Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Kwantlen Polytechnic University - Stefania Bussey

Four years completed, her grad show over - Stefania Bussey is now ready to step out into the real world and show the fashion world what she has to offer. First it was important to take some time off to spend with her amazing, supportive family and then she decided to splurge on a great vacation - a month of travel in Europe. Now rested, rejuvenated and back in Vancouver, this rising talent is ready to make her own unique mark.

Bussey was born in Toronto, but raised in Owen Sound, Ontario. The middle child and only girl, she had leadership skills from day one, loved being the centre of attention and always knew exactly what she wanted. While she tried everything from soccer, to dance, to piano to book clubs - it was fashion that would eventually win her heart. 

It began with her grandmother, an artist who encouraged Bussey to live a creative life. "I think it was fairly obvious that I would end up in a creative field, but it wasn't until I turned 12 that fashion came into the picture. Every summer I would spend a week at my grandparent's house and my dear Nanny would come up with a theme or project for the week. That summer she decided to teach me how to sew. We picked out a pattern and some pink flowery cotton fabric and went to work.  Not only did the dress get made, but a matching purse and hat. I was absolutely in love."

In high school, Bussey had very little interest in science and math, but spent a lot of time obsessing over Betsey Johnson and creating personal versions of the designer's eccentric prom dresses.  Student council, rugby and social time each had a place in her life, but it was the sewing room where she could usually be found. "I was so fortunate to have an amazing sewing teacher and fashion program at my school. By my senior year  I had already taken all the fashion classes available. My teacher ended up creating another class for two of us who were serious about getting into fashion school. We independently worked on projects to build our portfolios."

High school was also a time when "heroin chic" was all the rage. Bussey remembers looking at those images in the glossy fashion magazine while her body was becoming curvier and wondering how she could possibly look like those unrealistic role models. With a strong sense of self, she dared to be different and showed her peers that being confident meant being your REAL self. Embracing who you are just as you are is still important to her today and she hopes to become involved in organizations that support body diversity such as Vancouver's EveryBODY is Beautiful.


Bussey wanted to be in a Fashion Design program that offered a degree and first chose to apply to Ryerson University.  When the spirit-crushing notice came that she was waitlisted, she booked a one way ticket to Vancouver and signed up for a Fashion Illustration course at Emily Carr.  It was there she would meet Kwantlen Polytechnic University instructors S Lee (now retired) and Michael Pope. It was a life changing moment.  "It didn't take me two minutes to forget Ryerson and apply at Kwantlen.  Having gone through both processes, I could tell  Kwantlen would become a community. They cared enough to spend three full days sifting through each applicant's work.  It really was a no brainer, Kwantlen had to be my school." 

School was full of many amazing, hilarious and enlightening moments.  It also had challenges such as the need to be more analytical about her work and the difficulty of learning Adobe Illustrator. But in the end patience, perseverance and the support of the school's fashion community created a safe and positive atmosphere that fueled her creativity. Learning meant trying by doing, failing, trying again differently and continuing on until you learned what you liked and how to do it successfully. 

When it came time to design a Fall/Winter 2013 grad collection Bussey went back to her roots - the beauty in body diversity.  "It's about empowering women of all shapes to feel confident.  I have targeted influential leaders who are often in the media - offering these female role models clothing that stands behind a vision for a healthier mindset." The garments offer freedom of expression - give in to art and unexpected ideas. Using an androgynous colour palette, she combined tailoring techniques with strategic draping to support the abstract beauty of female curves. Leathers mixed with cashmere wool, solid tencel with sheer silk, faux suedes, printed nylons and a shaggy fur fabric were combined to produce a very tactile and visually appealing set of looks. Finishing touches were created with the use of hand dying and surface design.  When asked her favourite piece she responded, "I'm obsessed with the structure vs. drape dress and the cracked lapel blazer, but I honestly love all the pieces."


Bussey is now ready to confidently step into the fashion world. More experience working in the industry is top of the list, as is finishing the last eight looks in her collection. But under this all is her continuing commitment to change the industry in a positive way.  "It's time that the fashion industry starts taking responsibility and tries to restore societal perceptions of beauty and body image. If women start believing their bodies are beautiful, then young girls will too. We'll all be happier when we're allowed to love our bodies just the way they are.

To contact Stefania Bussey, please go to her website at www.stefaniabussey.com.

For more information on the fashion program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, go to their website at www.kwantlen.ca/fashion/‎.

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