Finding freedom

The start of our Vogue three part series looks into the inspiration for fourth-year designer Brittany Brewster

Brittany Brewster works on her sewing machine in her living room preparing pieces for her men’s and women’s collection in this year’s Vogue.
Brittany Brewster works on her sewing machine in her living room preparing pieces for her men’s and women’s collection in this year’s Vogue.

All she wanted was a caesar on the beach.

“It was in the middle of the summer, I was doing a course and I was working a full-time job and just like in that moment I couldn’t, I didn’t have the time to go sit on a patio deck and have a drink with a bunch of friends,” the fourth-year designer Brittany Brewster said of her collection for this year’s Vogue charity fashion show.

“[In] some weird way it expressed itself in the line. In just how your life can end up so structured and how do you find your own freedom.”

Finding your freedom became the message of Brewster’s line, perfectly aligning with this year’s Vogue theme, VS. — What’s your fight?

“My fight is kind of a conflict in my own self-control and my own freedom and where they meet and how they push each other back and forth,” Brewster said.

Brewster will express her fight through a transformative collection that starts off rigid and ends flowing.

“The whole line starts out really corsetry and a lot of nudes and blacks and very, very muted tones,” she said. “Then as the line progresses these really dark, bold lines and very structured garments fade into really flowy pieces, lots and lots of colours and almost patterns that clash quite a bit.”

Brewster headed to a fabric store after our Sunday afternoon interview, looking for more material for her men’s and women’s collections. She said she’ll finish most of her pieces before reading week — excluding final fittings.

“I will start sewing at 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. because no one’s around,” she said. “No one can distract you and you just kind of go, that’s when I get the most work done when it’s the middle of the night.”

Brewster does most of her sewing in her living room, spreading out the fabrics across furniture — making her housemate very nervous.

“She’s paranoid about the pins,” Brewster said. “When you’re laying out patterns or when you’re cutting out fabric, it truly takes up the entire room, there’s just yards of fabric stretched across the room. And she’s just so good, she will ask ‘Can I move this?’” While the designer is a self-described “coffee fiend,” she said stimulants aren’t what keep her going for all hours of the night.

“You are watching progress happen,” she said. “Every step of the way you’re getting closer to a finished project, it’s visible so you have a desire to keep going.”

Brewster got her start in design in Grade 6 when her mom took her to the fabric store to make a pair of pyjama bottoms that were never finished. But in high school she took multiple fashion classes, making jackets, purses and pyjama bottoms.

“I finished all my projects early one year and my teacher’s like ‘Well you have to do another project, what do you want to do?’” she said. “When they were young, my mom and dad never wore the same bathing suit twice. They grew up on the beach together and so I was like ‘I want to be like that.’”

That began Brewster’s passion for swimsuit design. She designed swimwear lines for Vogue in 2009 and 2010. The designer now has drawers full of bathing suits.

“In the summer, people will be like, ‘Want to go out on the boat?’ and I’ll be like ‘Give me two hours, I just need to make a bathing suit.’” In her last year as part of Vogue, Brewster is going back to designing clothing, a decision she didn’t have control over.

“I just thought it would be interesting to sort of flip back to clothing and there’s quite a bit more freedom because there’s a lot more that you can do with clothing than with swimsuits,” she said.

Brewster gets most of her fabric from Vancouver, but she finds inspiration all over. But she isn’t a designer who carries around a sketch-book full of ideas.

“I’ll sketch something down, but rarely will I forget something in my head,” she said. “It kind of just goes from my head into a bunch of numbers into a pattern into a garment.”

Vogue will play from March 14 to 16 at 7 p.m. at the Grand Theatre.

Interview: Alyssa Ashton
Camera: Justin Chin
Editor: Justin Chin

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