Tuesday, April 19, 2011

7 Days of Designers- Interview with Emily Woudenberg

I had the opportunity to interview Emily Woudenberg at Ottawa Fashion Week where she displayed her work with Anastasiya Kuyevda.  Through this face-to-face interview, I managed to get a look at Woudenberg's refreshingly excitable and passionate personality.  When I received her reply in response to our email interview this time around, her writing managed to capture that same essence.  At [FAT], Woudenberg will be showing her latest solo collection, PENROSE.  Inspired by M.C. Escher's Ascending and Descending Staircase, Woudenberg describes her collection as colourful and vintage inspired.  PENROSE includes pieces that are wearable and "perfect for women who are bold and expressive".
What does 'alternative fashion' mean to you? 
I think alternative fashion is an accident for me because I don't really know what "not alternative fashion" is. I don't go to fashion school, I didn't like the girls that wanted to go there in high school. So I don't really understand the "rules" (standards) of the industry. There must be a rule like in graphic design that's like "Helvetica is the god font", but for fashion. I guess I will learn as I go.

What inspired this collection? 
I have a really big crush on M.C. Escher, so he had a small role for the inspiration for the last collection. But for this collection, he became the centre component. A lot of people see the trailer and say "Inception" but I don't see it! In the clothes, there are a lot of lines, and a couple almost have staircases in them. Others are more jewellery driven to show jewellery- just 'cause that's where I started.

You said in our last interview that your designs reflect your personality.  How does this collection reflect who you are?  
Ya, I think we were talking about how Anastasiya and I both have our own styles. I don't know if this collection reflects who I am. Because I am working alone, it shows a lot of me and my thinking currently. However, I do not know if this is who I will be for the next five years. Being young, it is hard to say if this is my "style"...if I have one. I like being able to experiment with what I can do and not stick to one style. [It] gives me room to grow. 

But I guess to answer your question, it reflects how I feel about trends. I just get really confused when I see magazines that say "Oh, it's spring! Refresh your wardrobe- buy florals!". Some trends are honest, others are just to make sales and to get you to purely buy more. Does anyone really read that stuff and go shopping ASAP? We (Toronto) have tons of designers who are creative enough to do something interesting and different, not to sell the same stuff each year.

You're showcasing on the "Fashion Narratives day"- what story does your collection tell? 
Well, I am doing a film to match up with the collection with help from Justin Arjune and a really great team. And that really helps express the story. It's about a beautiful young lady that finds herself in a never-ending staircase, following every trend and buying new clothes; but of course, the staircase never ends. 

Is designing for FAT different from designing from OFW? 
Yes, FAT is more creative and free-form. OFW is also very creative, but the expectations (especially if it's in the National Gallery), I feel is more strict. But, it was sick to show in the National Gallery.

I see from the FAT schedule that you're designing solo this time around.  How is designing alone different from partnering?  Which do you prefer?
I miss Anastasiya! I really love working with others. In a sense, I am still working with people- I just have a few more liberties in small choices. But, I still find I am working with a bunch of people, so it's not a huge difference. The only negative in partners is that you can't have this amazing reigning powerful creative vision- you need to be able to have the vision, but share it and let it be malleable. And no one works as hard as you do (in your own head).

What is one of your biggest challenges as a designer?  
Time. Full time school. Full time fashion. Zero time me.

If you had to shop at one store (for clothes) for the rest of your life, where would it be?
Value Village.

If you were an item of clothing, what would you be and why?
My boyfriend jeans. I would make all women wear me because they look so much better than tight jeans and don't hurt.

Thank you so much, Emily Woudenberg for your time!
Emily will be showcasing at the Toronto Alternative Arts & Fashion Show on April 26 at 9 p.m.

Images from [FAT]'s Flickr and emilywoudenberg.com


  1. I'm really enjoying your 7 days of designers interviews. Keep it up!

  2. I love vintage dresses! These are awesome. So is your blog. :) Definitely following. Have a good day!


  3. Oh wow! She's makes such beautiful clothes. Such a good interview too, must check her out! Panda xo

  4. the last photo with the turban is so great, this lady is real talent :)

  5. Love these looks!

    Great interview!



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