Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dark Silhouettes | An interview with Audrey Cantwell of OVATE.

 © April Lea

First of all who is Audrey Cantwell?
I grew up in a house my father built in the forest somewhere in rural Quebec, Canada. At the moment I live and work in a small loft apartment in Montreal with my boyfriend and our cat. I'm 23 years old. I am in love with nature, and fascinated with history, mythology and the occult. I listen to metal.

How did you first get involved in the fashion industry?
I moved to the city at 17 to study fashion design, I think I always knew what I wanted to do.

What lead to the birth of OVATE?
During school I made a few collections under several different names, I was trying to find my identity. I worked as a stylist for a year after graduating and spent all my free time designing the first Ovate collection.

For those who don't know about OVATE how would you describe it?
Ovate is a clothing line handmade in Montreal, mainly women's wear but I've begun adding a few men's piece as well. Dark neutral palette, draped silhouettes, washed leather accents. I would say Ovate clothing is dark and dramatic while still being wearable.

What is it that you think sets OVATE apart from other companies around at the moment?
One thing that is very different is that it's extremely personal. I am very closely connected to my line. Ovate is a one woman operation. I do everything myself, from pattern making to cutting and sewing each piece. As well as packing and shipping, managing social media networks, responding to emails,.. etc.

How do you culminate the ideas and pick the final pieces for each OVATE Collection? Can you explain that process?
I usually start with a theme or story that I've made up in my head. From there I start with a few garment ideas, and make those pieces. Then I try to put outfits together by seeing what's missing, and make those pieces. Often I end up with about twice as many pieces as I need and edit through them, I like to keep collections small and concise.

OVATE has a very distinctive look and feel about it. Where do you find your inspiration?
The forest, the north, history, Norse mythology, the occult, music (metal, neo folk, goth, classical..)

Where do you draw a lot of your own personal style from? Do you have any of your own style icons?
I don't really know, I wear a lot of Ovate, when I can afford it I treat myself to something from one of my favourite designers (Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester, Helmut Lang, Gareth Pugh..). My closet is all black with perhaps one or two white tops. I usually wear jeans or leather pants, a band tshirt and lots of rings. I do love an opportunity to dress up though, I own more than my fair share of floor length black gowns.

Is there any one artist/model/designer out there you would love to collaborate with but haven't yet?
There are a few but I am hoping to come in contact with them one of these days.

Have you had any high profile customers and can you tell us who?
I would say the highlight of the last year has been making Jarboe's tour wardrobe. I've been a huge fan of Swans and Jarboe for many years and was so honoured and elated when she contacted me to request some custom pieces a little over a year ago. By now she owns most of my collection as well. I absolutely adore that woman and cherish my relationship with her.

Are there any projects you are working on currently you can tell us about?
I am working on a new collection for spring, which will feature printed silks and cottons using photos taken by my muse and collaborator Krist Mort. I'm very excited about that! I'm working on some new jewelry as well.

What do you think the future holds for Audrey Cantwell and OVATE?
Only time will tell, for now I am simply thankful to be able to support myself by doing what I love.