THE DESIGNER TALKS FAST FASHION, BRIDESMAIDS & FUTURE COLLECTIONS
Story by Rebecca Poynton-Murray
Photos provided by Cassie Dee
Calgary-born, Vancouver-based designer Cassie Dee has created a summer-ready wardrobe filled with bold colour and prints and quality fabrics. After debuting her designs at Toronto Fashion Week last year (where she placed as a finalist in the Mercedes-Benz Start-Up competition for emerging designers), her two-year-old label has continued to showcase wardrobe staples like blazers, slim skirts and blouses you can wear from work day to weekend.
If you agree that your outfit should cost more than your dinner, this is the young designer to follow.
How long have you had your own label?
For about two years, although in my head it has existed for about 10!
Do you prefer designing collections for Spring/Summer or Fall/Winter?
Probably Fall/Winter. I am big on layering. It makes a lot of sense in Vancouver, and also in Calgary where I grew up.
You also make bridal wear. What made you chose to do this?
Bridal (mostly bridesmaid) kind of snuck up on me! I started doing it when I first started the label for the extra income, but it slowly grew on me. I think modern brides are really in tune to their bridesmaid’s sensibilities. Everything should be flattering; I certainly believe you should be able to wear your bridesmaid dress again. I only use silk to create bridesmaid dresses because I think it is important to have that natural shine in the photographs. I quite like it now.
You make your pieces with 100% pure materials; is that important for quality?
For Fall/Winter 2012 there are a few more blends. As long as the fabric has a nice drape and doesn’t look cheap, I am open to blends. Finding fabric like that can be a bit of a challenge though!
A lot of trends come and go very quickly, but part of your philosophy is that clothes should be able to transcend so you can wear them again each season. Why so?
I’m not too into ‘fast fashion’. When I was in high school, sure, I would buy $15 shirts that looked ready for the garbage after three washes! But I’m not sure when it happened that men and women kept shopping like students. It’s certainly the norm now, so I don’t mean to get too down on it, but it is wasteful. And if your clothes cost less than your dinner, you’re kind of just kidding yourself that it is made and dyed and shipped in a way worthy of being produced at all. I know the clothing I manufacture can be washed and worn many, many times because I make it and wear it myself. I actually think the cost evens out in the end!
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I’m not sure my biggest achievement is just one thing. I think it’s more of a culmination of skills I built up by trying new fabrics and techniques and approaches to design. I think that the line keeps getting stronger, and that is probably my biggest achievement.
What is your favorite color combination for Spring/Summer 2012?
Orange is so big for Spring/Summer; the shade in the collection is quite bright but not at all neon. I like the pairing of orange and olive: the olive to pull the outfit into a sophisticated [and] non-obvious direction, and the orange to keep it on trend and vivacious. I think for Spring/Summer 2012 that is a fantastic, unexpected combo.
What affects your approach to your designs?
The only thing I consciously do while designing is be sure to take in various inspirations. I really want to push the collections in new directions and avoid having it all look too referential. This is surprisingly easy because lots of things and new ideas constantly come up, and I try not to block anything out. The best usually comes if I think there is no way to incorporate the new inspiration or idea at all!
There are a few key things I always do because of how I personally dress. For example, I am always going to do a pant and a woven blouse because that is how I dress and I need to have something to wear! Since I make the patterns and sew the samples myself, I usually try something new. A fabric, technique or a draping piece mostly because it is motivating for me to keep going, but also because I know in the long run it is good for me personally to keep learning.
What are you planning for seasons in 2013?
For 2013 I am going in a bold and strong direction, away from cutesy and more towards beautiful, stand alone pieces. I always do directional color but for Fall/Winter 2012, the palette goes beyond directional – just primary colors and black and white. For Spring 2013, fabrics will play a bigger contrasting role than colour, with more texture, and more fabric mixing. Still portraying beauty and strength and independence – those are my key goals for the 2013 collections.