Where did you grow up?
Lincole was born in Singapore and when she was a year and a half old her family moved to Hong Kong and then when she was three they moved to Vancouver. When Lincole and her twin brother completed high school her parents moved back to Hong Kong. Her brother still lives in Vancouver and she of course lives in Toronto. Lincole speaks Chinese and expressed gratitude that her parents insisted that when she spoke with them she speak Chinese which really made it possible for her to grow up truly bilingual.
How did you become interested in fashion?
Lincole said that she has always been interested in it…her Grandmother worked in a weaving factory in Hong Kong and was very “crafty” as is Lincole. She said interest in such things completely skipped her mom. In grade 7 she had a teacher who took interest in her and her talent and was very supportive and gave her all fashion magazines she was finished with. She continued to receive these “hand-me-down” magazines throughout high school and probably knew that she would study fashion or pursue her interest in fashion professionally since grade 7. She applied to schools in New York and to Ryerson but really could not afford to move to New York and came to Ryerson after being admitted into the FashionDesign program. She said that her parents have been super supportive and really want her to do something with her life that makes her happy.
Did you how to sew before you came here?
Lincole took sewing in school in grade 8 and learned as she went along…before preparing her portfolio for her application to Ryerson she took some intensive sewing classes and made a coat and like so many of the other fashion students I have talked to…she made her own prom dress. She learned by doing, lots or practice and trial and error.
I asked her what she likes to sew most – she said coats which is not surprising since she chose to create an outerwear collection for her capstone project. I asked her what she does not like to sew and never wants to sew again…no hesitation…chiffon. I had a good chuckle at this point since my final outfit which I just started to construct include a tunic made of silk chiffon.
What did you learn at Ryerson that you did not already know?
She said she has accumulated so much information and was introduced to computer pattern drafting and use of CAD (computer aided design) and grading patterns, etc. Lincole has also been completing a minor in marketing as part of her time at Ryerson.
How did you arrive at the decision to do an outerwear collection for you final 4th year project and tell me about your process?
She had made a coat for a project in 3rd year and this past summer she worked at Abercrombie and Fitch in men’s outerwear and really loved it. She really wanted to do a collection inspired by the classic Hudson’s Bay blanket…describing herself as “obsessed with those stripes”. She had interned previously at the Bay and talked to people there about whether she could use the stripe pattern and colours for her collection and was told no because of copyright issues. She decided that she did definitely want to do outwear but wanted to make sure it was something really special so she chose to make her own fabrics…beautiful handmade felted wool and cashmere. She basically taught herself how to create her own felted textiles by consulting with a friend who had done it before and looking for information on the internet.
Felting involves building layers of fibre using moisture, heat and pressure to create a textile. I took some pictures of the space where she was working…with a base laid out on a bamboo matt on a table in the lab covered in plastic.
When asked about her process she said that she started with her inspiration board…she wanted something very organic using only natural fibres since she is a self-described “fibre snob”. No synthetic fibres for this woman. She was inspired by natural forms, geometric shapes, organic prints, marbling…and lots of experimentation with the fibres. I asked her is she started with the textile and then designed coats for the textile or whether she started with the coat design and then created textile for that coat. The answer was a little of both.
When showing her textile samples and sketches to the visiting designers at the beginning of the fall she got amazing and very encouraging feedback…they loved what she was doing.
She used different white and charcoal coloured fibre to create interesting textures and patterns in the finished felt. She pulled out some of the finished fabric that she had made for the final coat that she still needs to construct. The fabric is beautiful and soft and so luxurious. The price point for a collection like hers would be very high given the handmade textiles. This decision and process was such as huge commitment because it takes so long to make each of the pieces of fabric. I am so impressed with what she has accomplished since September.She has also made five identical dresses to be worn under each coat.
What has your experience been like at Ryerson and what have been your biggest challenges?
Lincole said she has really learned a lot technically but sometimes would like the opportunity to be more creative. The 4th year collection really has given the students the opportunity to be creative and do what they want but sometimes the time crunch in trying to do all the work can impact the ability to be as creative as they would like. Only so much can be accomplished in the time frame available. She said that her biggest challenge has been time management, a challenge that she knows other students have had to overcome as well. She learned by the end of third year that she really needs to start her projects early…as soon as they are assigned…these projects cannot be done or done well if left to the last minute.
What advice would you give to a new student?
She said “make sure you really want to be here”. When I probed further she said that new students need to understand that its not just about pretty clothes and its not like “project runway”…it is really hard work. She said that you really have to love it, want to be here and be willing to learn, be open to new things and be ready to put in the time and work required to complete the program. She would also tell them that the amount of time spent working on a project will be reflected in their grades. She said it is not as glamorous as some applicants might imagine.
What comes next…what are you hoping to do in the future?
Lincole said she would like to work in London or New York. Her ultimate dream is to be a creative director for a big luxury fashion house…while that feels very much like an impossible dream she said that she really just hopes to be working as a designer and to be happy.
Who are your favourite designers?
She named a few names and she said that she really just loves minimal chic…easy wearable luxurious clothes. The names… Pheobe Fillo at Celine, Jenna Lyons at J Crew and Mary Kate and Ashley’s collection The Row.
We talked a lot about her conversations with students at other fashion schools and the kinds of shows, competitions and opportunities that students at other schools have and how that compares to Ryerson. We talked about what we each have left to do…Lincole is finishing up the construction of her 4th coat and still has to make some more fabric for her 5th and final coat. But she needs to finish everything in advance because she has arranged to have all her pieces photographed on a model for her portfolio. The photo shoot is actually the most important end result as it is what she will take with her to show people as she starts her job search. If you want to see more of Lincole’s work check out her website at www.lincoletsui.com.
Last thing…Lincole would like to sell her coats, they are expensive but truly one of a kind and I would probably consider buying one myself if they weren’t all way too small for me…she suggested a custom made order…I am thinking about it. While I ponder the purchase of a handmade, custom made for me coat here are some more pictures of a couple of her finished coats and some details like an under collar in leather…so luxurious!