Designers Shawna Robinson and Natalie Sydoruk have been collaborating since Fall 2009 on their their clothing line LABEL. Shawna, a freelance wardrobe stylist, and Natalie, a fashion design graduate and model, set out to reinvent basics. The result? Easy to wear but immediately chic eco-friendly wardrobe staples. Shawna and Natalie, busy designing SS12, took some time to participate in our designer interviews series.

How did you get into fashion design?
Shawna: Since I donít have a technical background in fashion design, I started designing when I met Natalie, who was able to make it all a reality.
Natalie: I was an art student in university and wanted to find a career that would allow me to create something practical.

What is the first thing you designed (personally or professionally)?
Shawna:I used to cut up and resew my clothes as a kid. I remember once making a bandeau out of a pair of old sweatpants.
Natalie:Growing up, pants were never long enough for me, so I got my mom to teach me how to sew a pair.

When did you launch LABEL?
We started working together on one off pieces in 2007, but we didnít launch our first full collection until Fall 2009.

What inspires you / your work?
Shawna: Iím inspired by art, music, and my friends. I like to think of a certain mood when creating a collection, so I always go to those sources to feel moved.
Natalie: Iím inspired by people around me and also the functionality of clothing. I like to make things look effortless yet stylish.
Describe your SSí11 Collection.
Our spring collection was inspired by 70s laid back glamour mixed with a sporty vibe.

What is your favourite piece from your SSí11 Collection?
Shawna: The varsity singlet in D- is my fave.
Natalie: The Moss robe and the Cherie blouse.
(The Moss Robe and Varsity Singlet are pictured above)

Did you have a personal soundtrack or a favourite album that you listened to while working on SSí11?
Shawna: Right now Iím all about Angus & Julia Stone, but it changes daily.
Natalie: I love all types of music but The Smiths are my favourite.
What area of your work do you enjoy the most?
Shawna: I enjoy the post collection work, such as styling photo shoots, collaborating with amazing photographers, hair and makeup people, and models. I also love the excitement of planning a show and showing off our hard work to the world.

What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
Shawna: I love it all. Itís hard, but so gratifying.
Natalie: Balancing all of the different tasks involved and making sure everything on schedule is difficult at times.

What is the most surprising thing that has happened to you as a designer?
Shawna: Every season I look at the collection and am completely surprised that it was once just an idea and a bunch of messy illustrations, and now itís a real, tangible thing.
Natalie: I was surprised when I won the Flare competition during my graduating year at Ryerson.

If you could collaborate with any designer / artist / musician / etc. on a single project, who would it be and what would you do?
Weíre currently collaborating with accessories label, The Leather Atelier to make sustainable, durable bags. This is something weíve wanted to do for a long time so weíre really happy about that.

If you could design a wardrobe for any one person (past/present/real/fictional), who would it be?
Shawna: I am seriously obsessed with Taylor Tomasi Hill right now. I think fashion editors have the greatest style out of anyone. Itís totally a job requirement!
Natalie: I love the way Kate Moss wears clothes, and Iíd love to see how she would incorporate LABEL into her wardrobe.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Shawna: Iím always wearing a mix of vintage, high end, and independent labels. I rarely wear uncomfortable things, since my days are so jam packed I need to be able to move around with ease.
Natalie: Very random! Half of the time I just dress simply (I need to be comfortable when in the studio) but when I go out at night I love to experiment with different looks.

What is your favourite item in your personal wardrobe?
Shawna: Right now, I canít take off my Frye motorcycle boots. They look amazing with our new collection.
Natalie:I have a few classic staples that I wear with everything, what comes to mind are my Balmain sandals and an Hermes ďHĒ belt. I love wearing these types of pieces with LABEL.

Where do you shop for clothes when you're not wearing your own designs?
Shawna: Vintage stores, Holt Renfrew and Chasse Gardee in Toronto, and La Garconne and Net-a-Porter online.
Natalie: Vintage stores.

What is on your current fashion wishlist?
Shawna: Acne Halo wedges, a Chanel 2.55, and some cool sunglasses.
Natalie: Chloe tailored pants.

What fashion trend would you not be caught dead in?
Shawna: Iíll try anything once!
Natalie: We all make fashion mistakes from time to time. What I think is important is to be creative and unique.
What is the one item that every woman should have in her closet?
Shawna: It sounds boring but the perfect white dress shirt. Iíve found that what Iím really lacking is good basics that I can use to bring my crazier pieces down to earth.
Natalie:Good layering pieces are essential Ė like the perfect leather legging.

What is your favourite thing about the city you live in? (Toronto)
Shawna: Bike riding through Trinity Bellwoods park in the summer time.
Natalie: I love that there are so many different neighbourhoods, each with their own unique characteristics.

If you couldnít be a fashion designer, what other area of interest would you like to explore?
Shawna: Probably a stylist or a shop owner.
Natalie: I would teach horseback riding

What is next for your label?
Weíre working on our Spring 2012 collection which is inspired by magic. We are going to be traveling to a few trade shows and hopefully break into the US and European markets.

Visit: LABEL
I was first introduced to ULTRA through my work with LabelGazer - a site dedicated to outstanding eco-friendly fashion. It is not very often that an eco-conscious label comes across my desk that is quite so bold and modern as ULTRA. Another surprising fact about the Malaysian based label? They're new kids on the block - something you'd never assume looking at the strength of their debut collection, pictured here. It was a pleasure to have ULTRA designers Jon and Syahmi participate in our designer interview series.

Paper-Doll: How did you get into fashion design?
Jon, designer for ULTRA: After wrapping up my course in Illustration, I decided to turn my hobby which was fashion into my passion.
Syahmi, designer for ULTRA: I had always been interested in drawing since I was small then I saw Esteban Cortazar being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. I was 12 years old at the time and he was 16. That was how I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

What is the first thing you designed (personally or professionally)?
Syahmi: Ever since then, I started buying fashion magazines and piling on knowledge on everything about fashion. I started sketching and putting ideas on so-called collection at the time but as far as I could remember one of my first designs was a singlet paired with a flared denim with a drawstring hem.
Jon: The first thing I designed personally was my very own book cover, I made an illustration as the cover with pop-ups.

When did you launch ULTRA?
Jon: It was over a year ago with the team Anita, Chanela, Syahmi and myself. It wasn't anything grand but those were my fondest moments.
Syahmi: Sept/Oct 2010.
Describe your SS11 Collection.
Jon: Our Ultra SS11 was like a debut collection which showcases our identity, strength and design aesthetics that defines our label. It's about being bold, effortless and chic at the same time while putting in thoughts for the current environment and lifestyle situation.
Syahmi: Since itís our debut collection, we wanted to portray who is this ULTRA woman. All of us exchange ideas and giving input and personality to this idealistic person that breathes the essence of ULTRA. So Spring/Summer was based on that foundation. Itís about this woman who rebels herself towards the modern world with a sustainable conscious.

What is your favourite piece from your SS11 Collection?
Jon: I like the lapel pants with a ribbon sash, it's versatile and effortless.
Syahmi: Itís definitely our Black and White Iconic Dresses.

Did you have a personal soundtrack or a favourite album that you listened to while working on SS11?
Jon: Lamb's Gabriel
Syahmi: Yes, we did. We had a playlist from Empire of The Sun to David Bowie to Lennie Kravitz to Chromeo. Music plays an important role in the creative process
What area of your work do you enjoy the most?
Jon: Designing and fabric hunting.
Syahmi: The designing process.

What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
Jon: Production and logistics, I'm not one to deal with logics. I lose my way very fast on something I don't have much interest in, but I'm beginning to fix that and getting use to it now, it's all part of the passion you have succumbed to.
Syahmi: Time

What is the most surprising thing that has happened to you as a designer?
Jon: Gaining awards, recognition and all these media in just a year and half, I never thought I would be able to achieve this much.
Syahmi: The most surprising thing that has ever happened to me as a designer is creating a design exactly the same as to the sketch deign. I learned this in college. It is always easier to design than making it.

If you could collaborate with any designer / artist / musician / etc. on a single project, who would it be and what would you do?
Jon: Jamie Hewlett and hopefully a series of artworks and maybe an interpretation of my designs in his vision.
Syahmi: If I could collaborate with anyone it would probably be with Phillip Crangi making accessories and Loubotins for shoes! My answer could be and endless list!

If you could design a wardrobe for any one person (past/present/real/fictional), who would it be?
Jon: Hikaru Utada, she's all about her passion and she's eccentric, anything she wears induces a certain fantasy to it.
Syahmi: Leigh Lezark for today, Twiggy for the past and Marge Simpson for fictional.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Jon: I put on anything that is basic and slouchy a little. I try to look good lazy.
Syahmi: I have to say I am very eclectic when it comes to my own personal style but I am always influenced by rock and roll

What is your favourite item in your personal wardrobe?
Jon: My Alexander Wang Frankie Creeper boots.
Syahmi: My shoes! My brother and me share the same shoe size so itís funny how our shoe collection shows how we have evolved from boys to men. It holds up a lot of memories growing up.

Where do you shop for clothes?
Jon: I'd go anywhere that is interesting and looks good.
Syahmi: I wish I had the time to make my own clothes but then again shopping around for clothes or accessories always help take the edge off for that day.

What is on your current fashion wishlist?
Jon: Balenciaga's SS11 patent buckle shoes.
Syahmi: It has always been a bespoke suit from Tom Ford.

What fashion trend would you not be caught dead in?
Jon: Men in leggings and skirts.
Syahmi: Crocs.
What is the one item that every woman should have in her closet?
Jon: One good well fitted blazer that is modern, with new cuts yet versatile to be worn over and over in many styles.
Syahmi: A good pair of Spanx.

What is your favourite thing about the city you live in? (Kuala Lumpur)
Jon: My loves and food.
Syahmi: My favourite thing about the city Iím living in would probably be the food

If you couldnít be a fashion designer, what other area of interest would you like to explore?
Syahmi: If I am not a fashion designer I would probably be in the cooking industry. A chef perhaps.
Jon: Culinary arts.

What is next for your label?
Syahmi: Incorporating cutting edge 3d technology as well as China campaigns introducing our label and the sustainable lifestyle into the masses. A wearable collection toned down from our RTW as well as an ULTRA workshop in partnership with local retail Publika. And also participation in the Ethical Fashion Show in Paris in September to showcase our fall collections.
Jon: The ability to fly higher.

Visit: ULTRA
I wasn't going to post any more shoes for a while, but whoah....how great are these Senso Ruzac Wedges?
Could there be a better way to step into Fall? Solestruck has the Dolce Vita Jemma Fall Boots available for pre-order!
In fashion, heels dominate. But sometimes you just want a pair of flats to add a little feminine touch to an outfit without overdressing.

Marais USA are known for their Chelsea boots and Oxfords, but they also have a nice selection of pretty summer flats.
Visit: Marais USA
I love how Bonadrag has paired Lonely and Shakuhachi. Perfection!
Visit: Bonadrag
Another shoe obsession, this time at least more appropriate for the season - the Beaded Delphine Sandal by Matt Bernson.
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