EMERGING DESIGNER EVOKES NATURAL MOVEMENT IN HER LATEST COLLECTION
Story by Odessa Paloma Parker
Photos by Jolie Adele
Shortly before the “official” shows of fashion week began, Toronto-based designer Paria Shirvani held a preview of her Spring/Summer 2013 collection on the Ossington strip. Having interned for designers like Joeffer Caoc, Jeremy Scott and Arthur Mendonça, and after working for mega-brand Joe Fresh for three years, Shirvani launched her own line last season.
Her latest collection, called Zephyr, comprised of cream, blush and grey ensembles featuring draped trousers, fitted vests and maxi skirts. Appearing comfortable (but not overly casual or sloppy), Shirvani deftly combined chic detailing with understated silhouettes; the result is a dream work wardrobe that could easily be worn during downtime, too.
We caught up with Shirvani after her presentation to find out more about her background and aspirations.
How did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I started sewing at a young age and really enjoyed the process of piecing materials together to make a garment. I delved further into fashion while attending an arts high school, and was involved in curating and creating costumes for the musicals and plays. At age 17, I experienced my first internship with Misura by Joeffer Caoc. After a year of being there I was certain there was nothing else I wanted to do.
What’s your first “fashion” memory?
I attended my first industry fashion show when I was in high school; it was Misura by Joeffer Caoc. After seeing all the models go down the runway I remember telling myself, “I am going to do this.”
How have your various internships and work experience assisted your growth as a designer?
Working [with] various design teams has given me invaluable insight and has helped shape the way I work and enjoy to work as a designer. At Joe Fresh I was able to gain an understanding of how the fashion industry operates on a mass produced scale. I learned the intricacies of operating a tightly knit fashion business through working with small design teams such as Arthur Mendonça, Misura by Joeffer Caoc, Costello Tagliapietra and Jeremy Scott. My combined experiences have enhanced my breath of knowledge and have taught me to be multifaceted and versatile within this constantly expanding industry.
What’s the best advice you ever received from a mentor or peer?
The best advice I received and live by is to be constantly experimenting and investigating different methods of creating a collection. We are taught a singular viewpoint in fashion school, be it in sewing, draping or pattern making. However, there are many different approaches and solutions to the processes in fashion. I find the best way to create something interesting and inventive is to push the boundaries of the standards.
What’s the inspiration behind your S/S13 collection?
This collection, titled Zephyr, was inspired both by movement and changing patterns.
The draping in the collection was originally inspired by images of tornadoes. I experimented with jersey fabrics by twisting and folding it in different ways to see how the fabric would fall. Many of the techniques were experimental but my focal point was creating comfortable clothing while paying homage to the idea of movement in design.
How would you describe your clientele?
My client is someone who has an appreciation for tailored clothing and is able to achieve a graceful yet comfortable aesthetic. She loves interesting details and well made clothes, but understands the simplicity of effortless chic. She is definitely someone who recognizes and supports the burgeoning growth of Canadian design.
What are your biggest challenges and rewards as a designer?
My biggest challenge is sourcing fabrics and resources in Canada, as there are few wholesale fabric companies that exist locally.
The rewarding moments are creating clothing that resonate and are well received by my clients and peers. I thoroughly enjoy the creativity and hard work involved in the entire process of creating a collection. Each piece is challenging and different in its own way and the process of figuring out how to construct the garment can be immensely satisfying and rewarding.
Why did you choose to showcase your new collection off site at Oz Studios?
I chose Oz Studios because I liked the aesthetic of the space and it provided an intimate environment. I wanted to create a presentation instead of a runway show so my guests could enjoy the clothing in a more personal and interactive way. It was great to have the models positioned in a line up giving the audience an entire view and feel of the collection as a whole. People were able to get a closer look at the clothing as the models walked through the crowd, showcasing the movement of the clothing as well as providing a closer look at the quality, fit, workmanship and details.
Where do you hope your label will be in five years?
I hope my label will be in stores across Canada and in the U.S., as well as online and in magazines.
Are you working on anything exciting right now?
I am working on Fall 2013 which is exciting. I will also be participating in a pop-up shop in November hosted by Muttonhead at 88 Ossington Avenue on the second floor (running from November 2nd-11th), as well as working towards making S/S 13 Collection available online through my website.