The first thing you see when you enter the Wa’Ou designer label clothing boutique on Parc Avenue is a six-foot mannequin in a flirty, knee-length, red and white candy cane dress. The wall behind the provocative doll looks like a kaleidoscope. Stretchy knit shirts covered with appliqués of flowers, fairies and teapots hang from rods attached to the wall behind.
Twenty-nine year-old designer Celine Vautour is hard at work behind her Singer sewing machine. She is adding finishing touches to a green, thick-strapped camisole with a diagonal grey road, complete with little cars. Vautour says the highway shirt is a must-have from her 2008 spring and summer collection “Three Dimensional Whimsical Stuff.”
But it’s not all whimsy and ruffles. Styling herself as an “eco-designer.” Vautour is serious about using leftover fabric materials to create her original designs. Many of her pieces are made of 85 per cent recycled fabric. She recycles manufacturer-made fabric because it’s easier and more cost-effective than getting it made-to-order. She said Montreal as a great place to get unique fabrics at great prices.
“It’s not about the budget for me to produce a clothing line, it’s actually about how long is it going to take me to make the item, how many can I make, how fast, and for how much, for it to be all compensated,” said Vautour.
She always had a knack for fashion. When she was a teenager her mother let her express herself through her outrageous outfits. “My mom’s way was like, there are three things that teens can rebel in: an extroverted look, sex, or drugs,” said Vautour. She opted for the extreme look and channeled her teenage angst into her clothing.
Rummaging through little shops in search for the unusual gave her a taste for the fashion culture. Although her high school classmates were convinced she made her own clothing because it was so original, Vautour was bargain hunting at local thrift shops.
She left her hometown of Moncton, New Brunswick eight years ago in hopes of making it in the film industry, but didn’t feel ready. “I’m opening a thrift shop because it just feels right. I get pretty obsessive-compulsive about an idea, so when I really want to do something I get stubborn enough to do it,” said Vautour.
Everything in her shop, from the wooden racks at the centre of her store, to the plastic green garland hanging in her showcase window, was assembled by Vautour. “It’s really a D.I.Y job,” she said. “I start with purchasing my fabric and never sketch out my ideas. It is best to improvise because there are less odds of messing up,” said Vautour.
A typical day is divided into three phases: cutting, assembling, and embellishing. She spends endless hours poring through fashion magazines to keep up with the trends. She admires the work of John Galliano for Christian Dior because of his construction methods, Vivienne Westwood for her draping techniques, and Betsy Johnson for her skittish attitude and fluff.
Vautour describes her style as “a garnished version of Calvin Klein,” because she uses three to four simple patterns, tweaking each one and adding her signature embroidery and appliqué.
So what’s next for Vautour? Plenty. She wants to find the perfect “bender-friendly” skirt length, design gothic clothing and start designing a children’s clothing line.
Check out Celine Vautour’s designs at www.waoucreations.blogspot.com or visit her at 5587 Parc Avenue.