Cinthya Chalifoux is a passionate designer that is dedicated to creating traditional and innovative wearable pieces. Her personal attire alone is striking when we met her- with a strong sense of style and poise, she reminded us of a modern Coco Chanel. Being the founder of Bespokenov, a growing fashion house specializing in bespoke (explained below), she has many associated projects underway with artists such as Stikki Peaches (find his story here) and A. Pigeon, an emerging electronic artist.
Learning from the best in the world – traveling to New York, Paris, and London to do so, she is determined to pursue her dream and create the best product possible. Her dedication to her unique craft is undeniable – she fabricates pieces of art you can wear. Recently being exposed at none other than, the McCord Museum – we look forward to watching this innovative brand develop itself and continue to make interesting pieces. Even though she is currently working overseas – we were able to learn more about her through the captivating interview below.
Let’s start with a critical question – where do you shop for your clothes and why? Favorite designer?
Crucial indeed! I mostly shop fabrics for myself as I make almost all I own- I am also a vintage wear lover.
Alexander Mc Queen (sight.) John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood. My favorite trio!
What is bespoke? How do you feel about mainstream clothing stores like The Gap?
Bespoke is a philosophy, a way of thinking and making. We always associate it to suits, but it applies to anything entirely built by hand whether it’s an overcoat, a hat or a corset. Bespoke is handcrafted. Therefore all pieces made this way have a soul of their own as they are sculpted with a particular aesthetic, medium, and muse.
I personally don’t believe in mainstream clothing stores. It is rather radical perhaps, but I think that we have reached a peak of consumption, granted, not everyone has the means to buy custom, but there are ways to buy smart instead of buying more than we need. Not to point out Gap in particular but the way we mass produce garments makes us clones of one another, is unethical and significantly hurts the planet we live on.
What would you like the general public to know most about your art form that is misunderstood?
Two recurrent questions- first the price, it is thought that handcraft is out of reach and only for extremely wealthy individuals. Yes, handcraft is expensive given some labors involved, but it is a different way of buying and not as drastic as we think. It is art, therefore an investment that can be worn.
Second- the tailor myth; a lot of people think that tailoring implies classic aesthetic. I like to refer to a tailor as an architect, able to materialize a creative thought. Before the stylist era (before 1900) only tailors were allowed to create styles, they were the first stylists. Some of our greatest designers were trained as tailors, that background gave them freedom to technically create whimsical collections. (Cristobal Balenciaga, Alexander Mc Queen)
When we met you told me about the differences in specialties of the couture style of Paris and London – can you explain this?
Paris has something the rest of the world does not, it’s the birthplace of haute couture, and therefore, just as champagne can only be labeled in such way if it’s produced there, haute couture has to be made in Paris. Haute couture is to the ladies what grande measure is to gentlemen, it’s the French way. Bespoke is the English version of grande mesure. To make this all a little more complicated, there’s also the Italian style, called sartoria! To make this easy to understand, the techniques, constructions, and style essences are slightly different due to cultural differences and baggage.
You chose to learn about both – why?
As a work ethic matter, I wanted to find out more handcraft techniques to feel complete. The French way was said to be similar to the English way which I love, it was also a team choice with my apprentice Kamil to go to France and also acquire haute couture embroidery skills.
Accomplishment you are the proudest of so far in your career?
Standing for what I believe in. Not being afraid to jump and start over. I closed a business once and what felt like a failure first turned out to be the best business move, and significant career accomplishments followed.
Cinthya – in a few words, how would you describe yourself?
A creative, passionate, curious and perfectionist person!
How did you discover your passion for couture&tailoring and how did it develop through the years?
In regards of couture, at about 6 years old, watching old movies with my mother and seeing my grandmother sewing. Around 13 I started sewing lessons. Tailoring came into my life at 18 as a gift from a talented mentor. Those worlds opened up to more, I’ve worked fur, the leather started embroidering, weaving and being highly interested in art crafts as silk flowers, passementerie, and feather work. I don’t think I’ll ever stop developing. As we speak, I am learning the French bespoke way!