Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to sit down with Beverly Gan, London based designer and all around fabulous woman, for a Western Canada Fashion Week interview to get a better idea of who she is, what drives her, and what we can expect to see from her Spring Summer 2012 collection. Beverly will be showing during Western Canada Fashion Week on September 29. Beverly was raised in Edmonton and moved to London England in 2007 to study at the Istituto Marangoni, the alma mater of design heavyweights such as Domenico Dolce, Alessandro De Benedetti and Franco Moschino. Beverly is not only incredibly creative and talented, but she also has the business sense and prudence that many artists and designers neglect. The core of the Beverly Gan brand is “Designing for the socially conscious individual who desires clothing to reflect personal attitude and charisma. Amalgamating practicality and inspiration, each season is interpreted with an eye for visual optimism.”
WCFW: What can we expect to see from your SS’12 collection which you will be unveiling on September 29?
BG: This collection is origami inspired so there are a lot of folding techniques and pleating. Rather than having separated pieces, the fabric is done in one piece that is folded and shaped into the garment. I love subtle details, clean lines, and timelessness. These are the things that inspire me and the elements I try to keep when designing.
WCFW: Why did you decide to design using folding and pleating rather than seams?
BG: At the beginning of my 3rd year of studies I did an experimental piece which was called the Lotus Leaf Dress so I wanted to continue with the origami theme.
WCFW: So will you be showing a Ready to Wear collection this season?
BG: Yes it is a ready to wear collection with subtle origami detailing rather than over the top couture detailing.
WCFW: Typically in a spring summer collection there are a lot of punches of colour and floral patterns. Are you carrying on in that direction?
BG: Yes to an extent. The photos we did turned out to look very spring summer. There are a lot of nude palletes. I’m all about black and everyone knows that. I always design in black. There are tones of light gray… a bluish cold gray. A bright dark green, almost an emerald colour. It works well and is quite cohesive.
WCFW: This is your first time showing with Western Canada Fashion Week. Why did you decide to unveil your collection with us this season?
BG: I’m from Edmonton and my biggest support is from Edmonton. It’s home and has a special place in my heart. As much as I love London and I moved there for fashion, the economy there is not viable at the moment. It’s not a bad idea to show there but it’s not the smartest choice for me, especially as a ready to wear designer. It’s very costly to show in the European market, so I decided to launch in North America and I’m kind of considering moving back to North America.
WCFW: What do you hope to get from showing with WCFW this season? Are you looking to attract some buyers?
BG: Yes. So officially this would be the launch of my label. I will still promote the collection to certain buyers in London but I am focusing on launching in North America.
WCFW: Are there any designers in particular that influence you or that you really admire?
BG: I’ve been told that my designs very Balenciaga, which I didn’t see at first but now I kind of see it because I like to design very structural items. I do like tailored stuff but I tend to not do anything too fitted… especially with ready to wear. I don’t like to feel to constrained when I’m wearing clothing. I like things to be comfortable.
I also hear comparisons with a lot of Japanese designers like Comme Des Garçons.
WCFW: There’s one that I have in mind… Rick Owens!
BG: I love Rick Owens. I can see that with my darker stuff.
WCFW: Yes! I saw the photos for Post Apocolypse and that’s what it reminded me of.
BG: That was my graduate collection. It wasn’t what I orignianlly intended on doing. It was a lot of experimenting with textiles and I dyed some of the fabric. I don’t think was shown, they were prototypes. Washed silk and rayon cords.
WCFW: In interviewing some of the local designers, one of the challenges they experience is that balance between wanting to get their line in stores, but then maybe not having the manpower to produce and meet those demands. Do you feel that pressure as well?
BG: No not necessarily because where I’m placed geographically, there are a lot of production companies. I’ve already looked into what I would do for the production of a small run. I would just go with a small CMT (cut, make, trim). If it’s a medium or larger run, I’ve been looking into a factory in Portugal that can handle that. Some people go to India and China but that’s actually really risky because as a start up company, it would cost a lot more to go there and oversee production. If you aren’t there and they screw it up and you get your shipment, you’ve essentially wasted 3 months. Besides the sample and the collection itself, nothing would be done in-house except for a few pieces that are custom so they would have to be done in-house.
WCFW: Since you tend towards the darker side of clothing and design. Do you prefer designing for Fall/Winter?
BG: Yes, I love Fall/Winter. I look forward to it. You have so many more options in my opinion. I love designing jackets, thick sweaters and things like that. This collection was sort of a challenge. I designed it specifically for a North American market. It is still very me. If I showed it to my friends back home, they could definitely see me in it. When I saw the shoot yesterday I was like “Wow, that doesn’t really seem like me!” I designed it with Edmonton in mind, but still a lot of it is a part of me. It’s not too out there because the market is so new here but a lot of people are getting more into fashion.
WCFW: People are also starting to be more conscious of where they are spending their money and wanting to support local talent. What do the next few years look like?
BG: I hope things go well here and I hope to get some buyers. Once I go back to the UK, I will be working on Autumn Winter 2012. Coming back here this time feels different from my previous trips back. I’ve been missing Edmonton and am considering moving back this way but I need to think out my options. As you had mentioned, designers here have that challenge with production. The textile industry is practically dead here due to lack of people interested in sewing basically; so the production thing is a big factor. New York is also an option.
WCFW: How long have you been away?
BG: I moved to London in 2007 and thought I was going to stay there for a while but after I started this collection I thought, “What am I doing here, there’s no money here. I should move back to Edmonton or Canada at least.”
WCFW: Well we look forward to seeing your show on Western Canada Fashion Week’s final night and are so happy to have you back in Edmonton, even if it’s just for a short time!
Beverly Gan Spring Summer 2012 Collection showcasing on September 29, 2011 at the TransAlta Arts Barns. For more on Beverly Gan, visit beverlygan.blogspot.com.