Sitting down with fashion design’s top alumnus

Ryerson University fashion design grad Lucian Matis will host two runway shows at World MasterCard Fashion Week each season; this is common knowledge to every Toronto fashion journalist.

This year, Matis by Lucian Matis Fall/Winter 2013 collection made its debut on the third day of Fashion Week, which had journalists thinking it would be a simple spring line with an  assortment of animal and feather prints based off a more colourful palette. But the line  progressed from the aforementioned prints to a set of plaid looks done in navy and hunter green, highlighting the clash between the wild and civilized worlds.

On the final day of Fashion Week at an off-site location, the Lucian Matis Fall/Winter 2013 collection was presented — a very monochromatic and simple line with a lot of structured silhouettes focusing on the shapes of the garments.

The models sashayed down the runway at the One King West Hotel, donning looks that made prominent use of fur, a clear trend for fall, turtlenecks and carefully architectured sleeves.

Matis may have opted for a much restrained palette — think black, grey and cream — but that didn’t stop him from designing a piece that showcased his signature intricate details.

Opening this show was the highly anticipated Baileys dress — included in its design were pieces of glass from Baileys bottles. This glamorous ordeal inspired by the shape of the new bottle of the Irish Cream drink stood on its own as a bold piece that showed elegance and femininity, yet complemented the collection that was soon to follow.

I caught up with the designer backstage after his show to talk inspiration, the differences between the two collections and how he created the glass dress.

What was the inspiration behind your Matis by Lucian Matis collection?

The inspiration behind the collection was the modern woman meets the wild woman of the Amazons. It’s a contrast between the two worlds. That’s the reason why I used the animal prints and the feather prints in contrast with the floral. We used beautiful garden, deep saturated colours in contrast with  cable and bouclé fabrics. The line also uses contrasts between solids and texture fabrics – very bold prints.

How long did it take you to create the collection – to come up with the idea and construct?

The collection took me around two months to create, from choosing the fabrics to the completion of the collection.

What was your favorite outfit from this collection? 

I’d say the finale piece  (a floor-length, plaid dress with puffed sleeves to boot) – it’s dramatic, it’s fluid, it’s beautiful, it’s feminine.

When you’re designing, what type of a woman are you designing for? 

Somebody who’s feminine, sensual, elegant and fashionable – fashionable above all. That’s what I think I’m thinking of, especially for the Lucian Matis collection. The collection is all about making a statement. It’s more about just having comfortable clothing. Not that they’re uncomfortable, it’s just that I add the element of … the sleeves are a little bit bigger, everything is overly exaggerated.

Where do you look for inspiration when designing? 

In this particular collection, I had the idea of the ivory, grey and black for a while, and I wanted to explore it in a more architectural way because the colours tend to be dull. I wanted to make it very exciting from the silhouettes. That’s the contrast that I played with. But really, these are just the three colours that I thought about. I wanted to create a fantasy, that’s why I called it a monochromatic fantasy.

Where did you come up with the idea of designing a Baileys dress? 

Final walk for Matis By Lucian Matis. Photographed by Sabina Sohail

Final walk for Matis By Lucian Matis. Photographed by Sabina Sohail

When they launched the new bottle – first of all I’m a big fan of the drink as you can see – I wanted to do something inspired by it because I really love their monogram. And I thought it really reminds me of my current season Fall/Winter 2013, the macramé. So I thought, oh this could be a very beautiful collaboration  with a drink — it’s so silky and it’s almost feminine, if I can say that. I can create femininity in a dress inspired by it while they were saying goodbye to their earlier bottle design, so it was a perfect marriage.

Take me through the process behind the making of the dress.

I designed the dress specifically for Baileys. It’s quite a piece,  probably weighing 30 to 40 pounds.  I feel bad for the model because it’s such a heavy gown. It took us around 170 to 180 hours to create. It’s quite intense because the whole bodice is handmade, so the lace is created by hand and it took a very long time. And then the bottom, breaking the bottles … we broke probably 35 bottles until we found the right pieces to put on – not too sharp and safe. There are also subliminal messages in the macramé. I made it so there’s double B’s in places. You don’t know but you know subconsciously it’s kind of registering.

You graduated from Ryerson’s fashion design program. What advice do you have for up-and-coming designers? 

The advice I have is to make sure that you love what you do because it’s a lot of work, a lot of dedication to this job. It’s not all glamour.

Describe your style in three words.

I can do it in two words: casual chic.

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