Fashion and architecture seem to go well together. I've already had the good luck of meeting two very fashionable ladies who also happen to be trained architects; now I have the good fortune of interviewing a practicing architect who's taken the plunge into fashion design, Lara Presber. Lara's work first came to my attention via a publicist's email, and once I saw the fluid lines and graceful draping of her work, I was intrigued. Lara was gracious enough to answer a few questions I sent her about her 2010 spring collection, which is currently available at body politic. Readers, meet Lara Presber.
Lisa: For readers unfamiliar with your work and your aesthetic, can you give a brief description of what your line is all about?
Lara: I use inhabitable spaces to inspire wearable pieces, meaning that each season I translate a building that inspires me into a womenswear collection. This can be anything from the history of the site to the building materials, overall geometries/structure, and colour palette.
Lisa: You were a working architect before you turned to fashion design. This strikes me as funny and remarkable because you're the third architect I've come across who really loves fashion. What prompted the change in careers? Why do you think architects are attracted to fashion? What are some of the most striking similarities and differences between both fields, in your experience?
Lara: I’m actually still practicing architecture, but only part time now as opposed to the other way around! I think that when you’re in a creative profession you really need to love what you do to be successful, and while I enjoy architecture, I love clothing design. I had always wanted to get into fashion, but it didn’t seem very feasible growing up in the Canadian prairies so I took the safe route and started with buildings instead.
I can’t speak for all architects, but I’m really drawn to the tectonics of the way that clothing goes together and how you can get a completely different look just by changing a fabric or even changing the direction of the textile, so I think it’s more accurate to say that I’ve been seduced by the construction aspect of the clothing more so than the fashion part. I deal a lot with structure when designing a garment, which ties back very literally to architecture. The biggest differences for me between the two professions are the timelines (6 month cycle versus 5 years) and the tactile nature of the execution; it’s so much more intimate with the clothing, to see it on the end user and see their reaction as well as take part in the construction. In both professions, I think we all really want to physically make things with our bare hands, but it’s only with fashion that I get to do this.
The Aqua Tower
Lisa: Your current collection is inspired by the Aqua Tower of Chicago. Why the Aqua Tower, and how did you translate design elements from a building into clothing?
Lara: I was in Chicago for a trade show a couple of years ago and opened the curtains in my hotel room to see this marvellous concrete curved fin on the next building over--it was so close I could have jumped out onto it! I couldn’t get that building out of my head so I knew that it would be the next basis for a collection. After returning home, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the building is the tallest of its kind designed by a woman-led firm, which sealed the choice. You can see the relationship of the colours in the silk print as well as the fins echoed in the tiered pieces. I like that the amount of glass and concrete you see changes depending on where you’re standing and tried to express that with revealing a different coloured silk under the charcoal tiers that move and flutter when you walk.
Lisa: What's next for you, personally and professionally?
Lara: I’ve just launched my first flagship store/design studio in Calgary earlier this year so I'm quite content at the moment with settling into this new challenge. It has been really wonderful to meet my clients face to face and learn what I can do to make the line even better. It has been a huge change for me so I think that I won’t be adding anything else into the mix for the next little while!
Want to see more of Lara's work? Visit body politic (12th and Main, Vancouver) in person or online to shop the colleciton.