Leigha Stiles’ artistry began in her childhood with the playful creation of paper clothing designs.
With the evolution of her talent came more realistic designs — she adjusted store-bought clothing to suit her personal style while adding original pieces to her wardrobe.
Stiles, who’s now in her second year of the Fine Arts program, hopes to specialize in painting and printmaking in her third and fourth year.
Alongside her devotion to freelance art and classroom assignments, she’s a dedicated member of the Queen’s Women’s Varsity Rugby Team. She said she’s often encouraged by professors to incorporate the aggression and strength behind the sport into her paintings.
She’s equally enthusiastic about fashion, describing her personal style as sleek and edgy.
“Fashion is a visual representation of your style and yourself. It’s how you want to portray yourself to everyone around you,” she said.
Stiles says creativity and patience are necessary skills for fashion designers, especially self-taught ones like herself.
“Every time I would get clothing, I would look at how it is made. Where the stitches are and how the shapes go together. I looked on the internet for patterns,” she said.
“I figure it out as I go.”
Patience is a necessity for pieces like Stiles’ own prom dress, a floor-length periwinkle gown with a high neckline and mesh detailing. The dress took Stiles over 30 hours to craft.
Original clothing pieces designed and assembled by student artist Leigha Stiles. (Photos supplied by Leigha Stiles)
The young designer has yet to reveal her designs to the public, as her debut is scheduled for this February at the Vogue Charity Fashion Show. With outside influences like Kanye West and Yves Saint Laurent, Stiles’ collection of eight edgy outfits is based on S.E. Hinton’s 1967 novel, The Outsiders.
Her take on streetwear promises to bring the novel’s sense of ostracism, peer pressure and rebellion to life.
“I re-read the book and watched the movie to gain inspiration. I started sketching,” Stiles said. “I thought of what they would be wearing at the time [the book was written], but I wanted to make it more modern.”
For example, Stiles incorporates the iconic phrase “stay golden, Ponyboy” into one of her pieces by placing a golden pony emblem on a simple white T-shirt.
The aspiring designer — who calls herself a “trendsetter” — lists Jackson Pollock and Vincent van Gogh as her sources of inspiration and motivation.
“They’re trendsetters. I would like to do the same,” she said.
“I want to be known as making my individualistic style, starting my movement.”
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