woman has the potential to be beautiful […] she just needs to feel good on the inside and she will look beautiful on the outside.” This is the exact reason why Twisted Sisters’ motto is show the world from inside out. Every one of the line’s pieces has a little something special about it; a twist, if you wish.
Maria’s RTW F/W 12 line was inspired by architecture: pleats, tucks and angular shapes take precedence throughout the collection, with pops of jewel blue and mauve contrasting against the black, grey and white pallet.
As for S/S 13, Maria went out of her comfort zone: “I was inspired by ice-cream sherbet!” The assortment of vivacious colours, with happy yellows, greens, oranges, pinks and turquoise, gives off a playful air—so refreshingly cool for those sexy hot summers.
The Toronto designer gives thanks to her Canadian Fashion Network: “They are so appreciative and supportive of emerging designers!” We cannot wait to continue seeing Maria Mak’s Twisted Sister collection flourish—keep up with this Canadian designer via Facebook, Twitter and their Blog.
Twisted Sisters Designer Maria Mak
Creative Director Jessica Holloway
This upcoming season's fashion can be perfectly described by one action: raiding your grandmother's closet!
Just as they will soon adorn our trees and landscape, wine-burgundy, burnt mustard and emerald green colours graced our fall runways.
This particular turn of season produces one of the greatest transformations in our appearance. It's that chance to start over or try something new. However you see it, this is the season where we Fashionistas take the most risk! It's the equivalent to a fashion "New Year's resolution". While the standard "New Year" is mundanely typified with an increased demand for Gym passes, this particular New Year is immersed in inspiration and an undeniable charming quality walking about the city streets.
With velvet, fur and leather trims accentuating our fall colours, this 1940s style now exudes a bit of "bourgeoisie"—we go back to a time when the richness of the outfit was in the textures, the fabric, and the fit; the era's "make do and mend" mentality.
Be it raiding your grandmother's closet, or shopping at your fave boutique, I believe I speak for all when I say that fall is the most anticipated season in our Fashion Year!
When one thinks of Ottawa, fashion isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. But Viens avec moi boutique.has beaten the odds and made a name for herself as a swimsuit designer in this governmental city. What started with making a couple of designs for a friend’s charity competition ended up turning into a greater venture into the unknown. In less than 2 years, Amber has started up her own company, launched her self-titled swim line, shown at Ottawa Fashion Week, has been published in The Ottawa Sun, Ef Magazine, Ottawa Citizen, PRESS the Fashion Magazine, Ottawa’s own Pop Champagne blog, Canadian-Fashion.ca, and Ottawa Life Magazine, as well as won Fave Fashion Designer at the past FACES SIG awards and had her line sold exclusively at the
The twenty-eight year old Peterborough native gives thanks to her friends, Ottawa’s fashion industry and a little luck. “One thing that’s neat about starting off in Ottawa is the fact that they’re more willing to take a chance on supporting local artists.” Seeing as our National Capital’s Fashion industry is a rather small one (in comparison to Montreal and Toronto), the odds were in favour of the designer; and being a swimwear designer did help her stand out. While branding tools such as Facebook and Twitter are still staples in her marketing plan, Amber’s success is in large part thanks to word of mouth. Her frank personality has made it easier for her to meet vital industry contacts, who in turn have helped her trudge through the deep, treacherous jungle of fashion. While some of her connections helped her with the marketing and branding of her line, others gave her a hand in the sewing, pattern making and manufacturing procedures. In other words, fortuitous collaboration matched with a lot of hard work and learning experience are what contributed the most to Amber’s last year.
A few behind the scenes facts lend a special twist to her beautiful line: every step in Amber’s production line is done here in Canada. This is key to maintaining her hands-on approach, and is also a factor that remains close to the designer’s heart. You see, Amber Watkins is a self-taught designer! And while her educational background has made for an excellent foundation, it’s the people she’s met in the last couple of years, as well as her tendency to say “yes” to every given opportunity, that have propelled her onto the Canadian Fashion Platform.
Amber Watkin’s latest swimwear line is a vivacious mix of modern and vintage, which is a representation of her own taste. She began by choosing a gorgeous sapphire-coloured fabric, and paired it with emerald green, ebony black and tangy tangerine colours. Its high-rise cut and sexy cut-outs make it so that the line appeals to a wide variety of clientele: the cuts follow the natural lines of a woman’s body, resulting in an all-around flattering look. Amber can still remember one of her clients gushing over the front cut-out suit: “It shows off my secret skinny spot!” (Meaning that it flaunts the upper abdomen area.)
Another important factor in Amber’s success is her relationships with her models. “They’re the ones who bring my line to life!” Her ability to bond almost immediately with models has led her not only to being assistant editor at PRESS the Fashion Magazine, but has also led her to designing fellow Peterborough native, Taylor Dumage’s Miss Teen Canada swimsuit.
So what’s to come for our dear designer? As featured designer, her line will be showcased at Ottawa’s upcoming “Ladies Who Lunch” event, and she will also be entering Toronto’s Fashion Incubator’s design competition, held this fall.
With that, we wish all the best to our fellow Canadian designer! With her fantastic attitude, warm personality, and high quality swimsuits, only big things are in her future!
Amber Watkins and Maciej Czop
This past week, I had the opportunity to sit down for a good Starbucks’ coffee with 20-year-old Mode Académie finalist, Arianne Mondion.
The 2012 Mode Académie contest held 22 contestants, from which 6 finalists were chosen judged purely on their designs. The contestants were asked to come up with a complete collection during their Christmas Holiday—in other words, they had to be quite determined! Arianne found out that she had made the final cut on the first week of February, 2012.
Ever since she was 8-years-old, Arianne loved drawing clothes. She finally ventured into sewing at the age of 12, though the clothes were more for her dolls than for herself! At the age of 15 she attended the Gala Gémeaux with her father, and donned her first real creation; and so began her love of designing.
(Arianne in her Gala Gémeaux creation)
Arianne's main influences are what she sees on the streets. She enjoys seeing how people mesh their own personal flare with the current commercial trends. When asked how she would describe her personal style, she replied quite frankly that she would wear anything from A-to-Z. In other words, on Monday we could catch her sporting an all-black outfit with tears in the pants and dark-burgundy lipstick, while on Tuesday she could veer more towards a whirlwind of pastel with flower accents. As best said by the designer, "I'm still brainstorming; trying to find my own style." As uncertain of her own personal style as she may presently be, she was quite swift to respond when asked who her designer of the hour was: “Salvatore Ferragamo!” (Nice choice, if I do say so myself.)
Her largest obstacle as a designer is the step between idea and fabric, or in her case, fabric and idea. Arianne explained how textures generally inspire her designs, but this can be a rather complicated road to take, seeing as certain compromises need to be considered for proper fitting. Despite this, it is an exigent route she is quite fond of taking.
The designer's next steps, after graduating from Cégep Marie-Victorin this September, 2012, will be to attend UQAM, where she will study Fashion Commercialization. Arianne wishes to one day call the shots—and she is already quite aware that the best way to be the boss is to know everything there is to know in the fashion market, be it choosing the right type of thread or picking the correct marketing plan.
(Arianne's final 2012 Mode Académie look)
Even though this finalist did not win this year’s Mode Académie contest, her pieces have been picked to walk the runway in this August's Montreal Fashion & Design Week; think chic English-equitation à la Kate Middleton. We are looking forward to the show!
Just before concluding our coffee-date, I couldn't help but ask Arianne a couple quick questions:
Favorite Accessories: Earrings! (Not too big on necklaces.)
Favorite Shoes: ANYTHING WITH A HEEL!
Your Dream Pair of Shoes: Christian Louboutin!
Designer's Dream: To study at the London College of Fashion, specifically to one day make shoes!
With that, we wish Arianne all the best with what promises to be a very bright future!
A fresh feel...
At the end of your week, you take a walk outside in the busy streets, filled with people chit-chatting and getting together to have a nice cold drink on a terrace. A cool breeze sweeps the hair off of your damp neck, and the sun invites the vendors to bring their cute pieces out on the sidewalk. The street is buzzing with the freshness that is a Friday summer evening.
You join your friends on the terrace, and while waiting for your glass of sangria, you scan around for the local styles. It's quite interesting to see how some can match the most wicked styles together, and make it work. Yes, you have your typical sporty girl (havana flip flops, jean short-shorts, a solid bright colored tube top, and the perfect messy bun, with a bit of mascara). And you'll also have your bling-bling girl (large Guess purse, black skinny jeans, hot pink top, tight & long straight ponytail, and a whole lot of bronzer and eyeliner to balance out the larger-than life hoop earrings). Lest we forget the Hippy girl (dreads, no make up, a piercing through her lower lip, the long patchy side-purse, earth-green halter top and brown knee length khaki bottoms)...Just to name a few of the typical looks that we can always spot whilst sipping on your cool drink.
However, what I would consider my "catch-of-the-day", is when I am lucky enough to spot the people who really decide to venture into something new: who dare to go where nobody has gone before! It's bizarre, but when it comes to describing what their wearing, your tongue sort of gets tied: You can only remember this feeling of awe, rather than a detailed report of their outfit.
THAT, my friends, is truly a fresh look!
As Canadian Fashionistas, we have the opportunity of being surrounded by some very diverse fashion. It can sometimes become difficult to decide which ones to go for. Out West in British Columbia, you get a laid back feel combined with environmentally friendly materials and super cool surfer/snowboarder looks. Alberta brings us a stampede of country looks and nature inspired pieces. In Central Canada, no one pulls off frigid-winter & scorching-summer looks better than our Manitobans and Saskatchaweans, with their “I can deal with anything” adaptable fashions, stretching from puffed parkas to vintage summer dresses. Ontario means business by keeping things sleek and modern, whilst their neighbour, Quebec, breaks the mold anyway they can. The Maritimes invented the fashionable rain boots and inspire the Canadian version of the “nautical” look. Let’s not forgot the Northern Territories with their raw energy and mystery, as well as great fur trimmed garments.
All in all, no matter where you go in our fabulous country, there is a new style to try on for size. And with the recent season change, what better time to shed your old look and peek at the many choices Canada has to offer.