Eliza Faulkner is a Vancouver-based womenswear designer. She launched her collection in 2012 after graduating from Central Saint Martins in London in 2008. Faulkner trained with Roland Mouret, Erdem and Zandra Rhodes and learned specific techniques and practices from each she applies to her business today.
You’ve worked with some very influential designers. How did these designers impact your approach to design?
I learned a lot about fabrication and fit working with Roland Mouret. He’s an incredible draper and really just plays out his ideas on the dress form. At Erdem I learned a lot about how a studio runs on a day-to-day basis. It’s important to see the inner working of a design house before going out on your own. Overall I really gained an appreciation for flattering shapes, fit, colour, and femininity.
Zandra Rhodes is such a design legend. Can you tell us a bit about working with her?
Working with Zandra was a bit more like hanging out with an eccentric relative than working. She lived near the Fashion & Textile Museum in London so we spent a lot of time organizing the museum archives. Also at the time she was designing costumes for the opera, Aida, so we helped her build mini sets for the opera designers.
There were always a few of us interns and she would make us a big bowl of soup at the end of the day and we’d hang out in her garden and water plants. She really is a lovely person and so authentic and true to her aesthetic.
Did you always want to be a fashion designer?
Yes! From day one, my mum made me everything and then I took over as a teenager. Thanks to an early exposure of Fashion File TV, I realized making clothes could be my job. Of course, I’ve entertained other careers along the way, but they always lead back to fashion.
What made you decide to go out on your own?
I had moved back to Canada from the UK and no one would give me a design job. I started working on some ideas and it kind of grew into a collection. It was well received, so I kept on going. Of course it was something I had always wanted to do, but the timing had never been right until I was back in Canada.
Your collections are all so distinct. How do you approach each season? For example, do you start with an inspiration, silhouette, or something else?
For me, the most important elements are colour, shape, and mood. I love a good colour story and for that I look at home and architecture magazines or spend some time in nature (both are excellent sources). I’m almost always obsessing over a detail or a silhouette and that will become the ‘bones’ or the ‘shape’ of the collection. As for the mood, this is usually less tangible, and depends on the music I’m listening to, the books I am reading or the people I’m admiring at that time.
What is the Eliza Faulkner signature?
Sporty, fresh, and elegant clothing for the modern woman – clothing for women who are on the go, who require practical elements in their clothes, but are still creative and want to express themselves with colour or a unique detail. Piping is becoming a signature for me and the Milah dress with its heart shaped pleating is an EF staple! Also, pockets in dresses and power mesh linings are something I do in almost every collection.
Your silhouettes are so strong and unique. What are some of your influences in this area?
I love a clean line and I love flow. When a garment chops up a woman’s shape it drives me nuts. I’m always looking of ways to elongate, accentuate, and flatter the natural lines of the body. Sportswear influences me, too. It’s not intentional but Vancouver is so athletic that I think it happens by osmosis.
How do you come up with names for the different styles? Do they represent women in your life?
The dress names are inspired by friends, or women in popular culture. Sometimes it’s just the first name that comes to my head when I look at the dress. It’s fun giving them names as it gives them some life and after spending so much time on one pattern or shape, they are sort of like my children anyway.
How do you select the Eliza Faulkner model/woman each season?
I work closely with a stylist (Nariman Jay) and we select models together. It’s important that they reflect the ethos of the brand – young, fresh, sporty, with an elegant attitude.
What is the fashion scene like in Vancouver?
The Vancouver scene is really sportswear driven (it is the birth place of Lululemon, after all!) and there are a lot of successful yoga/lifestyle brands popping up. Everyone is really active so there is a demand for that type of clothing. I actually live on Vancouver Island, which is just off the coast of Vancouver. I would say it’s more hippie here than athletic; think Birkenstocks, stretchy handmade knits, and faerie influences!
If you could pick 3 women to wear your designs who would they be?
Alexa Chung, Yasmin Sewell, and Solange Knowles.