Runway Radar: Jessica Farnsworth's MESA tells stories of female artists from past and present

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      By Adella Zeller

      With a background in counselling and a passion for empowering women, Jessica Farnsworth strives to bring these same values into her collections. She views creativity and art as a voice for women to express their stories, points of view, and philosophies in a way that can be heard and admired through fashion and design.

      Each MESA collection is inspired by female artists from past and present and is made for the creative women who shape our world today. Farnsworth’s graduate collection showcases designs inspired by artist Georgia O’Keeffe. The story explores the juxtaposition of strong and sensual design elements, embodying the complexity of the modern woman. The natural palette is inspired by muted tones and weathered textures of Adobe architecture. Thoughtful layering mimics a painter’s brushstrokes and conveys the dimensions of colour through movement.

      MESA will be unveiled at 2017 The Show presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc., on April 5 and 6 at the Imperial (319 Main Street). Twenty-seven other lines by Kwantlen Polytechnic University Fashion Design and Technology students will also be showcased.

      For event details, visit or follow @wilsondesignkpu on Instagram.

      Adella Zeller: Describe your collection.

      Jessica Farnsworth: MESA provides the dresser with versatile pieces that she can wear in her creative professional life as well as in her downtime, fulfilling her need to buy less and invest in fine fabrics, quality craftsmanship, and comfortable designs. This allows her to lead a life of purpose, authenticity, and balance.

      Each collection tells a story of artists past and present and, therefore, every season's garments are personal, fresh, and able to meet the dresser's lifestyle needs.

      AZ: Who or what was the inspiration behind your line?

      JF: I have a background in counselling work with women fleeing trauma, moving through transition, and starting their lives over. Something I noticed while doing this work was the incredible role that stories and artwork from other women’s experiences can play in empowering one's life. Making anything more personal breeds connection and strength. I wanted to bring the stories of female artists of past and present into fashion and design as a way to empower women who are following their passions and carving out their own dreams here in Vancouver.

      AZ: Walk me through your creative process.

      JF: The creative process for me starts with exploring art from around the world as well as looking beyond the actual work and reading about female artists and their lives. What sparked their creative path? What or who inspired them? While the art plays a big role in the overall aesthetic, I love researching a bit deeper and learning about the people and landscapes that surrounded them and the politics of the time or place that they were or are living in. Doing this creates a bigger picture and gives more meaning to my designs, the fabrics I choose, my palette, and my silhouettes.

      AZ: What have you learned at KPU?

      JF: Technical and design skills aside, I have learned that I am capable of doing this. It was a big leap of faith to change careers and with it came a lot of doubt and fear. But I have loved every second of the creative process. It forces me to stay grounded and not take myself too seriously and there is a lot of laughter in each day. KPU has opened so many doors for me; I am so grateful for the faculty and the program. It has been life-changing, actually.

      AZ: What aspect of design are you most passionate about?

      JF: I love the creative process and building the story. I have always loved learning about other people’s experiences in life and, with design, I get to tell my own interpretations of what or who excites me most. I have also always loved photography. There is something really fulfilling about collaborating with a team of people, finding the perfect location, and creating this collection of images that convey a very specific idea—something completely original that can only come out of collaboration.

      I love every aspect of it, actually. The production side—to watch a sketch come to life into an actual garment—is incredible. Also, the fact that the process is always changing and evolving, where I'm pouring so much energy into a collection and then starting over each season, is great.

      Adella Zeller is a final-year fashion design and technology student at KPU’s Wilson School of Design.

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