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KIRK PICKERSGILL

&

STEPHEN WONG

FASHION DESIGNERS OF GRETA/EZRA CONSTANTINE

TORONTO, CANADA

 

 

  

Kirk and Stephen are two talented designers with individual success.  Kirk has a background in fashion design earning himself a degree at one of the prestigious fashion schools 'ISTITUTO MARANGONI' and has worked for designers Dsquared2 and Neil Barrett.  Stephen is a costume designer working on films such as CHICAGO and Hairspray.  The two met in Toronto and soon became great friends and decided to start a clothing line together; Greta Constantine and Ezra Constantine.


Exclusively Fashion Magazine: Can you both tell me how your careers as designers began?

Kirk Pickersgill: I started my career working for a Toronto based fashion company Comrags.  I did a coop course in the last year of high school and they hired me on when I finished.  From there I traveled across Europe then settled in Milan and worked with designer and best friends Dean & Dan Caten of Dsquared2.  For me that was like going to fashion school.  They taught me so much.  I learned how to fine tune styling and to always think outside the box in the most creative way possible.  I learned about designing when I worked with Neil Barrett.  He was/is the master of a true designer.  He used to be the menswear designer for 'Prada'.  I learned how to choose beautiful fabric and what to look for when working with knits.  I have to say that I have been very fortunate!!

 Stephen Wong: I've always had a great interest in fashion.  In fact, it was because of that common interest that Kirk and I became such good friends.  The topic of having our own line of clothes was something that we talked about on occasion, but it never felt like the right time to do it until around 4 years ago.  We had each gained a lot of experience from our separate careers within the industry, and felt that if we didn’t move ahead and start something, we wouldn’t ever do it.  We started out with a small capsule collection to “test the waters”, and we received very favorable feedback from industry insiders. I’m not the kind of person to be sure of anything, but we were both sure that GRETA CONSTANTINE would do well.  We share a very clear vision of where the brand is headed.

EFM: You met your designing partner Stephen in Canada, when did you both decide that you wanted to collaborate together as a duo?

KP:  We've known each other for years and from the very beginning we always promised each other that one day we would design a label together.  The day finally came in 2005.

EFM: Stephen has there been any time where you just didn't agree?

SW: For the most part, Kirk and I have very similar tastes.  We share much of the same references to fashion, so it’s easy for us to communicate ideas to each other accurately.  Certainly on occasion, we’ll see things differently, but we have enough respect for each others tastes to keep our minds open to each others opinions.  In a partnership that is a must!

EFM: Can it be difficult to combine your ideas for a collection?

KP: Fortunately we think alike we both like the same things and always on the same page.  We second guess ourselves all the time but then end results seems to work.

EFM: What gives Constantine inspiration?

SW: We get inspiration from many sources,,,,,each other, other people, the street.  Sometimes we stumble upon a great idea by mistake.  The key is to keep ones mind open which enables you to see things in a new way.



 




EFM: Editor in Chief of Canadian Fashion Magazine of Flare; Lisa Tant was spotted wearing one of your designs.  It was a deep plum dress with a rope across the shoulder; what gave you the inspiration of the design?

KP: Yes, that's one of her favorite dresses!  And mine too.  We call it knotting and we did a version of it on a smaller scale a few seasons earlier.  We were looking to do something bolder, stronger while keeping with out DNA.

EFM: Can we briefly speak about the Film 'CHICAGO'; how did you get the opportunity to design for the movie?

SW: I was never the designer for “Chicago”.  I worked on the wardrobe, but not in the capacity of designer.  The designer was Colleen Atwood.

EFM: Kirk, what gives you inspiration?

KP: Everything! Family, friends, stylish women, conversation, movies music, traveling, the internet, books, photographers, and each other.

EFM: What's the difference between a costume designer and a fashion designer?

SW: Costume design is to realize a specific character or period in time.  Fashion design is to create clothes with a direction/viewpoint.

EFM: What is your favorite thing that you like to see a women wear?

KP: A Greta Constantine piece of course.  It's the best feeling seeing someone in your clothes!

EFM: What do you think that makes a successful designer?

SW: In this day and age to be a successful designer, is to be many things. Aside from the obvious of knowing how to decipher trends, knowing how to accurately and properly translate ideas into garments, knowing who your customer is, and having a creative view which is also mindful of the customer.  A designer must also nowadays have the skills/presence to deal with media. Have a great business mind(or have a great business mind working with them).  And last, to be able to research/develop ideas to fruition.

EFM: Kirk, can you describe your personal style?

KP: My personal style is an edgy prep. Now I'm feeling 60's Mod.  Want to create a modern Mod.  It's all about the Beatles.

EFM: What advice can you give to the aspiring fashion designers?

SW: Learn everything you can about the industry.  Not just about the clothes, but also about the slew of other aspects that the fashion industry encompasses. i.e., models, photographers, agents, bookers, editors, writers, stylists, make-up/hair stylists, magazine/media, retailers, buyers.  The fashion industry is every bit as much business, and politically driven, as it is creative. It’s not as easy or glamorous as most people think.  Mind you, great moments do occur, but they pale in numbers compared to the difficult, stressful, and trying ones.  A dear friend once told me (when we started the company) that in order to survive, I’d have to live, breathe, and sleep fashion!!!  As true as it is, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

KP: Dedication, stay true to yourself, work hard and never give up!! 


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Interview by Rochell “E” James


   
 
 

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