Bows and sequins will forever be near and dear to me. No matter how far from the graces they may fall in the fashion world, I will always love them. So, it is only natural that I am infatuated with Sophie Hulme - a designer who exploded onto the scene last season with military style jackets covered in sequins or exaggerated bows.
To my immense relief, the sequins and bows are here to stay; strongly represented in the Spring Summer '09 collection.

It was a pleasure to have a personal favourite Valerie Dumaine participate in our interview series. I love that Valerie works so well with balance. Each collection is a perfect blend of playful and edgy, all brought together in a clean and wearable package.

Paper-Doll: How did you get into fashion design?
Valerie Dumaine: I started designing clothes when I was very young...When I was around 10-11 I designed a lot of bathing suits (which is weird because I would never do that today) and dresses. I was drawing the whole kit, with the bag, jewelry and shoes! I had this obsession about clothes and getting the right look! The Cindy Lauper one! Then I started sewing and making clothes around 14-15 and did my first fashion show in high school dressing up 10 models with my creations!

What is the first thing you designed?
As a designer, for my first collection I did the Russian disko theme! So the first item was a blazer with a silk printed communist drawing.

What inspires you / your work?
Everything! Everything that surrounds me, the people, vinyl covers, movies - especially film noire genre.

Describe your Spring Summer 09 Collection.
It has a nautical twist, but not too much, little details, such as anchor buttons or square necklines. I also used a lot of eco fabrics, such as organic cottons and bamboo with linen, lyocell and silk. A lot of black and navy combined with grey and ivory with gold details! Very chic.

What is your favourite piece from your Spring Summer 09 Collection?
I have a few, but I really like the bamboo knit jumpsuit, which could be casual but very sexy too. So comfortable and light for summer itís perfect, it has that 70ís Faye Dunaway feel.
What is the most difficult thing about your job?
To be able to do everything! Be a business women and an artist! Taking care of production is a big job, and also quality control takes forever...

If you could collaborate with any designer / artist / musician / etc. on a single project, who would it be and what would you do?
Iíd love to collaborate with amazing shoe designer Jerome C. RousseauÖwe could make a collection together. It would be awesome to have shoes that I really like for my fashion show. Yes, my other passion is shoes!

What fashion era do you love?
I guess I love them all, really I like a lot the 20ís, 50ís, 60ís, 70ís and of course 80ís. I really like taking details from these era.

Do you have a real or imaginary muse?
Not really, I love the beauty and style of Anna Karina, but I wouldnít say she is a muse for me.
What fashion trend would you not be caught dead in?
None. I assume all styles I can have, even my jogging pants. Like I always say - it's not what you wear is how you wear it!

What is your favourite item in your personal wardrobe?
A dress that I found in a thrift store in LA...an amazing dress that looks like one of these witches of Dario Argento was wearing!

Where do you shop for clothes when you're not wearing your own?
Thrift shops.

What is on your current fashion wishlist?
No wish list!...I love miu miu, I'd love to have a dress from previous collection (cause surprisingly I'm not too crazy about their fall collection), but I can't afford this for sure, so itís not even on a list!
What is your favourite thing about the city you live in?
Montreal is an amazing city and I like itís diversity, the mix of European and American culture, and itís so laid back and creative!

What is next for your label?
Larger distribution in the US.

Visit: Valerie Dumaine website.
Shop: Valerie Dumaine boutique.
We asked our readers to suggest designers to include in our new interview series, and Vancouver based label flora&fauna was nominated quite a few times! Loved for her laid back west coast style and exclusive use of sustainable fabrics, designer Pauline Siu promises to be a Canadian designer to watch.

Paper-Doll: How did you get into fashion design?
Pauline Siu: Having always been a fan of DIY projects, I started designing and making clothes and doing custom alterations to clothing for myself and my friends as a hobby. Itís so much fun! I was going to school at York University, and found myself skipping classes to make clothes. Pretty soon after that, I left York to attend Ryerson for Fashion Design.

What is the first thing you designed?
As a kid, I was obsessed with Japanese paper dolls. I would spend hours and hours drawing and designing new clothes for them. I guess thatís not unlike what I do now!

What inspires you / your work?
My clothing designs are very much inspired by the shapes and colours found in nature and animal wildlife. Each season, I select a few favourite plants and animals as my themes by incorporating graphic artwork into some of the styles. For Spring Summer 2009, I chose squirrels and jellyfish! After a visit to the local wildlife rescue center, I fell in love with the baby squirrels. I am so happy that flora&fauna had the opportunity to sponsor one of the baby squirrels there - his name is Pepper, funded by our squirrel themed designs!

Describe your Spring Summer 09 Collection.
Earthy, sporty, comfy! We use super soft organic and sustainable fabrics, and incorporate functional details such as cute little pockets an shelf bralettes in our designs, making each piece adaptable to all different lifestyles.

What is your favourite piece from your Spring Summer 09 Collection?
I LOVE the Squirrel Tent top! Itís so versatile! It looks super cute with a pair of jeans or simple tights. The girls at Hum Clothing in Vancouver wear it over a white cap sleeve tee-shirt on a cooler day. Itís perfect for the beach, and looks great on all different body types!

What is the most difficult thing about your job?
Sometimes itís difficult to be in many roles at once Ė but I have a few wonderful helpers, and mentors, and 2 snuggly cats.
If you could collaborate with any designer / artist / musician / etc. on a single project, who would it be and what would you do?
Definitely BjŲrk!! I absolutely adore her uninhibited and unique style as a musician, artist, and fashion icon.

What fashion era do you love? Is there one that you don't like?
I love now! There is so many different styles to choose from, and so many eco-friendly and local options!! There isnít really an era that I detest, but I do disagree with trends that promote body mutilation Ė such as rib removal in the Victorian era, or Chinese feet binding. I guess I have a great appreciation for natural bodies and comfort!

Do you have a real or imaginary muse?
I am very much inspired by nature, but I always have friends and family in mind when I am working on a design. Each design has to be good enough for my favourite people to make it into the collection!


What fashion trend would you not be caught dead in?
As much as I love the aesthetics of corsets and high heels, Iíll canít bare to wear anything to restricts my movement. I would never forgive myself if I missed an opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of natureís little miracles because I couldnít get there fast enough.

What is your favourite item in your personal wardrobe?
Rubber boots!! They are a necessity here in rain-city, and I love the freedom of stomping around in muddy puddles and wading in the shallow water at the beach!

Where do you shop for clothes when you're not wearing your own?
I love shopping at artist markets, such as Epic and Portobello West! Itís fun meeting other designers and sometimes trading for each otherís clothes! If I am looking for something Canadian, Iíll head over to Hum or Twigg and Hottie on Main Street. Vincent Park is a great place to go for awesome jeans, or just to admire their beautiful dťcor!
What is on your current fashion wishlist?
I have my eye on the Dzunukíwa halter top by Kulus, itís a hankerchief style halter, and features an image from a Kwakwala folklore. I am also in love with all of Nicole Bridgerís dresses!

What is your favourite thing about the city you live in?
I love Vancouver. The ocean and mountains are so close, and the people here are amazing! There is a very happy and calm vibe in this city. There is so much cultural diversity, and some of the best restaurants!!

What is next for your label?
We are looking forward to adding some menís styles, and collaborating with local artists on some more fabulous artwork!

Visit: flora&fauna website.
Shop: flora&fauna store.
By the time summer rolls around, the last thing you normally want to think about is boots. Not this year! There have been a lot of great summer booties popping up all over the place, and we're excited to see them out in action...
Leather ankle boots with cut-out and gold stud detail by Lauren Moffat.
Available at: Urban Outfitters
Perforated leather ankle boot by 80%20.
Available at: Karmaloop
It feels as though the fashion world is truly embracing trousers this season. The choices are wide and varied, from high waisted, wide leg, tapered...At the forefront of this movement is Alex & Eli. This New York based label is dedicated to creating "intelligent suiting for women".
In their debut collection, designers Anna Zeman and Aja Singer focus on clean and modern lines, creating a look that is confident and sensual.

Definitely one of the most refreshing collections I've seen this season!

Visit: Alex & Eli
My love affair with Spring & Clifton started years ago with a puff sleeve, heart patterned sweater hanging in a tiny boutique in Brooklyn. It was love at first sight. An instant connection. A love so strong that to this day...Spring & Clifton still holds a place of its own in my heart (and closet). We are so excited that designer Michelle Zacks agreed to participate in our interview series...

Paper-Doll: How did you get into fashion design?
Michelle Zacks: I grew up in California & dreamed of going to New York to work in fashion...I really just followed a dream & it led me here. I think I always knew from a young age that I was going to grow up and be a ďFashion DesignerĒ. Ha! My mom said that even as a little girl I was extremely picky about what I wanted to wear. For example, she said I went through a long period where I would ONLY wear skirts- NO pants!

What is the first thing you designed?
Professionally...I got into the business slowly. I was making handmade t-shirts. They were under the label M.Z. They were re-worked tees that were cut & reassembled and embellished, etc, and I was taking them around to some of the cool spots in downtown New York & just seeing if the store owners wanted to carry them. They were interested - which was amazing! My first designs were in some amazing & pioneering New York stores like TG-170, Hedra Prue, Alife and Patricia Fields. The line grew organically from there.

What inspires you / your work?
Oh wow. I mean - everything?? The line between my work life & my ďreal lifeĒ is totally blurred, so pretty much anything I see or do or experience becomes an inspiration & ends up in the clothing somewhere.

Describe your Spring Summer 09 Collection.
I wanted it to be fun & colorful & light. It has a lot of the Spring & Clifton elements, that range from harder edges like grommets and lacing, to more girly touches, which I think come thru in the color palette and some of the ruffled pieces.
What is your favourite piece from your Spring Summer 09 Collection?
My personal favorite piece from this collection is the grommeted caftan

What is the most difficult thing about your job?
Reconciling the creative mind with the business mind. I think itís a struggle that every designer faces. You have to be smart about it - not let it consume you but you canít pretend it doesnít exist. It does make the game more interesting ;)

If you could collaborate with any designer / artist / musician / etc. on a single project, who would it be and what would you do?
Hmmmmmm. This is a really interesting question. I was extremely lucky this past year - Urban Outfitters approached me to do a collaboration line with them. Itís been a fantastic experience! The line is called S Loves C by Spring & Clifton and itís available exclusively at Urban Outfitters. So thatís actually a very cool collabo that actually has been realized.
What fashion era do you love? Is there one that you dislike?
I unabashedly love the 80s. I love the next, unknown eraÖ I love to dream about the future of fashion. I canít say thereís any era I dislike. I love all sorts of fashion for many different reasons.

Do you have a real or imaginary muse?
All my friends rolled up into 1 amazing girl. Iíve looked at different iconic women for various collections, but thereís not 1 muse that I refer to for every design...thereís a lot of crossover.

What fashion trend would you not be caught dead in?
I donít like any clothing that overpowers the person - so anything that hides my personality instead of going hand in hand, is something I wouldnít be comfortable in.

What is your favourite item in your personal wardrobe?
It changes. I keep a pile of clothes by my closetÖthose tend to be the items Iím wearing most at the moment. I just dig in the pile & make outfits :)
But I have a penchant for hoodies, anything with hearts (like a heart pendant I recently bought), a collection of weird black shoes, neon bright colored bras & undies, pyramid stud earrings and some threadbare vintage tees...
Where do you shop for clothes when you're not wearing your own?
I shop a lot on ebay. I like vintage. Thereís also a store in New York called Some Odd Rubies that Iíve been visiting a lot lately. I like the vibe of that store

What is on your current fashion wishlist?
What isnít on my current fashion wishlist? I want it all! (Iíd be very, very happy with a Cartier Love bracelet).

What is your favourite thing about the city you live in? (New York)
My friends.

What is next for your label?
Iíd like to evolve it into a full collection & bring in all kinds of fabrics, add accessories and things for the home. I look forward to that.

Visit: Spring & Clifton to view additional seasons & shopping links.

There comes a point in Canadian winters where it feels as though summer will never arrive. Luckily, Montreal based label Birds of North America has launched a new online boutique offering a beautiful selection of clothes to get us through the last couple of months of hell...

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