Chloé and Parris Talk Collaboration, Inspiration, and Their Mother’s Magazine Collection
It becomes obvious, when perusing Chloé and Parris Gordon’s Fall/Winter 2015 look book, why the sisters chose to name their fashion brand ‘Beaufille.’ The word, which translates to English as ‘handsome girl,’ seems a fitting identity for a fashion line whose aesthetic plays with our assumptions of the masculine and feminine. In Beaufille’s new collection, abrupt lines contrast with flowing fabrics and high collars juxtapose plunging necklines. Beautifully photographed amongst paintings that call to mind aging concrete and broken glass, the Fall/Winter line boasts a neutral palate of blacks, greys, and the odd white, which immediately draws the eye to the line’s focus on texture and sharp silhouettes.
Chloé and Parris, winners of the 2015 Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent (Accessories) at the CAFA awards, recently took the time to chat with us about their new line, working together, and to offer some advice to young designers:
What made you decide to create a fashion line together?
Starting a line together was a natural progression after learning our respective crafts in university; fashion and textile design alongside jewelry design and metalsmithing. We had a body of work to combine, we always wanted to work together creatively, it was sort of a no-brainer.
What qualities and strengths do each of you bring to beaufille? How does this influence the ways in which you collaborate as designers?
We like to think of ourselves as opposites that have complimentary strengths. This allows us to both have a voice in different aspects of the business and creative process. For example Chloe is more of an experimental dreamer, with a very all over the map type of process, an organized chaos. While Parris is more grounded in her process, in her ability to make decisions, and trust her instincts. Parris tends to be more realistic in the design process, and Chloe out of the box, so there is a sort of balancing act that is always present in their process.
Your mother, Eve, works with beaufille as a visual artist. How do the three of you work together to bring a design from conception to creation?
We have always been very creative with our mother from a young age, so having her involved in our work was a natural progression. We always draw from our mother’s vast library of art, history and fashion books. She’ll help point us in the right direction with new ideas to explore by selecting books from her library for us. She also has kept almost every issue of Vogue (American, French, Italian) since the 60s – it’s an incredible resource. She painted our entire childhood home while we were growing up, constantly reimaging the space – I think that got us hooked to creativity even subconsciously from a young age. We used to work very closely with our mom on prints & concepts each season, however now she’s more like our guiding light with direction and feedback throughout each collection. We talk and send references constantly.
How do you generally get inspired when designing new pieces? What were your inspirations for the Fall 2015 line?
We used to reference specifically something historical and contrast it with something modern for each collection. Certain aspects of those ideas and silhouettes we have drawn from past and present remain in the collections. However now we’re really inspired by editing and branding – defining what is Beaufille and the silhouettes that describe us. Drawing on what sells and what our customer wants is the most inspiring to us now. When were designing, the main goal is that our pieces are effortless, subtle, and easily integrated into the lives of our customers. We want to create pieces that people can have forever, that are not just dictated by seasons or trends; our customer doesn’t care about that.
Do world trends influence your collections?
How do you balance the economics of your market with your creativity or passion for design? Are there outside influences that limit or enhance your design decisions?
Designers should always remember that if you choose this as a career, it’s a business as much as it is a creative outlet. It’s tricky to balance the fine line of expressing your creativity in a fulfilling way, while also paying the bills at the end of the day. There is a lot of trial and error in creating collections before you actually start to sell. The designs that don’t sell are just as important as the ones that do because they teach you about your customer and help bring you down to earth. But essentially this isn’t limiting – it’s challenging you to think, design, and express your creativity in a different way than you may have intended. It’s good to work in ways you didn’t ultimately intend, it develops you.
What have you found to be your main consumer demographic?
It really ranges in age. We have our friends and women in their mid-20s to 30s buying our product. Also women in the 50+ range, it’s really cool to see the diversity. I think our customer demographic is always someone who admires fashion, art, detail, comfort, and something different.
Who are your favourite Canadian designers?
Sid Neigum, Thomas Tait, Erdem, & Rad Hourani
What advice would you give young fashion designers?
P: Be yourself, trust your gut, persevere.
C: Rome wasn’t built in a day.
What’s next for you both?
Creating our Fall/Winter 2016 collection, re-launching our e-commerce site, and Fine Jewelry Volume 2.