by CHRISTIAN DARE
HISTORICALLY CANADIAN fashion—based on presumptions that we are predominately a cold-weather climate—was known for its chunky knits, warm winter outerwear, and lots of layering. We were seen as a fashion industry that’s sole focus was fall-winter collections, but all that is changing with a new crop of Canadian designers. With brands like Beaufille, Miriam Baker and Hilary MacMillan establishing a new flirty, feminine—yet totally modern—aesthetic. Canadian fashion is finally getting noticed on the international stage for its unique approach to spring-summer dressing: inspired by nature, a little bit romantic and completely practical. It is typically, Canadian cool.
Enter Eliza Faulkner. Faulkner studied fashion and marketing at Central St. Martin’s College of Art & Design in London, England. During her studies, she worked in such notable fashion houses as Erdem and Roland Mouret, among many others. One look at Faulkner’s collections and you can see their influences in her own work. From Mouret, you can find his focus on exquisite construction influencing her approach to manufacturing. And from Erdem, a love for the softer, gentler, feminine side of womenswear. With a focus on clean lines and classic silhouettes with a nod to flirty femininity, Faulkner’s approach to fashion design is all her own.
After returning to the west coast of Canada, Faulkner launched her first capsule collection in the spring of 2012. That first collection was comprised almost entirely of linen dresses; establishing Faulkner’s signature of a sustainable approach to fashion. By 2013 and 2014, she was already being recognized for her work as a finalist in the Mercedes-Benz Start Up competition. And by 2014 she was nominated for her first CAFA (Canadian Arts and Fashion Award) in the Emerging Designer category. She is currently nominated for her second CAFA as Womenswear Designer of the Year.
“Fashion always acts as a reflection of the times. Everyone has been wearing sweatpants or some variation of sweatpants for the past year. I’m excited to see what comes next though…once we’re all sick and tired of dressing down, it’s going to get really exciting.”
Now based in Montreal, Faulkner sources fabrics that are woven locally in Montreal from reputable mills and uses deadstock fabric and notions whenever she can. Furthering her sustainable approach to fashion, she manufactures every piece in Montreal with the help of local sewers, cutters, and pattern makers. In fact, her entire collection is made within just one block of her studio in Montreal’s historic garment district, Chabanel. As Faulkner notes, “We’ve always manufactured in Canada (now in Montreal) and it’s hugely important to me. I can’t imagine doing it any other way.” This ultra-local approach to production means Faulkner can ensure every piece she creates follows not only her fashion philosophy, but her high-quality control standards.
We were so enamored by her collections and her modern approach to fashion (and we think you will be too) that we had to sit down (virtually) with her to find out what makes Eliza Faulkner and her namesake brand tick….
Have you always wanted to be a fashion designer?
EF: Yes, since I started watching Fashion File when I was around eight, I knew it’s what I wanted to do. My mother also made all my clothes growing up, so it felt like a natural progression.
At its core, what does your brand stand for?
EF: “The bold feminine” is a mantra I refer back to a lot. It just means being bold and unabashed in your femininity (whether or not you identify as female). It means using frills and ruffles, and volume, and pink as an armour rather than something to hide beneath.
What was the inspiration for your latest collection? Where do you find your inspiration?
EF: I find my inspiration from people watching, seeing what my friends are wearing, and noticing what I want to wear. I’m also inspired by nature and the land I grew up on: Vancouver Island. Everything is always very feminine, but there’s an underlying earthiness to it all.
What is your must-have item from your collection for this summer? What will Eliza be wearing over and over again from Eliza Faulkner?
EF: I love the linens. I’ve been using the same linen sinceI started the brand in 2012. I’ll probably be wearing the Berkley skirt and Poet top as soon as it gets too hot to wear anything else. That, or the new Ramona jumpsuit—they’re easy and comfortable and flowy to wear.
You started your brand almost 10 years ago now (2012), how has your brand grown and changed? Has becoming a mother changed your approach to fashion and in turn, the DNA of your label?
EF: It’s changed over the seasons as trends come and go, but the core has always remained the same: strong, bold shapes and lines and natural, strong fibres. Motherhood has made me look for ways to get dressed more easily and with less fuss so in a way that’s changed some of the things I wear and want to make. Again, I still want everything to be bold and feminine so I’m trying to figure out how to do that with more ease.
As the world changes at a frantic pace, what do you think the role of fashion is? Or what do you think it will become?
EF: Fashion always acts as a reflection of the times. Everyone has been wearing sweatpants or some variation of sweatpants for the past year. I’m excited to see what comes next though…once we’re all sick and tired of dressing down, it’s going to get really exciting.
What excites you about the “world” opening up again? What’s next for Eliza Faulkner?
EF: I can’t wait to go out and have friends over and get dressed up again. I’ve enjoyed making “stay-home” clothes, but dresses have always been my favourite thing to make, so I’m excited to dress people for occasions and parties again.
We couldn’t agree more.