Calgary’s Lara Presber channels her architectural talents into fashion-forward womenswear.
BY RACHEL MORTEN. PHOTO BY COLIN WAY.
Thirty years ago, when then-10-year-old Lara Presber was unhappy with the prepackaged outfits her dolls were sporting, she got to work creating a line of her very own. The resulting couture collection doesn’t bear much resemblance to the sleek, structured apparel she produces today, but, even back then, the Calgary native had an eye for design. “I liked building things,” she says, “whether they were from wood or fabric.” In fact, wood was her material of choice for a while—she chose architecture over fashion after graduating with her first degree (“It seemed more practical”), and worked steadily designing warm, welcoming retail and commercial interior spaces. A decade into her career, Presber craved a new challenge and so headed for Milan to study fashion.
Along the way, she found a way to combine both passions and, in 2005, she returned to Calgary to establish Studio Presber, a line of architecturally inspired womenswear. “For me, a good garment and a good building are all about structure,” says Presber. Her latest collection mixes dark greys with hints of patterned silk, elements inspired by the University of Calgary’s downtown campus. Her pieces are innovative, but her sales system is even more so: Presber’s website offers crowd-pricing (the more people who pre-order, the lower the cost) on limited-edition designs ranging from silk cowl-neck dresses to smartly cut chiffon tops.
The designer (along with other Calgary multitaskers like designer and artist Paul Stady) just launched Tallboy Studio, a multidisciplinary studio created to tackle urban projects of all scales. “It’s taken me all this time to collect my experiences,” laughs Presber. “But, looking back now, it all makes sense.” WL