As an emerging force in the Toronto fashion industry, Adrienne Butikofer has proven herself a designer to watch for. With ‘TFI New Label’s Competition Finalist’ and ‘NOW Magazine Designer Grand Prize Winner’ titles under her belt, her sense of fashion design is tremendously original and fine in styling. With focus on vintage-gone-modern and blending menswear into her feminine clothing line, Butikofer is a highly wearable and lively brand to embrace. Check out the Q&A after the jump.
- What was your greatest take away from being a TFI New Labels Competition Finalist?
In many ways, confidence- in my technical ability as a designer, stylistically, personally and professionally. I tried to take heed to everything the new labels judges told me. Not that I was their puppet, but it was so helpful having that feedback from people I respect. That’s a difficult thing about being a solo young designer starting out. Your family and friends tell you everything is great even if maybe it isn’t. The new labels judges did not mince words. I learned how to stand up for my work, even if I knew what they were saying was right. I never let it be about my ego, just about the fact that I want this to be my career, and a business.
- Caninja makes me chuckle – love the patterns. What does Caninja make you think of?
Caninja is derived from Canadian Ninja- the Canadian Climate Fighter. The original Caninja is a hood/scarf/balaclava polymorphic accessory created to fight all levels of the winter chill. Believe me, when it’s minus 20 (or 30 or 40) and blowing snow and you’ve got it snapped up to the top ninja style, you really do feel like the smartest, (warmest), most invincible climate fighting hero that ever lived. The patterns are crazy because I cut them out of recycled sweaters, the wilder the better in my opinion. Because when its minus 20 and blowing snow, you might as well have something to laugh about.Caninja is where I let my humorous side come out. I used to make my clothing funny, but learned to edit that part out and channel it into Caninja. It’s very tongue in cheek, very sarcastic, very Canadian. It’s a product of my prairie upbringing. Prairie winters are really cold, the wind is always blowing- pretty much awful. But prairie people have a great sense of humour about it and they always dress for the weather in excess.
- How do you make menswear feminine?
Fit is important, a low neckline doesn’t hurt, occasionally I will add a flower print detail or a pearl button for irony and to drive the point home. But really, it’s the girl in the altered menswear that is the icing on the cake.
- What’s your favourite texture of the moment (for clothing)?
I am not that into texture at the moment. I like things a little more slick and smooth. Really furry, chunky or slubby fabrics look gross to me- or maybe I think about how easily with wear that they will start to look gross- matted and pilly, I have spent so many, many, many long hours shaving sweaters for Caninjas, slubbiness makes me crazy!! I like tiny textures, closely woven or knitted patterns that can only be seen up close, and the contrast of shiny vs matte, flowy vs tailored, and creating interesting patterns through complex cutting.
- Help me fill in the blank: best place to shop vintage in Toronto is _____?
VV! Value Village! The further away from Toronto you can get, the better. I love the hunt.
- We have one thing in common: we’ve both made dresses out of newspaper. Any tips for those who have yet to try it?
Try to think beyond the newspaper, but don’t forget you’re working with paper at the same time. Play around and experiment. Make a great base out of fabric that you can attach the paper too. I made mine very fitted so that I knew when I was molding the paper to the dress it would fit well, and when I was creating volume, I knew exactly how much. Don’t be too precious about it- you’re making a dress out of paper, why not use a stapler to put it together?!
- What is the best lesson in fashion that you have learned?
Editing is a big one, and a constant learning process. I am going to let myself go a little in the next collection though and let my creative energies be free, along with an intelligent balance of restraint. It’s something that can be learned- taste, restraint, and how to edit. I am learning how to balance that with my natural instinct to push myself and make things craaazy.
- Tell us in a nutshell the differences between Winnipeg and Toronto (fashion or not)?
Winnipeg is wayyy cooler. Haha. Just kidding, Toronto, don’t be so defensive.
Winnipeg is so far removed from a “major centre” like Toronto or Vancouver, that it’s really unaffected by the hierarchical “keeping up” that goes along with a big city. It’s a happy, jolly, super creative place where the people are far more chilled out, and less defensive and entitled. Winnipeg is more blue collar, the poverty is more in your face than it is here, and it’s far less gentrified. It’s kind of a hard core town. $300,000 dollars will almost buy you a riverfront mansion in Winnipeg.Lately, I am finding that Toronto has small town characteristics similar to Winnipeg. Everyone knows everyone in Toronto, or at least knows someone who you know- kind of astounding in a city of 4 million. Maybe it’s because people are so scene oriented here.
- If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Jeez Louise. Assuming that One Outfit World is also room temperature- a short blousy dress with pockets, paired with skinny sweats. Comfortable, kind of sexy, feminine, tom boyish, perfect.
- As more people are becoming aware of your status as an emerging fashion talent in Toronto, what are your next plans for the line?
I am producing my fall line to be sold in a few local boutiques, and I am beginning to work on spring 09.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I can tell you that the Adrienne Butikofer Spring/Summer ‘09 collection is brought to you by the letter. . . B.