Where did you grow up?
Carly grew up in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Her family has a landscaping business there. Having grown up in the Niagara region myself and having worked in Niagara-on-the Lake in a former life we had some common ground immediately.
What made you want to study fashion?
Carly said that growing up she was always creative and enjoyed doing crafts and that when her mom found a notice about a sewing class for kids they signed her up. That is where it all started. Carly also attended an arts high school and was a figure skater. As a figure skater she wasn’t happy with some of the options for costumes so she started making her own. She also made her own prom dress.
What have you learned here at Ryerson and what has been your biggest challenge?
The big thing that she learned here was pattern drafting but she has found pattern drafting more difficult than draping. Multi-tasking and making sure everything gets done on time has also been a challenge but definitely her biggest challenge was learning grading. Grading is the process of creating the same pattern in multiple sizes.
What advice would you give a new student?
She said they should be prepared to spend a lot of money. The program is really expensive since they need to buy all their own supplies and fabric. I have really come to understand this as I have spent thousands of dollars to date on fabric alone. I can’t even imagine how challenging this is for a student who is not working full-time or does not have access to enough funding…I know that some students have to make tradeoffs and are not able to use the fabrics that they would most like to use if they are very expensive.
Carly also said she would advise new students to understand that most projects will take much longer than they imagine so to plan their time carefully and be prepared to spend a great deal of time outside of class working on their projects.
We talked about the fact that some students do all their out of class work in the lab on campus and some do all their work at home. She said that there is a real advantage to working in the lab as there are other students to consult and discuss challenging problems with because everyone is very open and helpful.
Tell me about your collection.
She started thinking about the collection in third year. Carly went on exchange to New Zealand last year at Aukland’s University of Technology in their textiles program. What an amazing opportunity available to Ryerson fashion students. She learned a lot about knit wear and the construction of knitwear using knitting machines. She learned to create prints and she found the instructors very helpful in her short time there. She was in New Zealand from mid February until July. She learned about some experimental technologies in a class there and found an LED lighting system that she thought she could bring into her collection for 4th year. It is a circuit with lights that are programmed on a computer that can be built into the clothing. She also learned how to do laser cutting on fabric and she was exposed to special thermal chromatic inks that change colour based on heat. She talked about how a designer named Lauren Bowker had used these inks in an art to wear collection called The Unseen. I promised her I would check it out…very cool!
She has created an evening wear collection that borders on costume that uses all of these techniques and technology. Unfortunately she had some limitations related to cost and could only using the lighting system in one of the outfits. She has made a long dress with laser cut leather and lights. She has created some separates and a jumpsuit. She has used a lot of leather and feathers and all the outfits have leather trim highlighted with the thermal chromatic inks. She has been able to manage it all by completing a lot of her work over the December break.
It was fascinating to listen to her talk about the challenges of incorporating the technology and how the technology works. Lots of experimentation and creativity required. She kindly let me take some pictures of a few of the completed pieces.
What are your plans after you complete the program at Ryerson?
She really doesn’t feel ready to think about this yet or lay out a set plan. She has had some experience working in wardrobe in the film industry and may pursue that for the summer to immediately make some money. She has done some internships at small companies…one that creates lingerie and swimwear called Dear Frankie, one that makes comfortable clothing for curvy customers inspired by the needs of cancer patients called Allistyle…she has had lots of really interesting and diverse experiences while in the program.
Who is your favourite designer? Who inspires you?
Carly is drawn to what she called “the classics” like Valentino – she loves how feminine and elegant his collections were. She also loves Alexander McQueen and how innovative and different the work is there.
Anything else you want to share about your experience here?
She had really great things to say about the program and the instructors in fashion – she described then as supportive, accessible and really open to helping students.
What a pleasure to chat with Carly.