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Shields up! 

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Featured In This Image: Highly protective technical mask by  RACHEL SUDBURRY AND EMILE RACINE  

MAKING MASKS FOR FRIENDS AND

FAMILY, YOUNG DESIGNERS TO THE RESCUE. 

PUBLISHED by MILAN TANEDJIKOV 

MAY 27, 2020

TEXT by ESTELLE GERVAIS

PHOTOGRAPHY by GUILLAUME KIROUAC 

STYLING, MODEL, HAIR & MAKEUP by ÉLOÏSE SIMARD

GRAPHIC DESIGN by JOHNELLE SMITH

They say these are unprecedented times and therefore call for unprecedented measures. While it’s hard to see the light in such eerie circumstances, people have come together in all sorts of ways to make it a little bit easier for everyone. That’s the case for Montreal-based fashion students, recent graduates, and up-and-coming local designers, acting as modern-day super (design) heroes, here to save the day. With the current growing demand for personal health gears, it just happened that they are uniquely positioned and skilled to make you feel safer while still looking fabulous! 

Forcefully emerged in this new reality, a lot of us are now faced with the same dilemma: what to do with all this time on our hands? It just happens that, sometimes, that’s when the magic happens. Being unemployed and yet motivated to help out, the young designers quickly realized the growing opportunity. Not having to rely on complex supply or distribution channels, they were able to meet the demand of their friends and family using their sewing machines from the comfort of their homes. And now, lucky you, it’s your turn to benefit from it! Not only will you shield yourself from the devil COVID, but all the profits will go directly to these young creatives to help finance their debut collections. Shopping with a cause? Sign us up! 

For certain designers, this meant sharing their very specific skill sets. That’s the case for Rachel Sudbury, a recent graduate from the Technical Clothing Program at LaSalle and CAFA nominee for the Simons Fashion Design Student Award, and Émile Racine, a bachelor in Industrial Design from Université de Montréal. While Rachel is specialized in outdoor performance clothing, which requires precise technical skills to creative specific functionalities, Émile has been working on his own footwear line, using 2D and 3D scanners and printers to create his prototypes. This well-balanced collaboration enabled them to create their mask prototype in just two weeks: while he worked the computer, she hustled to find the perfect materials for it. Consumer safety has been their main priority, sustainability a close second, while the importance of user-experience meant making the mask intuitive to assemble. And so, the duo fashioned a modular, ergonomic design that completely covers the mouth and nose in a tight grip, with removable filters.  The washable textile parts easily interlock themselves together with the 3D printed filter for effortless wear. You just know Bane would love it! 

On the other end of the spectrum, other designers chose to put forward their commitment to a greener world. Ever heard of upcycling? In response to the current mass-production and waste created by the fashion industry, it’s the creative reuse of common objects, such as your retro curtains into t-shirts, or in Damini Chowdhry’s case, her mother’s vintage traditional Indian dresses into face masks. The hard-working young designer and LaSalle College graduate were juggling two jobs and custom orders when the world came at a halt. Motivated to keep herself busy, she started researching what could come handy. And so, when her mom gave her a buzz asking if she’d take some dresses off her hands, the designer knew she’d hit the jackpot. Interestingly enough, giving a second life to those garments took an unexpected turn for Damini: playing with the heritage-filled fabric made her reconnect with her roots. While she chooses to not wear the traditional dresses herself, this became a way for her to include her cultural identity in her collection, something she feels it was lacking before. Plus, it creates a really cool contrast with her usually sporty-style! In fact, she thinks that the mask is here to stay as a fashion accessory: we’ll have to wear these for a while, so why not sport a beaded-silk face cover while we ride the wave. After all, it’s as safe as that plain cotton one you have on right now! 

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Featured In This Image: Highly protective technical mask by  RACHEL SUDBURRY AND EMILE RACINE  and upcycled non-medical cloth covering by  DAMINI CHOWDHRY

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Rachel Sudbury (yes, that same one!) stayed close to home (and her heart!) for this series. Teaming up with her boyfriend Jacky Sophocle, who is also a recent fashion design graduate, the designer couple was already super well-equipped to produce from the safety of their apartment. Using Rachel’s personal collection as a creative start-off point, the upcycled fabric she’d been accumulating came in handy in the confection of these masks. But, don’t be fooled: while creating a fashionable product was at the core of this specific project, their main priority has been throughout the safety of the wearer. Indeed, under that gorgeous recycled doubled-fabric, a filter pocket was added for extra protection. The couple also spent countless hours researching not only the best techniques and fabrics to create their mask, but also understanding the virus itself in order to protect you properly. After all, they are designers -- the necessity of making a good and useful product comes first. As Rachel so cleverly explained, fashion and functionality CAN coexist: while it’s vital that your winter coat be extra warm, you also chose it specifically to represent your personal style. And so, why should a protective mask be boring-looking?

They both believe that upcycling is here to stay: people have become more conscious of their environment, they thrift shop or buy second-hand, focus on what they truly need in their wardrobe, and support more than ever local designers. Now, that’s a timeless trend we’d like to see stick! 

​ESCAPING THE LOCKED-DOWN CITY TO TAKE SHELTER AT HIS PARENTS’ HOUSE IN THE SUBURBS SEEMED LIKE THE RIGHT MOVE TO MAKE FOR PATRICE BLAIS, HOPING FOR A QUIETER SPACE TO CREATE WHILE SPENDING TIME WITH HIS LOVED ONES. WHAT DOES SOMEONE WITH LOTS OF TIME AND CREATIVITY TO CHANNEL DOES?

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Rip up the curtains, bust out mom’s old sewing machine, and get to work. Mommy dearest also happens to be the one who inspired him to start weaving, as she did when he was a kid. It’s also important to note that upcycling aligns with Patrice Blais’s personal values. As someone that is against the extravagant pollution made by the fashion industry, this designer tries to find his own ways to make less of an impact on the environment. 

With the negative energy spreading like wildfire, Patrice struggled the first few weeks to redefine his purpose as a designer in this pandemic-crazed world. Being separated from his fellow mentees and creative community, the feeling of being left alone can become a tough pill to swallow. Thankfully, these masks have enabled him to survive artistically and channel his creativity. Silver linings are real, people!! Now, lemme briefly explain how cute this mask is. The catalogne weaving technique he uses here creates a delicate and colourful pattern which is sown on top of a systematic, protective mask. He also said that he will continue to incorporate the mask as an accessory in his future collections, so stay tuned ;).

Featured In This Image: Handwoven nonmedical masks by  PATRICE BLAIS

NOW, IF YOU ARE THE KIND OF PERSON THAT THINKS “new (fabric) is always better”, LOOK NO FURTHER THAN LIZA RAHMANKULOVA’S DESIGNS

Now, if you are the kind of person that thinks “new (fabric) is always better”, look no further than Liza Rahmankulova’s designs. Right before the pandemic hit, the LaSalle College fashion design graduate had made the ultimate jump: she’d quit her full-time job as a 3D garment operator to pursue her dream. As the quarantine started, she was already immersed in her new lifestyle, but not having the necessary materials or machines stopped her momentum to create the ultimate collection. She had started selling masks on Etsy when she was approach for this project, which then enabled her to fully incorporate her aesthetic to the protective gear she had already developed. Inspired by her own collection which focuses on rural lifestyle, the gorgeous pattern she personally developed is screen-printed on the two layers of woven cotton fabric that compose the mask. The added filter pocket also makes it a safe bet. As for the future, she is currently experimenting with knitting, print and fabric manipulation, in the hopes that the post-pandemic fashion industry will make more room for locally-made, artisanal products.

As for designer Kaya Berfin, the recycling of everyday household fabrics, such as tablecloths, has been at the core of her design philosophy for a while now. It’s therefore no surprise that she decided to use deadstock textile made for rugs to create her fashionable mask! The beautifully-textured fabric is complimented by golden fringes that, once on your face, give the impression of a stylish scarf. She insists that this mask is indeed a fashion accessory per se and not a medical mask: “it’s a visual that fits with the new world we live in right now”. While Kaya has been accumulating fabrics such as the one she used for this mask, the ressources on her side have also been reduced. Because she cannot physically create her other garments at the moment, she decided to focus on aspects of her design she had left on the backburner when she was working full-time, such as her portfolio and fabric research. She misses dearly the weekly meetings with the mentees, that rush you get from collaborating directly with others. Let’s just hope for all of them they get to reunite real soon to create fabulous clothing for all of us! 

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Featured In This Image: Screen-printed artizanal by LYZA  RAHMANKULOVA 

When asked how this new reality has affected his protégés, Milan Tanedjikov said: “The coronavirus has definitely cost them, at least temporarily, their job and dreams. Needless to say, I am worried!    Knowing that the future success of our industry is bound up with the skills and talents of young people, I am hoping that this whole generation of up-and-coming local designers isn’t lost”. But don’t be fooled, the mentor hasn’t played all his cards yet! This website happens to be an exhibit A on a series of actions he put in motion with his frequent collaborators as we are all quarantined. So, don’t forget to refresh this site on a weekly basis to see what’s going on with your favorite local design crew! Loads of content coming as refreshing as that margarita you’ve been dreaming of. 

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You’ve got to know a little better some  of LIGNES DE FUITE’s designers, and you surely have made up your mind on their products. Let’s say it together: THEY ROCK! Plus, you’re not only helping yourself, indeed your purchase has tremendous power in the sense that it provides a creative purpose to these young designers as they are confined. And, let’s be real, you really do need a mask: you can’t just “power through it”, for the sake of others. Not feeling too hot this morning? Call your boss, stay home, and hope for the best.

 

OH, AND **WEAR**A**MASK**. NOW, WHO SAID FASHION WAS FUTILE?! 

On behalf of Rachel, Emile, Jacky, Damini, Patrice, Liza, Kaya, Milan Tanedjikov, HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Big Bird, and your grandmother, we say: click that button, purchase that one-of-a-kind mask, and wear it proudly!

 

 Plus, they do make a cute gift to your mom and dad who are picky about their safety and looks ;)