It was a delight talking with Danielle Martin, half of the brains behind Montreal-based brand, MARTIN LIM. The other half of the operations is Pao Lim, Martin's husband. She says that they've known each other for about 16 years now. The two met at a friend's party, studied fashion together, and eventually started their brand. While the two have similar styles in design (after all, they have known each other for such a long time), Martin says that their differences in gender give them natural impressions on what looks good when taking boldness and femininity into consideration.
Fashion first tweaked Martin's interest when she was a child. She talks about how she would watch movies and television shows that displayed stunning dresses that caught her attention. She likes the creative aspect of fashion where it acts as an outlet for self-expression. It is this same creative aspect that can also be challenging, but enjoyable. She says that one of her biggest challenges as a designer is creating pieces that are applicable to her and to others. This is combined with the challenge of fusing bold and classic pieces. Martin says that since she started MARTIN LIM, she does wear some of the clothes that she designs, though at times she tends to feel like a walking advertisement for her brand. Wearing what she designs helps her creative process though since it acts as a way for her to reflect on her creations. Thinking about pieces that she would want to wear helps her to come up with pieces that others would want as well.
Martin would describe their collection as "classical with a modern edge" where she likes the combination of edginess and refined femininity. This edge can also be brought on by the coolness of great shoes and accessories. Martin says that we can expect a fine mix of classic and modern designs- largely inspired by art and styles from the 20s. Their designs are meant to evoke ideas of comfort and sophistication for the modern woman. Their brand also represents their ideas surrounding Canadian fashion production. All their garments are locally produced and use national materials when available. Martin hopes that this can help promote Montreal's fashion scene where she wants it to prominent and renown such as the fashion hubs overseas. She believes that Montreal's fashion scene differs from the rest of Canada because of its deep connection with the French culture. With this, Montreal looks to France's fashion techniques for inspiration. This includes inspiration on colour choice, fabrics, and more. I also asked Martin about her thoughts on the relationship between what a person wears and his/her personality. She says that dress "reflects the feeling of the day" where there's no concrete personality traits that can be judged off appearance since moods and emotions change with each day.
Martin's future fashion plans include the expansion of MARTIN LIM, as well as the establishment of a second label that will focus more on less expensive clothing. MARTIN LIM currently holds merchandising in Montreal, so she hopes that it will be able to expand into Ontario, the rest of Canada, and eventually internationally.
MARTIN LIM serves as not only a lovely Montreal fashion label, but also as an inspirational story of effort and fulfillment. In a following remark via Twitter, Martin says that her and her husband share the same values where they want to "...transmit the sense of effort and appreciation of what [they] get from it to [their] kids".
Similarly, I hope that I'm able to evoke that same sense of appreciation for designers to my readers. Personally, after doing these interviews, it makes seeing the creations of the designers all the more wonderful. I don't just see fashion on the runway- I see thoughts, personality, effort, and spirit.
Thank you to Danielle Martin of MARTIN LIM for the interview!
Special thanks to Theresa Micallef of [FAT] for making this interview happen.
MARTIN LIM kicks off the Toronto Alternative Arts & Fashion Week runway shows at 7:15 pm on April 26.
Images from martin-lim.com