Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ruby Ellen Designs

After starting Ruby Ellen Designs three years ago, Ruby Johnson is now busier than ever. "I'm making 40 dresses right now," said Johnson.

In a tiny room above Eleven:Eleven boutique in Kensington, packed from floor to ceiling with fabric is where all the magic happens.

"I never wanted to, never had a dream, to be a business owner," said Johnson.  "That was for people who knew how to run a business, I just knew how to sew."

After exhausting herself handing out resumés while working on a wedding, she thought that she might as well just give it a try, and do her own thing.

"They (clients) can't find something their looking for, can't find something that fits, can't find the right style, whatever."

That's when they come to Ruby.

The creation process starts with an idea from the client and then moves onto talk of fabrics.

The first meeting usually takes the most time, followed by three to six fittings. And in the end is a beautiful one of a kind dress.

"My dream is to help women feel beautiful for their special occasion."

Stepping out of her comfort zone a few seasons ago, she decided to create for the runway.

"I struggled producing my own line," said Johnson.

"I was so used to taking someone else's ideas and making it happen."

"But I would still be hemming jeans in my basement if it hadn't been for Alberta Fashion Week."

"It came with the confidence of doing it," said Johnson. "Listening to people, what they liked about a given collection, and what their comments were."

Now into her fourth season, the struggle has lessened, and everything is generally well planned out before she gets started.

Recently Ruby Ellen Designs ventured to Brooklyn, to show in front of a packed audience of 500.

"Nothing I showed in Calgary, ever prepared me for an experience in New York."

"It was absolutely amazing, totally different," said Johnson. "It was huge, a huge venue, extremely organized and well ran."

Coming up next on her schedule is a fundraiser for Sonshine Community Services 'Walking in Sunshine', presented by Ruby Ellen Designs.

It will be on International Women's Day, March 8, at the Lougheed House.

Along with fashion shows there will be an afternoon tea, a chance to interact with the designers, followed by another show and a supper.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lara Presber

Photo by Noah Fallis
Much like many a modern woman, having one career is just not enough.

An architect before she was a designer, Lara Presber has found a way to weave the two together.

Her labels slogan, 'Inhabitable spaces inspiring wearable pieces', is all about using structures to inspire sustainability in her designs.
Photo by Noah Fallis

"I'm not crazy and make everything out of bamboo, but sustainability makes a lot of sense right now," said Presber.

Looking for inspiration for her Fall 2011 collection, she found out about the Vakko Design Center in  Turkey by taking a poll on Facebook.

"It's a building that's all about reuse," said Presber.

The Vakko Design Center was built on a tight timeline and not only incorporated an abandoned concrete structure, but the architect, Joshua Prince-Ramus, was also able to use plans that had been slated for project in California that was cancelled before construction.

Presber incorporated these ideas into her Fall 2011 collection by combining some of her archive patterns into the new designs, as well as working a few of the buildings structural elements into the clothing.

"I added a taffeta 'x' to some pieces to give the delicate silk greater structure," said Presber. "And the kaleidoscopic print was inspired by the mirrors in the main atrium."
Photo by Noah Fallis

The main theme between this collection and all she makes is the level of quality.

"It's kind of like how our grandparents lived,"said Presber. "You buy something because you want to wear it for ten years."

Her Fall 2011 collection is available here in Calgary at her flagship store, and just in time for the holidays to, with many nice cocktail dresses to spice up your season.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chantel Traub

"I put a lot of hours and thought into each piece," said Chantel Traub. "I feel they deserve a name as well."

"It kinda gives the viewer, the wearer, a view into what the painting and image is about."

Traub's collections of silkscreened and hand-painted clothes are little pictures of her world in a wearable format.

"Lately when I've been making things, I'm kind of imagining I'm travelling in my own city."

"You experience a lot more when you're travelling to a new city," said Traub. "And it's kind of a surreal experience."

With one piece titled 'Marienkirche' after a church in Germany where her friends were married, and another 'Ohi'a Blossom', inspired by a family trip to Hawaii, every article has a story.

"'Skyline' is my pièce de résistance."

'Skyline' was Traub's grad piece that took her months to do, with about 15 yards of silk to hand-paint.
Photo by Danielle Smerek(?)
"It probably takes about three days, if I compacted everything," said Traub about the work that goes into each piece.

"One dress was over fifty hours, but it usually takes a couple days to paint and then a day to sew."

After talking through the process of how each piece is made, and the differences between screening and painting, Traub says she doesn't really mess up anymore. 

"I have silkscreening down to a science, I'm super clean when I do it."

Unless it's after 1 a.m. she adds. "That's when bad things happen, I don't go past that time."

A recent grad of ACAD, and majoring in fibre, she is about to start working on her third collection, Fall 2012. Keeping the details about her Fall 2012 quiet until it's ready to show, all Traub is saying is that she will start working from a new perspective.

Her first collection didn't really have any cohesiveness to it, but she was really happy with each piece.

"I was actually amazed at all the feedback I got after Parkshow."

"An editor from Avenue magazine was there and wrote about my Stephen Ave skirt, which really helped out a ton, media wise."

Already a big hit in Calgary, Traub has no worries she will keep designing.

As an after thought, she mentioned that only about 2 per cent of graduates of a fine art program succeed in their field.

"I'm going to be in that per cent."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rabbit Boutique

Even though the Calgary art scene is starting to really evolve, emerging artists still have a tough time finding an affordable venue for their work.

Enter Rabbit Boutique. An online shop featuring Calgary's upcoming talent in the art and design world.

Photo by Cheri Chatterton

"We really look for work that isn't mass produced and that is made here in Alberta," said Su Ying Strang.

Strang started up the boutique with Cassandra Paul in late 2010, as a way to showcase talent in an affordable environment.

"Originally we had a plan to open up a store, but we've kind of back-tracked on it," said Paul. "Online is the way of the future."

With the store being in an online format, it gives shoppers flexibility as well as opening the market up to a global scale.

"One of our main goals is just introducing a lot of the fantastic local designers to the rest of the world," said Strang.

Both masterminds behind the boutique have firsthand experience in being freshly out of school and having trouble finding a place to showcase their work.

Strang and Paul both graduated from ACAD and majored in painting, which they also continue to do on the side, as well as having full time jobs just to keep the bills paid.

"I always thought I'd go for the money route not the passion route," said Paul. "But I went the poor route. The poor and happy route."

Currently showcasing a number of artists from jewellery designers to ceramic artisans, the ladies are always looking for new talent.

"When show and sale comes up at ACAD we always go and snoop around," said Strang.

Even though most of their talent base is from ACAD they have no biases, as they are looking at all local designers.

"We're looking for a really unique feel to the artist that represents them as well as our city."

"It's all about giving back to the community and the arts scene," said Paul. "I'd like all of them to become established and successful."

Not only do they represent a variety of skill, the site itself is a collaboration of what Calgary has to offer.

"We're currently looking for a photographer for the fall look-book."

Constantly dealing with new people for photography, it gives an opportunity for the photographer to grow their portfolio as well as maybe dabble in a style they haven't tried before.

At the end of the day, they're just looking to help others like themselves get their foot in the door, and have a great time doing it.

"Calgary is just an exciting place to be right now," said Strang.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

MaNoKin Design

"I don't do drama."

Unusual for a designer, especially of women's clothing, Marsina King likes to keep things low-key.

After a show in June and a pop-up shop in July, King is ready to slow down with events for the rest of summer, having just the Jumble Boogie Sample Sale on August 13 left on the promotion schedule.

"The pop-up shop put me a little behind, but I'm ready to get working on the next collection."

Photo by Shaun Robinson

This will be the third collection in under two years that MaNoKin Design has put out.

Started last October, and after a first collection that was a little bit all over, according to King, she's really starting to find her stride.

"The first collection wasn't really my style," commented King, looking forward to the next one, Spring/Summer 2012.

With each collection, her focus on the target demographic, and the vision she's aiming for is becoming a lot stronger and more pronounced in her designs.

"The next collection is going to be smaller with only ten or fifteen looks," said King. "Really functional pieces that can be intermingled."

Taking inspiration from anything and everything, King still goes with the philosophy that 'design is everywhere' which she picked up while attending Ryerson and it seemed to stick with her.

Right now the Fall/Winter 2011 collection is just making it's way online for pre-orders.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Straying away from my usual posts...

Sitting here in Amsterdam, listening to rave music at 10:30 a.m., and it is a good day.

I just want to make some updates about things I've seen over here in Europe. In particular. Clothes.

In all reality, there's not a lot of difference. I still see a lot of the same stuff at home, but I see a lot more of it over here.

A few key differences in every day dressing, are nice shoes. Particularly in Italy and France, and the big difference being on men. Running shoes seem to only be for running. Unlike at home, where skater shoes or runners can be everyday. I... can't remember the last time I've seen a pair of skater shoes actually. Converse are still okay though. But they aren't tattered to bits.

Whatever is worn, needs to be presentable. Even punks, goths, or the such, look presentable. It's not ripped rags, it's well kept clothes that actually work together to form an outfit.

Pants do not drag on the ground. I have maybe seen two pairs of pants in my entire time over here that have been to long. And one of those has been mine. I'm terribly guilty of wearing pants that are too long, because I like to wear them with both heels and flats, or I'm just to lazy to hem them. When I was in Milan though, I did manage to buy two pairs of pants that I don't need to hem. It is amazing. This is why Zara is awesome.

Moving on. I'm not sure of the technical name of the pants, but to me they look a lot like MC Hammer, or Balloon pants. And my oh my do they look comfy. Everyone seems to have a pair. I want some, but I'm not that bold. I know once I get home and start wearing them around, I will be getting some funny looks. That and I've spent all my money on various other things anyway. :)

Jumpsuits! Or catsuits, whatever you call them. Onesies, are the way to go. It is a great idea in theory to, because it's an entire outfit in one piece. I support them. BUT, only if they fit. The best ones are the kind that are a little flowy and have a belted waist and balloon style pants that look like a dress. Those are my faves.

This is my input on trends. Owls are long past their expiry date, and I believe that parrots want to take their place. Jungle colours and prints are heavily in, and this is the bird to go with. I've seen it on a few pieces of Jewellery here and there. Gintox in Milan, a cute accessory store, had a lovely parrot necklace.

Maybe I've totally missed it already, and Parrots are in, but I think they are going to hit it big. And I think Peacocks are also going to be right there along with them. But Parrots will be the bigger deal. Just what I think. If this isn't true, I'll make it a trend anyway. :)

So one of my new favourite stores is Lollipops in Paris. Super cute accessories, I bought a lovely birthday gift for my sister there.

That's all I really have to say for now. Also, I'm a huge fan of wearing a scarf over my hair on rainy days or windy days, because it's just really easy. But that either makes me look Russian or Muslim. We're not sure yet.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just an FYI

Hey all,
I know I haven't been posting anything in awhile, but currently I'm out of the country.
Once I am back though, I hope to have qutie a few more stories up by the end of summer.
In the meantime, feel free to check out my other blog (oh yes, I have two)
to check out updates while I'm travelling throught Europe.
Should keep you occupied until I'm home again.

That is all darlings,