Runway Radar: Joanna Lee melds old and new in Renaissance-inspired Pastiche

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      By Erin Chisholm

      Joanna Lee is a designer who is passionate about her work. From a young age, Joanna had an interest in the arts, which led her to study fashion design and costume production in college before pursuing her degree. Her experience of working in a theatre wardrobe allowed her to gain valuable skills and reflected her belief that clothing is used to tell a story.

      Pastiche is inspired by historical costuming. The collection references the dramatic and romantic silhouettes of the Renaissance as well as the Baroque and Rococo era to create evening wear with a whimsical essence.

      Pastiche will be unveiled at 2018 The Show presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc., on April 19 and 20 at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) new purpose-built Wilson School of Design building. The beautiful and innovative $36-million building houses a range of design programs including the fashion-design-and-technology program. Thirty-one other lines by KPU fashion design and technology students will also be showcased.

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

      Erin Chisholm: Describe your collection.

      Joanna Lee: Pastiche is an eveningwear collection that draws on historical references for design details and silhouettes. The concept is to bring ideas from the past forward and reinvent them in present day to create something new. The gowns in my collection aren’t your typical little black dress, they have a lot more drama and flair to them.

      EC: Walk me through your creative process.

      JL: The start of my creative process always involves purchasing a sketchbook. I always like to do a lot of market and trend research in the beginning and I’ll keep all of my photos and notes in the sketchbook. This way everything is all together when I get to designing so I can look back for reference. Then I sketch, sketch, sketch to come up with as many ideas as possible for what I am creating because the best idea is not the first one but forms after many iterations of that idea.

      I love being able to look through my sketchbook because it really shows my creative process from point a to point b. After I have finished designing, I figure out how I would construct them and finally I make the garment.

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

      JL: The aspect of design I am most passionate is bringing an idea to life. I love the entire journey of concept to creation. I find it really satisfying to be able to take research, turn it into sketches and then eventually into a garment.

      EC: What made you want to become a designer?

      JL: As long as I can remember the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Has been answered with: “a fashion designer.” So there was never really a moment that made me want to be a designer, it’s something that was always meant to be. 

      EC Describe you design education journey.

      JL: My design education journey began when I started college back in 2012. I completed two programs at Fanshawe College located in London, Ontario. The first was an advanced diploma in fashion design and the second was a graduate certificate in technical costume studies. These programs not only provided me with an excellent education but also with irreplaceable job experiences.

      I spent a summer working in a bridal boutique and the two following summers in a theatre wardrobe. After completing my college programs and having the work experience, I knew that I had gained valuable skills but was not quite ready to be done with school. This led me to pursuing my degree at KPU. I have learned a lot over my design education journey and look forward to working in the fashion industry.

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

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