Story by Lauren Chan
Photos provided by Abel Muñoz
Abel Muñoz is one of Canada’s most profitable shoe designers—and that’s no easy feat. (Pun intended.) Since his launch in 2007, Muñoz’s fashion forward shoes have appeared in prestigious publications around the world including Vogue Italia, Women’s Wear Daily, Style.com, Flare Magazine, Elle Canada, the Coveteur, and Fashion Television. They’re now carried in boutiques across Canada, South Korea, and in New York City…. But how did he do it? What did it take to become a shoe designer? Why does Muñoz put his (very marketable) creative effort into shoe design? We asked; he told.
You’ve grown to become a successful shoe designer in Canada, and perhaps it has to do with your elaborate experience and education in worldwide fashion. After being the art director and beauty editor at FQ Magazine, you studied at Sarah Rotering’s shoe studio in Toronto. Then you attended the ARS Arpel Institute of Shoe and Accessory Design in Milan. How did it all fall into place for you?
Being very inspired by fashion and having worked for five years in the [magazine] industry, I started to do some research on design. I always wanted to [design] and I always loved, loved, loved shoes. My friend’s dad had a shoe repair shop so I did some experimental work there. From there, I found Sarah’s studio, but unfortunately I was one of her last students. Then I went to Milan because Sarah’s was the only place to learn in Canada. If you want to learn how to design and make shoes, Italy is the place to be!
I never had the intention to stay in Italy—I just went to study. I always had the intention to come back to Canada.
How did your experience as the art director at Jeanne Beker’s FQ and SIR magazines shape you as a designer?
It was such a great magazine; it was so fun to do. I miss the world of magazines! But basically, I started as a graphic designer, and then I moved up to be an art director. Then they gave me the beauty pages, which were very successful and I became the beauty editor as well. Once you know this, you can see there is a lot of influence from graphic design and attention to detail in my shoes. A lot of people say there are many graphic elements.
What is your design process like? How does an idea develop in your head and end up on your shelves?
We learn to make a shoe from the ground up, so we think like that too. To be a shoe designer is very expensive! You need to have a studio, a very sophisticated venting system, and a team. As far as process goes…Sometimes an idea just triggers in my head and I doodle it, sketch it, or take quick notes. From there, I decide what materials I want to use, then what colours. My team is in Italy, so I send everything over there for production. I don’t travel there as much as I should. But Skype and e-mail make communicating with them easier when ideas change.
How and when do you tweak or evolve your company’s creative approach or production plan in order to keep your business booming?
That is extremely difficult to accomplish. I don’t even know if I am! I started in late 2007, and since then I’ve been very cautious [with my company]. I tell people who want to be fashion designers, ‘You have to have a business head on your shoulders!’ There’s not really a concise answer to this question. A lot of people also cave under the pressure of their suppliers or retail industry demands. They start going crazy and doing too much and spending too much money. Fashion is a business like any other.
On a more design-based note; what do you regard as your signature in design? How can someone tell the shoe has been designed by you?
I experiment with different shapes and silhouettes, but the ones you will see returning to the shelves over and over are based on comfort. Rather than a stylist saying, ‘It looks beautiful and the quality is amazing, but it’s not that comfortable,’ I want to get feedback from someone who says, ‘I want to get this style because it is extremely, extremely comfortable.’ I always keep the balance between beauty and comfort in mind.
For Spring/Summer 13, we love the Liberty, the Pieta and the Crista styles. They are so diverse in style and design, how do you meld so many different inspirations into one collection?
I definitely, definitely love Liberty. The Pieta is amazing and Crista is one of my favourites, too. They’re not too high, they’re comfortable. I have a different story in my head for every style and I can see them being successful in many places. See, I try to do a range of design. Some people think the range is too wide and it gets confusing with all the different styles. What they don’t know it that I’m trying to fill the range. I’m trying to cater to different women—not every person has the same taste.
Why should every woman invest in good shoes? How can they change her look when she slips them on?
For me, an entire outfit happens from the ground up—just like shoe design. I see so many women in amazing outfits, but if the shoes aren’t spectacular, you can’t see them miles away. If it’s a good, well-made shoe with a high fashion design it is attention grabbing. The shoe is as important an accessory as a bag. Women can feel great about having very well-made fashion footwear. They can be adventurous and fashion-forward…and comfortable!
WHERE: L’avenue Jean-Médecin, Nice, France
WHERE: St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), Venice
MODE NEWS// Adrian Wu 04/07/2012
Canadian designer, Adrian Wu is quickly becoming one of Toronto’s stand-out fashion stars. At just twenty-one years-old he has shown collections at Vancouver, Ottawa, and Toronto fashion weeks. Though he has begun to come into his own as an established designer, Wu started his career at eighteen years-old when he taught himself how to sew in his mother’s basement. As a dressmaker by trade, his designs are always extravagant, eye-catching, and challenging. He is able to accent the silhouette of a woman’s body, by using materials like upholstery to build volume into the skirts of his dresses; however, he is also an advocate of most things androgynous. Wu even had men model dresses in his Spring/Summer 2012 collection at LG Fashion Week. If you’re looking to stand out from the crowd at your next cocktail party, make an appointment at Adrian Wu.
Though female models have always been seen as the ethereal creatures of the fashion industry, they’re rapidly making breaks to become more than just pretty faces. The modeling industry has changed shape considerably since the turn of the twenty-first century, and now it’s simply not enough to have great bone structure and a small dress size. With the advent of social media, models have built personas with the ability to reign supreme in multiple fields like fashion design, music and entertainment. A select few have transformed into full-force moguls with numerous high profile endeavors on their resumés. As the fashion industry and the rest of the world become much more technologically apt, younger models with aspirations beyond modeling seem to be taking every opportunity they can scroll over and click on.
The Internet and all it’s glory (think: Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr) have made the lives of top models more accessible to the consumer in addition to making it easier for models to cease opportunities to advance their careers. Exhibit A: Coco Rocha. The insanely successful Canadian model has used the Internet to transform her name into marketable brand. When blogging became popular in 2008, Rocha noticed that many people were blogging about the fashion industry, but no one was blogging from inside of it. That’s where she stepped in. Using Blogger, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook Rocha has since been able to share her personality with an audience eager to hear what she has to say. She recalls it as unexpected, “To my surprise, my little amateur blog received a lot of attention from traditional fashion press and I had an audience interested to read my next few words rather than just see my next few pictures.”
Consumers and brands alike are interested in models that possess talent, have an opinion and are ultimately alluring. Though Rocha is one of the most in-demand high fashion models, she can credit her mass appeal to consumers to the down-to-earth personality that comes through in social media. “In social media authenticity is key. Some Twitter accounts that are so obviously written by public relations firms and it really backfires on them because the public is very savvy when it comes to smelling a phony. There are some things you can delegate, your voice is not one of them.” Thanks to the brand she has shaped herself into, Rocha has been able to work in realms outside of modeling. She’s, “started writing articles for major magazines like Elle UK, started [a] jewelry line with a charity called Senhoa, and produced [a] documentary about experiences with two orphanages in Haiti.”
Rocha’s agent, Micki Schneider, a model manager at Wilhelmina in New York City, will tell you that, “People have always been fascinated by models and fashion, but now they can reach out an touch their audience whenever and however they want to. In general, to get to the point of [being a household name], the girls’ personalities have to be very business savvy.” Schneider agrees that technology has made it possible for models to become moguls. “There’s always been an upper echelon of models—whether you call it a supermodel or a top model—but the difference between then and now is that the girls with the mogul-esque resumés are accessible via [social media]. If they have something to say people are out there to listen. Before technology existed as it does now, if they had something to say it was much harder to reach the audience that was interested.”
Jeanne Beker, the host of Fashion Television and author of Strutting It: The Grit Behind the Glamour can tell which models have an X-factor almost immediately. She notes, “When someone turns a camera on them backstage or I stick a microphone in their face, they have something to say for themselves.” Beker further explains that modeling may be short lived and serves as an opportunity to ceases further opportunities in a related industry.
The questions remains: Is it necessary to strive for brand name status as a model? Truthfully, no. Beker recognizes that there will always be models that act merely as placeholders, but the ones that are hard-wired for success hope to have a lasting presence in the industry. Rocha hopes her endeavors will add longevity to her career, as fashion can be fickle. In a moment of clarity, she notes that having social media as an outlet has forced her to think carefully about what she stands for and what she wants to represent—a factor many young models disregard. Moreover, she seems to have no option besides to climb to the top. “We have to be [multifaceted], the bar has been raised. You can’t just be a pretty face and expect to last more than two seasons. Personally, I want to try as many things as possible. I have all these avenues open to me so why wouldn’t I want to try a few?”
Lauren Chan October 21, 2011
If you’re an avid Premierlife reader, you’ve heard much about one of our favourite home-grown fashion designers, Adrian Wu. We nabbed interviews with the whimsical 21-year-old as he journeyed to “make it” in the Canadian fashion industry, and this week we talked to him about his growth over the past season. Wu’s Spring 2012 collection will be unveiled today at Toronto’s LG Fashion Week at his RSVP-only studio show. Though the week has been hectic for the young designer, we caught up with him while he was on his way to put finishing touches on his collection eight-inch, chiffon-wrapped heels. Yes, eight inches.
You’ve garnered so much press attention over the past season…on Global News, In Toronto, Toronto Standard, FASHION Magazine, Flare Magazine, Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto fashion weeks, etc. Do you think they’ve portrayed you accurately? If not, what are they missing? If so, what have they been on point about?
That’s a really good question! Now that I think of it, looking back at all the articles, I think to a degree, there’s definitely accuracy. There’s a lot of fact in what’s been said. Age is something that a lot of people bring up. I know of forget that I’m not in my 30s [laughs]. When I read this stuff, I need to remind myself that I’m still new at this and that I’m learning. I need to remind myself that there’s always room to learn. The only thing that isn’t being talked about it why exactly I’m different. I get that I’m standing out, but what about the logistics of it? Why am I different, you know? Let’s talk about the specifics of how my designs are different!
Why do you think your designs are different? What would you like to see the press say?
Well, I’ve gotten feedback from some of the respected individuals in the fashion industry that my clothes are simple in design but still have a sense of modernity. I would like people to see that I bridge the modern with the traditional. You’re a good person to talk to! You’re the one that said—in FASHION Magazine—that I do concentrate on the silhouette.
I’ll pat myself on the back for that one! Last time we talked, you said you had learned that the fashion industry is a lot more about business than you thought. Since then, are there any other important things you’ve learned about the industry, your work or yourself?
I’ve learned more so that it’s about that! More specifically, I’ve learned that it’s not just about business—oh my God, it’s about money. Let’s narrow it down and be realistic. I remember a friend telling me that maybe I’ve gotten so much attention because two things have been on your side: funding and vision. I’m not speaking from my point of view—someone else said this. But maybe Canadian designers generally lack funding and vision.
Speaking of vision, what’s your Spring 2012 collection about? Can you explain it to us?
The whole concept of the collection is based around quantum physics. I wanted to take a concept that hasn’t necessarily been done yet, while merging the philosophical idea of “Can art and science coexist?” I think that my collection is a symbolic representation of that. If you want to talk about specifics, it’s a lot of chiffon and lace. I’m also working with a fabric called boile. In French, it means veil. It’s the fabric usually used for veils.
You worked on editorials last year with photographer Daniel Hashemi. Aside from designing, what other projects have you been working on, if any?
My big project is that I’m opening a studio downtown Toronto at Bay and Dundas. It’s technically opening the afterparty of my show on Friday, October 21st! I’m moving there from Burlington.
Congrats! I know you’re close with fashion icons like Jeanne Beker, and that Jay Manuel is looking forward to meeting you this week. Who has really inspired or helped you out lately?
I’d say that Jeanne and I have been acquaintances, on more of a social level. I will say that I’m inspired by her story. A lot of people are inspired by her show, but I’ve read a lot of her books and watched a lot of her interviews, and I’m very inspired by how much hard work she’s done. Plain hard work in something that could be advocated a lot more!
And Wu is no stranger to hard work. We would say “hopefully” it pays off for him, but judging by his ever-growing label, that word is irrelevant. Stay tuned for a review of Wu’s Spring 2012 collection—and those heels!
Lauren Chan September 16, 2011
This afternoon, Western graduate turned fashion photographer and director, Justin Wu, released another of his famed high-profile-models-lip-synching-to-popular-songs videos. [Jump around in excitement]. While Wu had formerly collaborated with Tommy Ton’s Jak & Jil blog and Models.com, he has moved on to work with Jay-Z and his Life + Times magazine.
In his latest video, Wu films top models like Karlie Kloss (NEXT), Jourdan Dunn (Women), Selita Ebanks (Women), Constance Jablonski (Marilyn) and Daphne Groeneveld (Supreme) lip-synching to Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” throughout New York City. The film serves as the perfect ending note to a successful and inspirational Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. As New York Fashion Week can be an insanely hectic time for designers, models and media alike, Wu brings us light-hearted reminder to appreciate the youth and beauty of the fashion industry.
“Empire State of Mind” follows Life + Times‘ backstage coverage of the Y-3 and Rodarte shows at New York Fashion Week, as well as an entry about Fashion’s Night Out—it looks like Jay-Z is making strides to become more involved in the fashion industry. Now, he’s giving Kanye West some competition in notorious love for high fashion models. Perhaps ‘Ye and Spike Jonze will shoot a short film for Paris Fashion Week…We can dream, right?
This weekend, Tiesto is bringing his College Invasion Tour to the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario. [Dance around in excitement.]
The Gazette had a chance to ask the DJ a of couple questions about our city, student life and what it takes to make good music. Take a look:
London is becoming a hot spot for some of the world’s biggest DJs. What makes you excited about playing at the John Labatt Centre?
That’s exactly why I’m excited—I get to play the biggest venue in a city that’s got so much passion and energy for electronic music. It’s going to be epic.
Why do you think your music is successful with students?
Electronic music has grown over the past few years—you only need to listen to mainstream radio to hear that. These college students have been exposed to this and now they’re aware of how fun it can be. This young generation is looking to have a good time, all the time.
You’ve collaborated with a range of artists from Diplo to Tegan & Sara. What qualities do you look for in a collaborator?
I look for someone that I know can produce something great with me. They don’t have to be the most popular artist at that time, but they do have to have some sort of amazing quality to their music that I think will work well with what I do.
You hosted a contest offering fans the opportunity to remix your new track, “Work Hard, Play Hard” and to have the track released on your Musical Freedom label. What makes a remix a full-blown hit?
It has to really show the passion of the person who is remixing the track. A remix is that artist’s interpretation of someone else’s music, so as long as they can express themselves in their interpretation then the remix has a chance to be a hit.
Forest City Gallery is currently showing an innovative multi-media exhibition called …and then the city. The collaborative behind the project is Broken City Lab—an artist-led non-profit organization and creative research collective that works towards civil change.
Born from what Broken City Lab’s research director, Justin Langlois describes as, “thinking about how to open up a conversation around the intangible things that go into making a city what it is,” …and then the city brings London’s social, economic and political issues to life through art. Using real citizens’ responses to online and written surveys filled out in the gallery, Broken City Lab was able to capture a spectrum of opinions.
In the windows of Forest City Gallery are bulletin boards covered in hand-written Post-it notes, printed documents and heritage photos of city buildings. The opinions written on the boards range from disapproving remarks like, “If only London had balls, things would be a lot better,” to inspiring quotes like, “I really need London to know that it has the potential to be a great city,” to constructive criticisms like, “If only London had a better public transit system, then things would be a lot better.”
The left wall of the gallery is divided into four sections, each with its own massive …and then the city quote from the artists. The four quotes read, “…and then the city overcame everything,” “…and then the city actually developed,” “…and then the city ate cake,” and “…and then the city was good enough.” Though these hand-painted sections are the least interactive part of the exhibit, they certainly serve as its main focus.
Along the opposite wall hangs a chalkboard timeline, tracking London’s development. Almost surprisingly, it’s completely filled in by observers having written on it with sidewalk chalk. The various scribbles of document historical facts as well as predictions for the future.
The exhibition is sure to stir up some form of civil assessment from its spectators. The artists have provided a space where comments can be written on cards printed with the headline “…and then the city.” The cards will serve to continuously update the bulletin boards in the gallery’s windows—a successful second effort at making the exhibit interactive.
Langlois hopes this engagement will encourage people to open up creatively and make efforts to improve the quality of life in the city.
“There are a lot of things that might help to make London a better place to live, but maybe the most important thing would be to figure out how to encourage people with ideas to bring them to fruition,” he explains. “There’s a lot of pockets of creativity across arts, culture, and business in London from what I’ve seen, and I think that finding ways to help those creative people do the things they want to do with the city would indeed make it a better place to live.”
Overall, the socially, economically and politically motivated exhibit seems to have succeeded in engaging its audience to think about civil change. “[The goal is to] create a space for a conversation that might not normally occur about the things that go into shaping our experience of a city and how we might begin to think about changing those things,” Langlois says.
The exhibit runs at Forest City Gallery, located at 258 Richmond St., until Oct. 21. Open Wed.-Sat. 12-5 p.m. Admission is free.
New York Magazine’s biannual fashion issue has arrived, and with it came an encouraging industry-wide frenzy about cover model Andrej Pejic. This time around, Pejic is not only receiving attention for his looks but also for what he has to say. It’s kind of momentous, as if a star was born—one that, as Pejic puts it himself, doesn’t get out of bed for less that $50 a day. (A far and ironic cry from Linda Evangelista’s famed similar claim about her $10,000 minimum.)
The androgynous model has been on a rapid rise to fame since Sarah Doukas started marketing him as a woman, Carine Roitfeld styled him in Fendi, and he walked Jean Paul Gaultier’s runway. He embraces his gender-blending look, saying, “It’s not like, ‘Okay, today I want to look like a man, or today I want to look like a woman’; I want to look like me. It just so happens that some of the things I like are feminine.”
What seems to have struck readers positively is Pejic’s amusing personality. He relieves tension with punch lines like, “My whole life is controversy. What can I do? I’m like Britney Spears!” He’s surprisingly hilarious and confident—not to mention, successful—for a 19-year-old.
Pejic is no stranger to controversy. In May, FHM ran a story online that referred to Pejic as a “thing” and later took it down. In the same month, Pejic covered Dossier shirtless, and the magazine got censored at both Barnes & Noble and Borders. So, does the praise Pejic is receiving from New York Magazine mean the mainstream is ready to embrace him as an icon? We’ll have to wait and see. But if his career takes a turn for the worse, he’ll tell you, “I’ll come back with a sex tape…I’d bring in latex, make it really fashion, really artsy.”
WHAT THEY SAID:
Fashionista: “Andrej Pejic is one interesting dude. Or lady. Depending on how he’s feeling.” [Fashionista]
StyleCaster: “Reading it made us fall even more in love with the most gorgeous boy on Earth…Our favorite part, however, was when he addresses his gender-bending identity as ‘The Situation.’ Yes, just like on the Jersey Shore.” [StyleCaster]
Grazia UK: “We all know already that [Pejic] is the prettiest boy ever to don a wedding dress and sashay down the catwalk, but that doesn’t mean we want to stop talking about (and looking at) him.” [Grazia UK]
WHAT WE SAID…
Sarah Nicole Prickett, contributor: “Change never comes at the appropriate time in fashion. If it did, it wouldn’t be change, right? I wouldn’t say Andrej is challenging conventional beauty: he’s the super-stereotype of a tall, thin, white female runway model. How subversive is it that he’s really male? To the mainstream, I suppose it is. But to me, it’s sort of a non-issue. I don’t believe that anybody must just be as they’re born. Drag queens and queers have been doing this for decades. Fashion is, as ever, slow to catch on.”
Yesterday marked the start of Fall 2011’s Paris Couture Week. Though couture is often luxe and intricate, one house stands apart from the rest in boldness and charisma: Christian Dior. But as the cloud of former Dior designer John Galliano’s ongoing trial still looms over the industry, critics suspected the collection would be different due to his absence of direction. To our surprise, “different” turned to out mean shocking, and frankly disappointing.
The collection was what can only be described as an overzealous attempt to rework what is known as Dior. It seems to be of widespread opinion that from the patterns to the cuts, the ensembles simply did not belong in a couture collection. Overall, there was a vast lack of direction and vision, with colours and materials clashing all over the runway.
At the end of the show,creative director Bill Gaytten took a bow, accompanied by his first studio assistant, Susanna Venegas. He seemed elated to be at the head of the runway, but that’s probably because he didn’t see the giant elephant in the room with the “It Wasn’t Galliano” sign around its neck. Gaytten is already set to take over Galliano’s self-titled label, and though there were suspicions that he’d be taking over for the estranged designer at Dior, those can probably be put to rest. Is Gaytten going straight to the guillotine?
WHAT THEY SAID:
Women’s Wear Daily: “To Gaytten and Venegas’ credit, they did not play safe, opting for visual overstatement on multiple levels: shape, color, pattern. Unfortunately, these swung way too cartoonish, especially in the tailored pieces, all mixed graphics and cumbersome lines, while in a series of flagrant caftans the models did their part, flailing endless arms like Pat Cleveland wannabes.” [WWD]
Lucinda Chambers, fashion director of British Vogue: “Every house needs a point of view and it has to come from the designer—sadly that’s what was lacking in today’s show.” [Vogue UK]
Suzy Menkes, the International Herald Tribune: “John Galliano brought to the house a finesse and exquisite lightness that, with his departure, has blown away like confetti in the wind… This carnival of a show looked like a bunch of party-goers had done a witty, wacky take on Dior extravaganzas.” [NY Times]
Cathy Horyn, the New York Times: “Things must be very strange these days at the House of Dior, judging by the haute couture show we saw this afternoon at the Musée Rodin. All sorts of weird vibes, along with a lack of design leadership… I like Mr. Gaytten. He’s a sweetheart, but he is not a designer.” [NY Times]
WHAT WE SAID:
Bernadette Morra, editor-in-chief: “I don’t know whether this is a fair comparison or not. But the criticism of Gaytten’s first couture show for Dior reminds me of a WWD story that appeared in January 1997 after Alexander McQueen’s first couture collection for Givenchy. The theme was a send-up of the Golden Fleece and the collection was widely panned. WWD kindly printed a remark McQueen had made shortly after his appointment to the house. ‘People aren’t going to get wonderful things overnight.”
Canadian designer Sid Neigum has been working tirelessly over the past couple years to make a name for himself in the international fashion industry. The twenty-two year-old has attended the infamous Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, showed at Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto Fashion Weeks, and won emerging designer awards – that’s a long way from his start in Alberta.
Though my praise doesn’t account for much, I am willing to expend my effort convincing you that Neigum is the real deal. After seeing his Fall/Winter ’11 collection at LG Fashion Week, I fell in love. Whether that’s just because I personally love everything black, broody, and paired with underground electro music is obsolete – it was love. The dark aesthetic of his work is absolutely captivating. There were a handful of other designers who showcased all-black collections, but despite popular belief, it’s not an easy task. Not to say that others failed, but Neigum’s collection was the best, by far. Even Flare magazine has said that Neigum has “left other presenters in the proverbial fashion dust.”
Aside from the obvious skill the designer possesses, Neigum seems to have an “X factor” that will (hopefully) ensure his success. There’s something between drive, talent, and personality that is innate in some people. You can’t work for it, you can’t fake it, you can’t buy it, it’s just there. It’s as if he’s wired differently, with a brain that is both bold and clandestine. He designs by process, but it comes off as effortless. He’s modest, but he must know how far above-par he’s sitting. He’s humourous, but in a way that you’re not sure he’s joking. So, what’s the best way to find out? Ask him.
LC: You’ve been quoted saying that NYC Street Fashion and night life are inspiration to you, why do you find that attractive? What’s appealing about the young, dark, anti-luxury look?
SN: I’m attracted to rebellion, I think that’s the unifying theme for all of these things. Regular day to day life can be monotonous and New York street fashion and night life are an escape from the mundane. I think that rebellious feeling is portrayed through the anti-luxury look. I would consider the pieces “luxury”, in a sense, but when you make them look effortless and wear them with confidence, that’s what brings the “anti”.
LC: What kind of person do you envision wearing your clothes? What kind of attitude do they have?
SN: People who appreciate art, music and fashion. I guess I don’t imagine them with a specific attitude only an open mind.
LC: You’re only twenty-two and you’ve already attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, showed at Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto Fashion Weeks, won emerging designer awards, and gained recognition across the board of Canadian Fashion. What other goals do you have in the near future and in the long run?
SN: In the short term I hope to show my next collection at Milk Studios in New York. We are just starting to go through the application process now! The Fashion Collective is helping me out with that. This summer I also plan to be a part of a few trade shows in NYC, in effort to get some appropriate stores on board.
In the long run, I’d love to have a flagship store in New York and just run a successful business. I also plan to start diving into other mediums; I’ve played piano and guitar since elementary school, and music is has always played a big part in designing clothing for me, so I’d like to do something with that.
LC: What’s in store for your Spring/Summer ’12 Collection? Will you be designing another monochromatic collection?
SN: I don’t want to say too much, but I’m going to continue exploring the exoskeleton theme that was present in Fall/Winter ’11, I’m also creating a few custom prints. It will have a little more color than last time — but not too much, I love black. [Laughs].
LC: When are you most motivated or inspired to design? What’s the best part of the process?
SN: I like to spend some time in the contemporary floors of the MoMA. A couple days ago I spent a day there and brought my camera and sketch book with me. I especially liked the contemporary furniture, sculpture and architecture exhibits. It’s after trips like these I feel most inspired and refreshed; but its more than just the exhibits, the music I listen to on the way there, the buildings I walk by, the street fashion — it all plays a role.
The best part of the design process is to see your designs realized. It’s really exciting to see all your sketches come to life.
LC: Personally, I loved your outerwear and use of leather. What do you think your strong suits are? Have any weaknesses?
SN: Leather is definitely my strong suit, I love leather and I’ve worked with it a lot. As for my weaknesses, I would say golf.
LC: What song or music best describes you and your work?
SN: I like electro and techno. Lately I’ve been binging on Gesaffelstein, Siriusmo, Sei A, and Clouds.
LC: If a genie popped out of your sewing machine and offered to grant you three wishes, what would you wish for?
SN: Life long happiness, a flat in NYC with a gas stove, and a sexy red head chick who’s in law school – oh wait, I already have the last one. [Laughs].
Of all the presentations at Toronto’s LG Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2011 Collections, Rudsak stood out as the major production. By that I mean, it wasn’t just a parade of clothes, it was a show.
Rudsak began with the loud roar of a motorcycle engine and a short film on the backdrop of the runway, blaring some unrecognizable rock and roll. After flickering scenes of motorcycles, models, and the open road, Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild” kicked in and the first model – Addison Gill – took to the runway.
Sporting black heeled boots, charcoal coloured sweatpants and a fitted leather jacket, Gill strutted with extra bounce in her step, carrying a motorcycle helmet for added effect. The first male model hit the runway with slicked back hair and black aviators. Sure, the black-leather-jacket-aviator-sunglasses-and-a-t-shirt thing may not be new, but it never gets old.
The leather jackets in the collection all had a specific flare. One had rouched sleeves and high shoulders, another had fur trim and an over-sized hood. Other interesting details included cut-out motorcycle gloves, cable-knit shoulder pads, and fur that graduated vertically in colour from white to chestnut brown. Though the fur trend is getting slightly over-played, I admired Rudsak’s atypical take on it. My favourite piece: a knee-length beige fur coat with a scoop neck and short sleeves.
The designer behind Rudsak, Evik Asatoorian, drew inspiration from “easy rider meets urban lifestyle”. The collection was said to have brought the laid-back, edgy attitude of today’s traveler to the runway room. After the show ended, I think everyone in the audience wanted to hop on the runway and strut down it, just as the models had. Point being: I’m pretty sure they were inspired.
Backstage was just as bustling. As the stylists restocked the clothing, the models were already chatting with fervor about the show. There, Asatoorian took a couple minutes to answer some questions about fashion week, his collection and Canadian talent.
LC: Why is the biker lifestyle attractive to you this season?
EA: The whole concept of this biker look and individuals who are low-key are important to me. Everybody’s attracted to that attitude. I see these young rebel people wearing things that are comfortable. It’s like, ‘I just took off my helmet and I still look good.’
LC: The show was opened and closed by Canadian model, Addison Gill. Why is fostering Canadian talent in the fashion industry important to you?
EA: Canadian fashion is very important these days – our concept, our look, our nature. Canada has its own philosophy of life, and that, to me, is appealing. I would have loved to go to Europe at a young age and pursue what I love, but you’re a dime a dozen over there. Here in Canada, there’s more room to grow.
LC: What does showing your collection at LG Fashion Week mean to you?
EA: It’s important because it’s Canadian, and it’s important to be recognized here. Montreal is our hometown where everybody knows us. It’s important for me to expand in Canada, especially in Toronto.
LC: Rudsak started as a family business, how do you put your personal mark on the brand and make it your own?
EA: I’m an addict of outerwear, garments, and details. When I go back home the first thing I want to do right after the show is see how to outfits came out. The detailing to me is the most important – it’s about how you put it all together.
It’s shaping up to be a good month for the Montreal-based brand. In addition to the Fall/Winter 2011 show being a success, they will also be opening three new retail stores in Canada. The first will be opened in Burlington, Ontario, and the two that follow will be in Rosemère, Quebec, and St. Sauveur, Quebec. I think it’s time for a new leather jacket and an easy rider attitude.