Satisfying about a handful of pipedreams all at once, Nova Scotia designer Anna Gilkerson (deuxfm.com) has swapped the province’s south shore for the Big Apple this week, prepping for her New York Fashion Week debut at the GreenShows today. The only event of its kind on the official NYFW calendar, the GreenShows (thegreenshows.com), running from February 14 to 17, executes a commitment to eco-conscious fashion by bringing green designers to its runway while ensuring the production itself is 100 per cent environmentally friendly.
With the likes of WWD–and our own Sarah Casselman–on the RSVP list for the Deux Fm show this afternoon, and with Vogue asking for a private peek at the collection later this week, Gilkerson has the fodder for a solid case of cold feet. We caught up with the young designer to see how she’s handling all the anticipation.
What made you decide to participate in the GreenShows? “The GreenShows is a platform that allows eco-ethical designers to show their collections on a high profile stage. Being asked to show in New York is a great honour, and it will give my brand the exposure that it needs to move forward and be successful, but I also get to be a part of the eco-ethical movement that is such an important part of my business. Can we make the world a better place through what we wear? Yes, because this movement is proving to not just be a passing trend. I think it is about understanding our effect on the world: what we consume goes a long way and if we can consume less and consume items that are friendlier toward the environment, then we have won the battle.”
This is your first time on the official New York Fashion Week roster. How does it feel? “It’s exhilarating and nerve wrecking. I’m humbled by the fact that me, a little unknown, was asked because my clothes have merit, because people want them, want to buy them and wear them, and want to help promote my brand. I love New York and the people that live here, so getting to come back and relive that for a few days is heaven.”
Tell us about the months leading up to this one. What did you do to prepare? “I just had my baby in late September, so I started the collection later than I normally would. Luckily, I had an intern, a graduate from NSCAD named Sarah Roy, who came to my studio and helped me. She helped with patterns and sewing and everything else that I needed and it was a dream come true to have someone that dedicated to my business. She’s here with me right now in New York sharing this experience because we started this collection together. She actually has a costume design background so we worked some corsetry into this collection and I learned some great things from her. If we stop and take notice, we have teachers around us all the time—we just have to recognize them.”
What pieces are invitees at the show going to see that you’re particularly excited about? “I’m excited about the collection as a whole, really, because it tells a story. It’s about a young woman who is enjoying her life on a very natural level and is not obsessed with fame and riches. She lives within her means, and still manages to look amazing. The clothes are classic and timeless so they are really wearable. They are items that real people want in their closet and that will remain there for many seasons. I have several favourites, but if I had to choose, it would be the wool dress with the wool carcoat, both of organic wool from Vermont, and the evening dress that can be worn so many different ways.”
The aesthetic in this collection leans heavily on a post-WWII feel of simplistic elegance. Why this focus? “We now live in a war-torn time, and back in the late 1940s, so did our parents or grandparents. This feeling of celebrating life after war is so important to me. How can we feel beautiful again? How can we be a beautiful society? I also love the aesthetic of that time. I’m a real vintage gal: I love old movies, I’m obsessed with Mad Men and I loved that time when things were still made by hand, when things were made to last and not made to break. I think the real fall of our society in the last 40 or 50 years has been about consumption and the bottom line. It has destroyed our ability to love the things we already own. I hope the clothes that I’ve made can defy this.”
You’re one of two Canadian designers in the show [the other is Thieves' Sonja den Elzen], and the only one from Atlantic Canada. How does it feel to represent the East Coast? “I have to say it has been a whirlwind. I have no time to think about the importance of it all. I just hope I can provide some beautiful pieces that woman all over will want to wear. If I let my ego get the better part of me, I have lost. I need to just focus on giving everyone a good show and inspiring more Nova Scotians to stay at home and follow their dreams.”
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