Emily Woudenberg has emerged as one of the most interesting of the up-and-coming designers appearing out of Toronto. Her work has been described as “brash and ballsy”, and she was a top 20 finalist in the Mercedes Benz Start-up. Most recently, her collections have been seen at 2012 FAT Arts & Fashion Week, LG Toronto Fashion Week and at the Eleanor Winters Art Gallery.
We caught up with Emily to discuss her Ego collection and the future of menswear.
BALLnROLL: Where do you see Ego’s role in the overall fashion universe? What did you intend to say with this collection?
I wanted to talk about the fashion universe—I hope it's not that big!—or industry in terms of what clothing and fashion do for people and why we wear "trendy" pieces. I thought it was interesting—after talking to several amazing fashion egos in the city—that we create this whole social aspect to who wears what and who sits where.
It's incredibly immature to wonder why one didn't get the first row seating in my opinion—in the large scheme of things. However, within the industry we place importance on things like seating, who attended what with who, etc. It is important to the fashion consumer not always what the fashion looks like or if it wears nicely, but again where they sat at the show and who else was in attendance, hence tagline, "Your opinion is important to you".
Even at a smaller scale, what we wear is a part of the ego we show to the world. It could be a bit rude to point it out to some, however I think I made it apparent and not apparent enough all at once that, if you were interested, to look at the concept behind the collection. There is something to talk about, but if you're more interested in other things, by all means it's not the end of the world-or universe in this case! I am happy with the turn out of the presentation!
How would you describe your sensibilities in fashion design, especially in terms of menswear?
I can really only speak to my general sensibilities, as I have only begun to experiment with menswear. However in terms of accessories, I like the idea of making pieces unisex and androgynous. It's incredibly difficult to make jewellery that doesn't scream, "I am for women". However I like the challenge of taking the gender out of jewellery. That being said, gender is currently a popular topic in fashion and I would like to think that this will be my style even when it is less trendy, but only time will tell. So I like my work to be boxy, awkward, and androgynous, and a little punk edgy.
Jewellery and accessories are a major part of your designs. What do they add to your collection? How do you integrate them?
Everything is a big part of my designs. Every piece of poster, video, and necklace relate to each other and speak to a greater experience. I make clothes around jewellery, and jewellery around clothing. I didn't accessorise my collection with jewellery, I designed it with jewellery.
Who are some of your influences?
I am a product of the mess of trends we see now, and tend to have lots of varied inspiration—I keep a blog
of all things that inspire me. This collection I was looking at Cruella De Ville, the Wang, brutalist architecture, Rihanna, Tyler the Creator, and my friends.
How would you describe the type of person who would wear Woudenberg?
People that wear Woudenberg are interested in fashion, and wearing work that is both creative and fashionable. They are interested in fashion brands, and purchase conversation starters.
If you could dress any one celebrity, who would it be and why?
Emily Haines of Metric.
How would you describe the fashion scene in Toronto?
Like any fashion scene. Awkward, but it might just be me! Everyone is kind, and have similar motivations.
You have an online shop opening soon on your website. What are your plans for that? What are the sorts of things we will see on it?
I want to do some different things with my online shop
. I want to sell related artists work. Prints and small limited edition runs of my work.
What do you think is in store for menswear in the near future?
More genderless jewellery.
What are your goals and aspirations for Woudenberg in the future?
I want to develop my jewellery collection more in-depth. More creative pieces, pushing my abilities as a designer.