“I have always been interested in creating and building things,” says Brittany Wacher. “Making clothes was enticing for me, since you could create art people can wear.”
She has now shown her Montréal-based fashion line Brit Wacher at Vancouver, Montréal and Toronto Fashion Weeks.
Wacher was first introduced to fashion by her grandmother, who sewed all her clothes when she was little. “I would wear all her flamboyant frilly dresses and dress shoes every day, even if it was to go to the grocery store,” she remembers.
As she got older, Wacher says she started using a lot less colour in her personal style. “I’m keeping a clean slate, so that I’m not putting any energy into what I’m wearing, but into my creations instead.”
Wacher’s vision for clothes is very abstract: she is fascinated by the idea of energy, how it can move through time and space, how it is always changing and nothing is ever constant. “This concept is what inspires me to create, how I can take this philosophy and turn it into my creations,” she says.
“I try to translate these emotions and feelings into use of lines, colour blocking and angles. It’s trying to match the visual with an emotion, which is different for each viewer [like abstract pieces of art].”
Most of her clothes are black and white. To explain this neutral approach to colour, Wacher says that she prefers when people do not to associate anything from their past to her creations. “You don’t have as many memories attached to colourless hues than colours.”
The experiences she had while traveling is something else she brings to her designs. A few years ago Wacher was in Thailand to visit family. Not a fan of relaxing vacations, she kept herself busy, finding various styling projects and even curating shows at an art gallery.
Next, she went to Holland. Wacher remembered the work of Danish designer Pauline Van Dongen who had shown at Vancouver Fashion Week when Wacher was still in school. “I saw her work and fell in love with it instantly,” Wacher remembers. “I wanted to go and work for her, so I emailed her.”
Although the weather was “dark and gloomy” during her stay in Holland, Wacher enjoyed the cultural differences just as she did during her time in south east Asia. “I like being in cultures where I don’t understand the language; it gives you a stronger sense of everything else around you. Your senses [are heightened and the experience] becomes inspiring,” Wacher explains.
However, there were times when the language barrier was a problem. When some designers in Thailand did not speak English, the mode of communication would quickly change to charades. “If you’re not a good actor, it didn’t work out very well,” she laughs.
Coming back home, she wasn’t sure where she wanted to live, so Wacher came to Toronto. But only after a couple weeks, she was contacted by her friend from fashion school and fellow tailor, Wilber Tellez. “He had some projects for me in Montréal, so I joined him in his studio and I never left. He’s really amazing and we work very well together.”
Several seasons later Wacher has her design process down to a science. It always begins with sketching: “I do hundreds of sketches, but nothing to do with clothes. I’ll draw characters from my imagination and that helps me find the right mood for the collection.”
Next, as part of her research, Wacher loves reading scientific novels by Briane Greene and Erwin Schrodinger, known for their work in theoretical physics, string and quantum theory. Her latest obsession is the Quarterly Academic Journal of Fringe Science.
She will then design the entire collection and start creating it. “Sometimes pieces change as I’m making them, little details come out that you never expected. It’s kind of bizarre, it’s like they come alive.”
Remembering her first show at Vancouver Fashion Week, while she was still studying at La Salle College, Wacher says it was a lot less organized. She only had three weeks to create eight to 10 pieces. “I didn’t sleep for three weeks. I was younger then, so was able to deal with it physically. [The trick is] lots of coffee, water and two-hour naps.”
Having learned from her experiences, the Toronto show earlier this year went a lot smoother, and was more organized. “I also have a lot more people helping me; I really have a great team which makes a big difference. Before I was doing almost everything myself. That is except last-minute sewing; Wilber is always there to help.”
Applying this concept to music as well, the song for her show at Toronto Fashion Week titled “Perspectivus” was an original by Montréal locals Thomas & Phillipe L’Allier. “I like to have music that doesn’t give them a direct connection to something they’ve already heard before.”
Up next for Wacher is the launch of a knitwear collection, which will be more comfortable and easy to wear. Ever a lover of travel, she says she would not rule out an eventual expansion to Holland or her dream location – Portugal. “It’s warm and quaint,” she says.
Eventually she may also pursue her love of science. “If I wasn’t doing fashion, I would study science, I love studying how the human mind works. Maybe I’ll go to school when I’m 60.”