Few designers know how to toe the line between sweet and salty like Montreal’s Eliza Faulkner. Yes, there are the oversized collars, pretty pastels and tufts of tulle for which she’s become known. But before you get a toothache, the Canadian designer adds some savoury sauciness to her creations with a body-con silhouette or a sheer shirt. And it’s this duality, mixed with her unapologetic approach to femininity, that has resulted in her success and culminated in the brand’s 10th anniversary.
But as she will tell you, being a designer in Canada is hard; lasting as a Canadian designer is even harder. “It kind of feels like a small miracle,” Faulkner shares via email of her namesake brand’s birthday. “This is a tough industry to be in, and there were many times I thought I’d give up. I’m proud to have made it this far!”
Below, the Canadian talent talks about Eliza Faulkner’s 10th anniversary, her unexpected love of rugby shirts and the show that’s currently bringing her joy.
How would you describe the style of the Eliza Faulkner brand in three words?
Bold, feminine, playful.
What’s something about your brand that would surprise people?
We make everything in Montreal, and every pattern and style is developed in our studio.
Congrats on Eliza Faulkner’s 10th anniversary! What’s one thing you wish you had known at the beginning?
I wish I knew a bit more about business. Design is really only about five per cent of what I do each day. I made so many expensive mistakes in the early days, so I wish I’d been less blind to the business side.
How do you find new inspiration after 10 years?
Finding it is never a problem — ideas are absolutely everywhere. Editing them down and getting focused on one idea for each collection is the hardest part for me.
What’s one piece that is especially meaningful to you from your new collection and why?
I love the rugby top. Growing up, one of my best friends had a family that was super involved in rugby, so I spent a lot of time watching it and hanging out at her rugby club. I grew up in a small, sporty town, and while I hated playing team sports, the outfits constantly inspired me. Our take on the rugby top has a frilly white collar, and I would have loved to wear this when I was younger, and now!
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What do you think is the eternal appeal of an oversized collar?
Big collars are feminine and super youthful (they verge on childish), but at the same time, they’re like a piece of armour — they’re bold, obvious, and loud. They make me feel protected, and they take up space.
What is your favourite and least favourite trend this season?
I love everything Y2K because that’s when I started getting into fashion as a teenager. It’s really fun to wear these pieces again but with a more grown-up flavour and a lot more confidence than I had at 16. However, there’s one item I can live without from that time, and it’s low-rise jeans. I think most millennial women will agree when they say they can’t go back to low-rise jeans. We’ve all been liberated, and I think it’s a trend that will die quickly.
How would you describe Montreal’s style?
I would say Montreal’s style is creative, practical, and totally unhinged. In the winter, it can be really functional (for obvious reasons), but in the summer, people take the opportunity to show off.
What are you currently watching or reading?
I just finished watching Blown Away on Netflix — a competition series about glass blowing. It’s an art form I didn’t know much about, and I loved seeing what they came up with each episode. It’s terrifying to see how quickly their work can just break. At least when you make clothes, you can unpick them and go back if you need to.
What are five items that are bringing you joy right now?
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