A Pleasant Chat in Mount Pleasant; Mulierose Designer Amanda Healey
Meeting with Mulierose designer Amanda Healey proved to be a refreshing, almost anti-fashion experience.
“I’m not a fashion designer, I’m a clothing designer. I’m making real clothes for real people” she said, a couple of minutes into our interview with a confidence that makes it clear that while she is passionate about beautiful clothing, she is no slave to the ever-changing fashions.
It was a stunning Vancouver day as we sat outside Pleasant Beans (located at 39 Kingsway) and sipped on iced tea. It couldn##Q##t have been a better time or place with the sun shining off the pavement and buildings, and with the energetic hum of busy Mount Pleasant##Q##s soundtrack. The creative energy of the location fit perfectly with the nature of the conversation. She and I chatted about everything from her inspiration and the motivation behind her line, to what it is truly like working as an up and coming designer in Vancouver. When I talked to her about her pieces at Haiku Studios several months ago, which are sold predominantly on Etsy, she was passionate and brimming with creative energy. This time was no exception.
AA: What was it that made you want to pursue a career in the fashion industry?
AH: I think that I’ve always just been drawn to being able to decorate the body. Some people like doing that with tattoos but I think that you can express yourself better with clothes because you can change it every day. I’ve always liked the role-playing aspect of fashion.
AA: Are there any people in your life or style icons that inspire you creatively?
AH: Some people always seem to have one or two people that they really look up to. I don’t really look up, I look at even level, at what everyone else is doing because that’s the actual realistic way that people are incorporating fashion right? I’m not a fashion designer, I’m a clothing designer. I’m making real clothes for real people. I mean, I like Betsey Johnson and Chloe and all of the high-end fashions but then I look at their collections and I’m like I don’t like anything in there! It’s just so trendy, and it’s not wearable. It doesn’t look good on a body and it’s not accessible.
AA: What do you think is the hardest aspect of being a local designer in Vancouver
AH: I think one of the problems with being in Vancouver is that it’s all the way on one end of Canada. So if I was in Toronto or Montreal it would be easier to spread out, instead of being over here and trying to get my stuff over there. It’s such a big jump. It is good to be in Vancouver other than the fact that you’re so far away from the other city centres but, I think the community here is awesome. It’s almost like because we are so far away, you really need to band together. Everybody knows everybody.
AA: Are there any other local Vancouver designers that you admire?
AH: I would have to go with Melissa Ferreira from Adhesif. She is one of the first people that I talked to when I was just looking around at all of the craft shows a couple of years ago. She just said, if fashion is your passion, do it, it’s going to be hard, I’m not saying it’s easy but if that’s really what you want to do just go and do it! And then another one would have to be Mary from Clutch Jewels, and I worked with her at Haiku. She has such a super amount of energy, and she’s just so passionate about what she does. She’s got a huge line and she’s always making new stuff, it’s always awesome. She thinks about multiple ways to wear pieces and I want to do that with my clothes.
AA: What inspired your latest collection as well as your new fall collection that you’re working on?
AH: I’ve been looking for myself and I think that’s where most of my inspiration comes from is myself and my own problems with clothes. The collection that just came out for spring/summer was basically inspired by moving to a smaller place and my boyfriend needing to clean out his closet. I’ve just started making his old clothes into my dresses! And for my fall collection I’ve been looking at knits. I’ve been taking sweaters and actually turning them upside down. I took the sleeves out and popped them around and I did some tailoring so that they would fit better, and I readjusted the buttons so that it’s asymmetrical. I don’t know how I came up with that, and I’m super excited about that *laughs* , one of my big beefs with the fashion industry is that you look at the spring collection and then you look at the fall collection and it’s just a different colour? This is Canada! You can’t wear that stuff here in the winter! I’ve also figured out how to do a two way vest, so not reversible but the front is one way and the back is another way so you could wear it either frontwards or backwards and it’ll still look like a vest. I like reusable clothing, clothing that you can get multiple uses out of.
AA: And the eco-friendly aspect of your pieces. Eco-friendly as a trend and movement is so huge!
AH: I didn’t start trying to make something that was eco-friendly. That was a side benefit that just happened. Because I find, I have a background in graphic design, and I just find that the more restrictions you impose on yourself the more creative you’re going to get with it right? Because everyone else looks at a men’s dress-shirt and they’re like oh I can’t wear that today, I’m going to go find something new that I can wear. I’m like no, I can make that into a dress, a vest, a skirt, like what do you want? I can make that for you!
AA: Is there anywhere that you go for creative inspiration?
AH: Value Village *laughs*. I have bought stuff at Value Village because it’s ugly but it’s a great pattern, then I’ll cut it up and use it as a pattern for fabric that I do like. I do that a lot. And then with Etsy, you can just access stuff so quickly. You can just find a zillion vests and then pin them all on Pinterest and then go through and be super inspired and say yes now I know exactly what I want to do now. But if my brain gets too full of that than I just go somewhere like the ocean or by the mountains and let my brain sort itself out.
AA: Do you have any style tips for our readers?
AH: Wear what you like and make it work for you. And wear for your size, don’t try to squeeze yourself into a smaller size because it’s going to look awful and it’s going to make you look and feel bigger than you actually are. I wore a pencil skirt for the first time ever yesterday to a job interview, and I never realized how tight they are and I couldn’t easily get up the stairs and I was like are you kidding me? People do this every day and with five-inch stilettos? Why? Also, I think it’s important to pay attention to the feel of the fabric and the colour because all of the variations of colour totally do different things for how you look.
One of a Kind Blue Plaid Halter Sundress with Cream and Navy Ruffle Accents – $88.00
One of a Kind Strap-less Sundress – $58.00
One of a Kind Tank Top – $58.00
One of a Kind Tank Top- $48.00
One of a Kind Fabric Cuff with Flowers and Buttons - $28.00
Flower Elastic Hairband – $8.00
- Alicia Arruda