Dear Reader,

Typically the career trajectory of the average fashion designer looks like this. The designer has a passion for fashion from a young age and instead of drawing pictures in elementary school of their mom, dad, and pets – they produce a prolific amount of fashion illustrations featuring gowns on sylph models. If the budding young designer is fortunate enough to be born into a family that nurtures their passion life will be less complicated. Sadly, more often than not this is not the case. More often the designer will meet opposition from their parents and be forced to study more traditionally respected disciplines such as medicine, law, or finance. The designer at Atelier Grandi first came to my attention September 2014 when a former MLZ contributor submitted a comprehensive synopsis of her work copied and pasted from the Vancouver Fashion Week and Atelier Grandi website and promotional materials. We happily ran the piece and were grateful to the contributor for their efforts. But something was missing – culling the facts from a designer’s promotional materials simply does not delve deep enough into what really makes them tick. As luck would have it fate provided us with the perfect opportunity to meet face-to-face with Atelier Grandi at the Yew Lounge in the Four Seasons Hotel Saturday September 19th (after one of her fitting sessions with the models for her upcoming runway presentation at Vancouver Fashion Week Sept 28- Oct 04 2015). Jamal Abdourahman (founder of VFW) was gracious enough to treat us to a sumptuous spread of food and beverages and thoughtfully brought along Grandi for an exclusive interview. This face-to-face meeting provided us with an excellent setting to really delve into what inspires this young lady. Needless to say, her thoughtful answers did not disappoint us!

About Atelier Grandi:

First and foremost it is important to clarify something here. Grandi is the designers birth name. It is not a clever marketing tactic or play on words such as Grand. Grandi was fortunate enough to be given a name befitting of her GRAND fashion design skill sets. Here are some of the key variables that make Grandi such a rare and valuable asset to the fashion world. Unlike most of her contemporaries Grandi did not grow up pouring over fashion magazines. When asked what designers provided her with aesthetic inspiration she could not list any. Why, because unlike most of her peers in the fashion world Grandi is an outsider. Grandi’s design aesthetic follows the purist arch of the “Outsider Artistic movement”,

the English term “outsider art” is often applied more broadly, to include certain self-taught or naïve art makers who were never institutionalized. Typically, those labeled as outsider artists have little or no contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions.

What this means in practical terms is that her design aesthetic is pure and unadulterated by outside influences. It is necessary to point out that neither Gabrielle Chanel nor Christian Dior had any formal fashion design training. I have been a keen follower of the fashion world since 1986 and never heard of a designer (in recent times) that has ascended as rapidly as Atelier Grandi to her level of success who is an “outsider”. In this era of credentialism and the increasing commodification of education it is rare to come across a self-taught purist like Atelier Grandi. This fact came up time after time during our discussions regarding her design aesthetic.

WWW.METROLIVINGZINE NEWS IMAGE CREDIT: Image from Donna Karan’s 1985 7 Easy Pieces Collection.

Atelier Grandi Design Aesthetic:

Plain and simple Grandi designs the type of clothes that she wants to wear. This approach to design separates the designers who tend to make it from the designers who languish in the avant-garde Artistic realm. Sure, concocting fantastical garments may provide an excellent creative outlet – but will anyone want to buy them? All successful fashion designers need to negotiate the conflicting constraints of satiating consumer demand with garments that demonstrate aesthetic creativity but are also wearable, flattering, and most importantly appropriate! During our conversation Grandi disclosed that she had recently produced a capsule collection of essential pieces that she believes belong in every woman’s wardrobe. I asked her if she had taken her inspiration from Dona Karan’s seminal 7 Easy Pieces Collection which debuted in 1985.
It was Karan’s 7 Easy Pieces collection that put her on the map and alerted the world that she was a serious designer to keep an eye on. In effect, this collection launched Donna Karan’s career. In 1985 the garments deemed to be necessary in a working woman’s wardrobe consisted of black bodysuits, tights, wrap skirts, pull-on knit pants, tailored jackets and all sorts of cashmere layers. Fast forward thirty years later to 2015 and the concept of 7 easy pieces is just as relevant today as it was back then. However, in 2015 there are 14 garments considered to be essential in every woman’s wardrobe according to Grandi. It is noteworthy to point out that after Grandi disclosed she had put together an essentials capsule collection I asked her if the inspiration was culled from Dona Karan’s 1985 7 Easy Pieces Collection. Grandi did not know who Dona Karan was. She knew of the DKNY diffusion line but was not familiar with Donna Karan’s seminal 1985, 7 Easy Pieces Essentials Collection that launched her career and defined fashion for an entire generation of women entering the workforce. When we said that Grandi has an unadulterated purist approach to Fashion we were not joking!

Atelier Grandi 14 piece Summer Essentials