Where did you grow up?
This was a really significant question in this profile because Stephanie designed a collection based on many aspects of her hometown Port Dover. She asked me if I had ever heard of it and I said of course for two reasons…I was born in Port Colborne and I ride a motorcycle (if you don’t know the significance of Port Dover and motorcycles…then you probably don’t ride a motorcycle). Her family has been there for generations, her great grandfather helped build the clock tower and she talked about the small town atmosphere and the beach.
Why did you chose to study fashion?
Stephanie was originally planning to study science, in particular genetics with a view to becoming a genetic counsellor but in her last year of high school she got very sick with meningitis and was hospitalized. After that experience she decided that she wanted to really do something that she loved as opposed to what others might expect. She had always drawn and painted and she decided that expressing her artistic vision with fabric was the way to go…in fact the first time she ever sewed anything was for her portfolio to get into Ryerson. She taught herself how to sew and after getting accepted into Ryerson she started working with a seamstress who taught her a lot more. She chose fashion because of the beauty of creating something three dimensional – art that could be worn on the body rather than just displayed statically.
What has been the most challenging thing about studying fashion at Ryerson?
She said the most challenging thing has been taking criticism. For the first year design project each student had to make a dress and the instructor did not think she could actually do something as complex as she was envisioning but she just stuck with her vision. It is pictured below on the left. She has experimented with shape throughout her time at Ryerson and in her third year made a piece that teachers also told her that they didn’t think she could do (pictured below on the right) …she had to carve the shape out of foam and drape fabric over it. She said that even though criticism has been challenging she thinks it has made her stronger. Pictures are from her website www.stephaniemoscallvarey.com
What advise would you give a new student studying fashion at Ryerson?
Without hesitation she said, “ask your teacher to be very honest with you”. Spoken like someone who has truly learned to accept constructive criticism. She said that you are not going to grow unless you have someone to challenge you.
Tell me about your collection.
Stephanie had about 5 ideas for her collection…one inspired by Lake Erie, one inspired by Russian history, one inspired by her travels to Haiti, and the one she ended up choosing is called Norfolk (after the county where Port Dover is located) and is based on her experiences as a child in Port Dover. She talked about playing with her sister and friend in the forest pretending they were wolves living there. She imagined a beautiful savage girl living in the forest, hunting for herself, doing archery – a childhood fantasy that inspired her creations. She incorporated camouflage because hunting was a big part of the town where she grew up. She made it more elegant by adding gold foil accents to the camouflage print that she found. She shared her sketch book with me and let me take some photos.
She wanted the collection to be very structural because she was inspired by architectural forms like wood forts. She experimented with lots of different fabrics, weights, layering and fusing. The amount of experimentation that was required to achieve the look that she wanted was the biggest challenge in her process of developing the collection. She has built pieces that are heavily structured, oversized and exaggerated to represent mobile shelters or habitats – the wearer could become enclosed by the garment if they crouch down while wearing them. Some of the pieces have high neck lines that shield part of the face to represent peering over a shelter at prey as a hunter would. This really is an art to wear collection and I have really enjoyed seeing each of her pieces come to life each week in class. Below is the sketch for her first outfit.
Who are your favourite designers, artists, fashion personalities?
Viktor and Rolf was the first team she named and then she said she is obsessed with Iris Van Herpen from Amsterdam.
What are your plans when you finish school?
Stephanie spent last summer working as a technical designer at Abercrombie and Fitch and has been offered a job when she graduates so she is heading off to Columbus, Ohio to work for them full-time in July. She didn’t expect this was where she would end up working but she is happy to have a first job – what comes next is wide open.