I was recently fortunate enough to pop by my friend Lara Presber’s new studio in Calgary to check out this fabulous new space being used both for architectural work as well as housing and creating the designer’s latest collections.
Lucky to have enough time for a glass of Prosecco and to see Lara off before embarking on a solo six-week El Camino de Santiago adventure through Spain, I was also able to sneak in a few questions about her latest work and inspiration.
KC: As a young professional working in an artistic field, why choose to live and work in Calgary?
LP: The choice to live and work in Calgary happened quite coincidentally. I had never intended to stay after moving back from Europe, but I met so many inspiring people and realized that the city has so much potential for design. We have a completely untapped and unsaturated design market partnered with a robust economy. The designers that are here now (in all disciplines) are laying the foundation for and shaping the future of our city. That’s pretty rare for an urban centre that’s already reached a critical mass of 1 million people.
KC: What about Calgary inspires you the most as a fashion designer and architect?
LP: I’m inspired by the openness in both fields of clients who are willing to try something different. People are starting to recognize the value of having something that has been designed by a professional where detail is paramount. That makes me really excited and is so different from where we were when I first came back.
KC: You feature one piece from your collection each month on shop.larapresber.com, stating ‘Building your wardrobe one piece at time’. How did this concept formulate?
LP: ‘Building your wardrobe one piece at a time’ of course is a play on architecture, but also the tendency that I saw in my retail store of women who really coveted one beautiful and unique piece every few months combined with the service of being fitted personally by the designer. It creates a nice memory around the piece and an anticipation that we don’t experience much any more in our instant world. The price break component was inspired by the premise behind Kickstarter; it’s a great way to encourage buyers to share the piece with a friend, which in turn benefits everyone.
KC: Your architectural background tends to inspire your collections. Can you give us a hint of what might be inspiring the next season’s collection?
LP: My Spain trip is going to play a huge part in the inspiration behind the next collection. I have no idea what it will be yet, but feel optimistic that after spending six weeks on an open road wandering from town to town, I’ll discover something spectacular!
KC: Where can people check out your collection?
The current collection can be found (one piece at a time) on larapresber.com, as well as some pieces from previous seasons at fabulous savings.
Photo by Curtis Dez Photography
By Christina Kuntz, Calgary Herald November 6, 2012
It began as a fun way to raise money for programs at The Art Gallery of Calgary.
Ten years later, Elizabeta Liguric says ARTwear has become one of the gallery’s biggest events.
“It really has grown,” says the manager of development at the gallery.
“We’ve had such great support from the community, and every year we try to do something different and stretch our limits by doing something creative that we haven’t done before.”
This year, Liguric says they plan to mark the 10-year-anniversary of their annual fashion fundraiser with a special celebration on Thursday night.
As with previous years, they’ll be showcasing the work of students from the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD), who have created wearable art designs around this year’s ARTwear theme – vintage Hollywood.
But Liguric says this is the first time those designs will be featured on the main runway at Hotel Arts.
“We’ve been collaborating with ACAD for six years,” says Liguric, “and we wanted to switch things up a bit and try to showcase the students more this year.
“Fashion is a form of expression and it’s definitely an art form, and these students use a lot of different materials and come up with some really innovative forms of art.”
As well as featuring those designs on the runway, the gallery also decided to bring in some top Calgary designers for this year’s ARTwear.
Paul Hardy and Lara Presber will be presenting their latest collections, along with styles from local boutiques including Mealan Women’s Finery, Leo Boutique, Coco + Violet and Henry Singer.
Presber, whose studio combines fashion, architecture and interior design, is a big supporter of the arts and says she was happy to take part in this year’s special show.
“I really believe in what the art gallery is doing, especially now,” says Presber.
“This year, there’s so much more awareness of the arts (with Calgary) being the cultural capital of Canada, and Calgary is really on the international radar, so I think it’s important to find ways to be on the map for cultural, educational, and art-based programs, as opposed to just our international notoriety for oil and gas.”
In addition to a sneak peek of her upcoming summer collection, Presber will be showing designs from her fall collection, which was inspired by The Bow building.
Featuring structured and asymmetrical styles and an emphasis on the colour navy, the collection has a classic, “1940s Paris” feel that Presber says fits in well with ARTwear’s vintage Hollywood theme.
“Classic is always in style,” she says. “It transcends different fashion movements or trends.”
Though the focus of the fundraiser is to celebrate the art of fashion, Liguric says there is more to ARTwear than beautiful designs and a fun night out.
The purpose of the event is to raise money for the gallery’s art education programs, and the night will also include a silent auction featuring prizes that range from sports items to an astronaut-training experience.
“This event allows us to expand our art education programs,” says Liguric.
“We have an in-house school where we can host children, and we have educators and teachers that come in for workshops. We also have an outreach program, which means that our teachers go to the schools and they do their art workshops there.
“Currently, we’re looking to find ways to provide transportation for schools that can’t afford to come to the gallery. So we’re hoping that with the money we raise from this year’s fundraiser, we can somehow sponsor those schools and get more kids into the gallery.”
ARTwear will be held on Thursday, Nov. 8, at Hotel Arts (119 12th Ave. S.W.).
Doors open at 7: 30 p.m. and tickets are available at artwear.zoobis.com. For more information on the event, go to artgallerycalgary.org.