Friday, May 8, 2015

University of the Fraser Valley - Juliet Loewen



On April 29th, I was treated to another great fashion show at the University of the Fraser Valley's (UFV) Absolute Style 2015.  The trek to Abbotsford was a little difficult this time with accidents blocking all routes, but I fortunately made it in lots of time as I totally miscalculated and left an hour earlier than usually needed.

First order of the day was snagging the perfect seat - I think I pick the same every year. Next was my all-important wander through the student portfolios. This helps me get a feel for the student's creativity, especially when I look at their fashion illustrations.  Next was a wander out to the foyer to enjoy a lovely wine and cheese reception and a chance to mingle with others in attendance.

Then it was time for the show.  One portfolio that had caught my eye was Juliet Loewen's and during the runway show - this instinct proved bang-on.  The clothes were wearable, sellable and yet had interesting design elements. When I sent out interview requests to over ten students from three different schools, she was the first to respond and had her completed Q&A/illustrations back to me in record time.  This kind of enthusiasm - along with her obvious talent - bodes well for her future in this competitive industry.

So here without further ado I offer you a new designer I hope to see a lot more of - Juliet Loewen.

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Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I was born in Paraguay (South America) and grew up in a little Mennonite town called Filadelfia, which is located in the north of Paraguay called the Chaco. So, I'm a long way from home

What did you like when you were young?
I have always been interested in clothes and liked to try new things and dress differently then people around me, but since I speak three languages (German-native language, Spanish-official language of Paraguay, English) I thought that becoming a translator would be a great idea. So when I was younger I actually thought I had my career goal figured out. And I don't remember why exactly I changed my mind, I guess it was when I took sewing in High School or when people started asking me what I wanted to do after graduating, but my love for Fashion became stronger and I actually began to do my research on potential universities. Often while I was shopping I looked at clothing and thought, I don't like this detail or the way that is sewn. So, becoming a Fashion Designer would give me the opportunity to create my own clothing the way I would like it and other people who like my style as well.

What were your interests in High School?

If I had to pick one interest I would say art or sports. Back then I was more athletic and I actually enjoyed sports. As well as all the art classes I took during elementary through high school. I love to create things, whatever they may be.





Looking back, can you remember any signs that you would end up in fashion? A personal story would be great here.

Not before 10th Grade, as it was then when I started to develop my love for fashion more and more and my decision to become one became clearer. My sisters were close to graduating from 12th Grade and were always being asked what they wanted to do after, or if they wanted to study something. And sometimes I was standing beside them and then I was being asked if I already knew what I wanted to do, and I never knew what to answer. I was torn between becoming a translator and fashion designer, but my love for fashion was bigger and I felt that that was the direction I was supposed to go.

Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design. Was you family supportive?

Pretty much the same answer I gave for question #4. It was in 10th Grade when I figured out where life was taking me and I also told my parents that I wanted to study in Canada. I don't know exactly how they felt about that idea at first, but they were very supportive all the way. The final decision of me moving here and the realization that this was actually happening was made in two weeks. It happened really quick. Nonetheless they have been there for me since day one, supporting me financially and in any other way possible.

Why did you choose to study at the University of the Fraser Valley?

The closest university to Filadelfia was 4 hours away in our capital city Asunción and I didn't really feel like living there, even though both my sisters live there right now and are studying as well, but my dream has always been to go abroad and study somewhere else, mainly Canada, because most of my Dad's siblings live there and I would have family nearby. So, I felt a strong connection to UFV and I think it was God's leading and it being only a 2 year program played a big role as well.


Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you, what was easy for you, are they any high, low or funny moments you can share?

It was definitely hard for me, because I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started the program. I thought only 2 years, that's all I want, but it's only 2 years for a reason. You have to stay on track with homework, with everything basically. You cannot afford to fall behind, because no one will wait for you, and you learn something new everyday, so you better show up for class. You definitely have to be responsible and respect deadlines, because the instructors made that schedule for a reason to keep you on track, and if you fall behind all the things that need to be finished are just piling up and you will never see the end.

The hard part at first was the language. Not your everyday basic language to communicate, but all the terminology that comes with fashion design. And being under a lot of pressure constantly, and you just wish for it to be over soon. The easy part for me was that I am responsible, I hate to be late and hand my work in late. I'd rather hand it in on time, even though it's not 100% perfect, but not being on time or being ready is a "NO" for me. I get very nervous and uneasy if that ever happens and it makes me uncomfortable. 

The high moments come when you finish a project successfully, the deadline comes, you're ready and you can finally be done with it; or if a semester ends and you know you get at least two weeks off, where you do nothing but catching up on sleep. I really enjoyed my two years at UFV and all the friends I made in my class. We pretty much became a family and had lots of fun together. Late nights at school were the best. You might think I'm crazy, but I enjoyed those times the most. That moment when everybody is so tired and we just start laughing non stop, because non of us had enough sleep in a while and everything starts being funny. We're the only ones at school, it's 12:00 at night and we have a dance party in our construction lab and we get kicked out because we always stay too late. Good times.

What was the inspiration for your grad collection?
My inspiration for my collection was to mix casual styles and sophisticated fabrics and create a trendy, day wear collection for women. Like the crop top, that everybody is familiar with and turn it into a staple item with a fancier look. 

Describe your collection.

My target market is junior contemporary and I created a women's day wear collection. I wanted to create garments that look sophisticated, but you can wear everyday and look trendy. I kept details to a minimum and wanted to focus more on the fabrics I chose for my collection. All the garments in my collection were designed with clean lines and are targeted towards people who like the clean look and are looking for garments with non to minimal details.

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

My palette is a mix of whites, to periwinkle blues to a navy blues. I chose very soft tencel fabrics for my tops and bottoms and a bolder brocade type fabric in a flower design of whites and navy blues and the same type of fabric in a paisley design.

Do you have a favourite look?

I think my favorite look is my very fitted silhouette knee length dress with a high neckline, but keeping the shoulders bare. It has princess seams down the front and back and I just like how it fits on the body and how it creates a different kind of neckline that you can't find very often. To complete the look I would pair it with the coat from my collection that goes down to the knees, has no lines down the front or back, but still has pockets in the side seams and a folded back draped lapel. It comes in the beautiful floral brocade type fabric and can jazz up any outfit.

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

The reason why I wanted to become a fashion designer, was mainly to make a difference for the fashion world in Paraguay and start something there, because there is not a lot and it's easier to start something. In some parts of the world it's hard to come up with something new and exciting for people to want it, but some places need more and I see that in Paraguay.


Where do you go from here?

My dream is to create my own clothing line and start a brand with my name for people who share the same style as me. But since it takes time to get there, for now I will work for other people and gain more experience in the field so I'm prepared to start something on my own in the future and I hope traveling is included in all of it. I would love to see the world of fashion from every angle of the earth.

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Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you.

"Fashions fade, style is eternal." - Yves Saint Laurent

To contact Juliet Loewen please visit her website at www.julietloewen.com or email julietloew@gmail.com.

For more information on the fashion design program at UFV, go to https://www.ufv.ca/fashion/

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