Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Blanche Macdonald - Julian Leclerc, Post-Apocalyptic Earth.

Runway Images by Peter Jensen Photography
Illustrations by Julian Leclerc

Neon Dreams 2016 show recap - http://bit.ly/2gp70mi

I was honoured to be at the most recent Blanche Macdonald grad show to see the newest group of Fashion Design students offer their amazing grad collections. As always, I left the event inspired.

Design students may not have the experience and technical skills that come from working a long time in the fashion industry, but they bring fresh ideas to the table that offer a small window into where things may head in the future.

Each season I pick a few students to offer a solo article on and I try to offer a wide range of aesthetics and styles. Choosing who to feature all starts with a look at their portfolios. I want these to be strong representations of their work overall as well as offer good illustrations. Strong illustrations offer me an idea of the designers potential as an artist.

Next I watch the runway show closely. As someone who sewed professionally for five years, I don't want to see puckered seams or odd threads hanging. I look for proportions that are flattering and interesting ideas. In the end, fashion is very subjective, so I look for what catches my eye.

In addition to Julian Leclerc's wonderful illustrations, I was drawn to the detail work on his garments (unique placement of zippers, fabric treatment and fringe). The designer also offered wearable shapes, but elevated them to something new and interesting. For example, just look at the hood in the first image below.  I also enjoyed the dark feeling he captured in this collection. When I received his Q and A answers, it was no surprise to learn about his inspiration. He definitely nailed it.

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Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in a small town in North Eastern British Columbia called Fort St. John. Fort St. John is home to a little over 20 thousand people. I was born and grew up there, I was there for a little over 24 years until moving down to Vancouver the month before classes began.

What you like when you were young?

In my younger years, I was always creative and imaginative. Starting with the hours and days building creations of Lego. As I got older I progressed into drawing and painting and later turning towards digital art using a tablet and computer. As a you teenager I always liked originality and standing out from the crowd. Being from such a small town standing out wasn’t always well received, but I always stuck with what I liked and stood out all the more.

What were your interests in High School?

In high school my main interests were theater and art. The first year I was in the stage craft class, designing and making the sets for the school play. The following year I took the acting and theater classes. Talking art classes every year since Jr. High.

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

Since the age of 14 I always wanted to have my own snow/ skate board brand, a culture I was immersed in, in my teen years. I wanted to be able to have clothing that I though was cool rather than having to find it through other brands. Although this was always something on the back of my mind, wanting to have a brand of my own somehow the thought of looking into fashion schools as a way to pursue this dream never crossed my mind.



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

About 3 years ago, I decided to take apart some jeans and applique a bunch of denim patches I had cut and distressed from recycled jeans. I then made a few other pairs of similar pants styling them off of rock and metal bands fashion. I had also been wanting to move to Vancouver over the years pervious and had almost moved down a few different times but never pulled the trigger. One day while working on a project I think it kind of just popped in my head to look up fashion schools in Vancouver. After a few days of research, I had decided the Blanche Macdonald looked like the school I wanted to attend.

My family was very supportive and have helped me every point along the way. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without their help with I am so grateful for.

Why did you choose to study at Blanche Macdonald?

I had looked at 3 or 4 different schools looking at the courses they offered, duration of the program and the cost of tuition. In talking with one of the Admission Directors at Blanche Macdonald I was sold. She did a great job at making me feel like I would be right at home, even though I didn’t have an interest in fashion designers and runways at the time. In March, only a few short weeks since I had started talking with the Admissions Directors and filling out my application, and only 5 months before classes started I flew down to take a tour of the school. Upon returning home I had played my deposit and was fully enrolled in the program due to start classes in September.

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

I very much enjoyed my time studying at Blanche Macdonald. In all the technical classes I became comfortable right away, especially pattern drafting. In high school I took drafting classes and was thinking of pursuing Architecture as a career so it was fun to do drafting again. Art class was great, Design class on the other hand took a while for me to find my place. Having never really tried to design a garment before learning how everything moved and draped as well as how to create an inspiration board then design garments was a bit over whelming at first. Seeing my design ability evolve and the confidence I gained in my designs over the duration of the course was one of the parts I enjoyed most.

My funniest memory to think back on is the first week of school in drafting class. We were learning to manipulate blocks to create different bodices. As the teacher explained how to move the dart from underarm to the shoulder, I put my hand up and asked the teacher what a dart was which the class had a little laugh over. Looking back now at how abundant darts are in woman and even men’s wear I think it just makes me chuckle at how truly green I was coming into this program and profession.



What was the inspiration for your grad collection? Describe your collection. Share anything you'd like readers to know.

My inspiration was a post-apocalyptic Earth. A land that post destruction was reverted to more primitive tribes of survivors battling for what little still stood. In designing these post-apocalypse road warriors, I used a lot of military references and created very utilitarian garments. I named my collection Road Worn, referring to the road warriors wearing the garments as well as the worn finish of the garments.

My collection is kind of a full mix from sportswear pieces to evening and event pieces. The bulk of my collection was day wear with endless styling and pairing ability’s.

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use

I used 100% cotton in almost all of my pieces. I used black and olive cotton fabrics. I then created my prints by hand using bleach. Creating the prints was one of my favorite parts of making this collection. I wanted to use as much natural fabric as I could and creating the prints gave me the perfect way to have the garments look worn or distressed and also be someone original and stand out.

Do you have a favourite look?

My favorite look that was on the runway at the grad show was my second look, a jacket and pants. The jacket had a 2-way zipper which was styled zipped up to just under bust showing off her stomach and the natural waisted pants. The jacket was originally made with a 1-way zipper and after the show fittings decided change it to the 2-way zipper to allow the pants to be better displayed. Seeing them a model for the first time during its debut on the runway they had turned out greater then I could have imagined.

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

I don’t know what new I can bring as there is so much out there and so much that has already been done. What I hope to bring to the fashion industry is a brand of unique and functional garments with endless styling possibility’s. One that hopefully brings people out of there shell helps people to strive to stand out.

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for a while, launch your own line, take a break and travel?

Since graduating u have starting working at Search and Rescue Denim and local artisan shop located on Granville island, building stylish aprons for many creative professionals around the globe. I hope to have my own line and will be starting some custom and one of pieces in the coming months.
Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you if possible?

Fashion is a way to visually express our creativity and who we are. The ability of two people to be wearing the same garment but being able to style it to express themselves their own way, this is something I wanted to build into my designs. Garments with multiple ways to be styled build into each garment.

For more information or to contact Julian Leclerc, please email julian.g.leclerc@gmail.com. And be sure and follow him on Instagram at @c3calamityclothing.

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For more information on the fashion design program at Blanche Macdonald, please visit their website at http://www.blanchemacdonald.com/fashion/.

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