Style Observer

Kathryn Bowen On Her Way To Superstardom

Sunday, July 22, 2018

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It has taken several months to catch up with fashion designer Kathryn Bowen. No stranger to SO, Bowen's father Bruce headed Scotiabank Jamaica for several years and we'd invariably meet up during her many Rock jaunts. If she's been off our social radar for some time, it's entirely due to her relocation to London, England, where she pursued her passion for fashion design. “I moved to London when I was 18 to study Fashion Design. That's where I completed my BA degree in Womenswear after four years of studying at London College of Fashion,” she shares in between hopping a flight to New York last weekend where she was in back-to-back meetings with her new production team all day, followed by two days at Premiere Vision tradeshow.

Bowen maximised her time in the United Kingdom by interning for several established designers including Marc Jacobs in New York and Jonathan Saunders in London. “After graduating, I really started to appreciate the amount of hard work and dedication that goes into running a fashion label when I started working for London-based designer Yang Li. For two years I assisted the development of his collections and the preparation of his shows at Paris Fashion Week. Those two years, working between London and Paris, are really what taught me the process and skills required to create the foundation of my own fashion label,” she discloses.

The requisite process and skills are what she has returned to Canada with, along with a “developmental approach” to design. “Every season I want to add new silhouettes and techniques to my collections, so sketching is really only the first step of the process. There is always a lot of deconstruction and reassembling before the final sample is complete. I will always remain interested in a more traditional approach to making clothes, which means really learning the craft and not rushing the process of producing quality garments. It is important to me that I'm not just making trend products from season to season but pieces that are kept and appreciated for years, maybe decades, in a person's wardrobe,” she adds.

Canada, shares the 26 year old, has been a seamless transition “with less influence and distraction from the immediate buzz of the fashion world”. But, it has opened her eyes to the fact that there is so much room for a range of products in Canadian fashion ostensibly because of the requisite wardrobe to get through a whole year. “I love outerwear, so it is fun to consider the possibilities of winter gear and layering for fall,” she says.

Having already started to work with more New York-based factories, it is unlikely that she'll be based in Canada forever. It has been however, she emphasised “a great place to start”.

We reckon former Suits star and one-time Toronto resident Meghan Markle, who has herself dazzled in quite a few designs from Canada, would concur.

Bowen has her scissors pointed in the direction of the confident, independent and creative individual who considers their style an important part of their identity or extension of their personality — “The woman I want to dress, in my mind, is very confident, independent and considers her wardrobe to be an important investment in her life. I want my clothes to be long-lasting and worn by women of all ages. So Charlotte Gainsbourg, Zoe Kravitz, musician FKA Twigs and Hari Nef are people she would love to see wearing her label. “Of course, Rihanna has been such a supporter for emerging designers, so it would be exciting to see her in one of my garments as well,” she adds. “But in general, running into anyone on the street wearing Kathryn Bowen would be exciting and rewarding.”

Her wait might not be an extraordinarily long one. She was recently acknowledged by S/Magazine as one of three Canadian designers on their way to fashion superstardom. “In the age of instant gratification, it's rare to see a young creative take things slow. But such is the case for Kathryn Bowen, the Toronto designer who favours an old-world approach to design and life itself,” the magazine noted.

There's absolutely no doubt in our minds that the Caribbean has left an indelible impression!

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