She’s a photographer, a visual artist, a fashion designer and all around creative and she’s only 16. Fellow Canadian Julia Thompson of J.Morrison Designs has wowed us at Zeum with her ambition, creativity, and not to mention overall talent at such a young age. Her ambitions have drove her to apply for early admission to Parsons School of Design in NYC and Central Saint Martins in London where she hopes to major in fashion design at one of the listed schools. Here we talk with the young talent about her bubblegum pop designs, her charity work with Free the Children, and her plans for the future.
When did you first develop an interest in sewing and fashion design? My grandmother was very crafty and was constantly sewing dresses for my sister and I when we were little. When I was about 10 years old or so she showed me how to sew and taught me a few things, after she passed away I fell in love with fashion. I then started taking sewing classes at a studio in Toronto and taught my self at home as well.
How does your own personal style reflect in your line? When I sew and create clothing I always find a way to incorporate a bit of myself in each piece. I’m a very bold and crazy person and that’s how I would describe my style in a nutshell. I love colour and texture in my own personal style and in collections. I always find new materials and fabrics to explore with in my collections and I find I love wearing crazy patterns or fabrics like plastic.
Favourite article of clothing you own at the moment? This past summer I was in London for the weekend, actually visiting Central Saint Martins, and while I was there I went to a few shops. One shop I loved was called & Other Stories and I bought this blue sparkly skirt. The skirt’s high wasted and a really interesting satin material with a shiny layer on top. There is a zipper down the front and the outfit’s completed with a tight plain top. I recently re discovered it just in time for Toronto Fashion week!
We’re really interested in hearing about your Summer ’13 line, particularly your fish piece. We love the mix of living elements and plastic. Is this a trend that you will continue to explore in your future work? In my recent fashion collection A/Biotic, I used present-day abiotic materials like plastic tubes, metal and chicken wire, juxtaposed with biotic materials such as plants, leaves, bark, twigs, orange peels and live fish. I used paint, markers, and sculpted wire to bind the pieces together. This collection was an art piece that represents my daily encounters. My inspiration was the intersection of the urban and natural environments that I explore in my neighborhood: a forested ravine next to a major construction project. This concept is something I really want to continue to work on and play with, maybe with a different theme but I love the idea of mixing two completely different ideas together.
Did you have any inspirations and/or mentors during the creation of your line thus far? Definitely, just last year I interned with a very inspirational and well-known Toronto designer; Adrian Wu. Wu’s work is very out of the box and different and he taught me that as long as I keep on sewing and pushing the boundaries creatively then I’ll be successful. He’s mentored me and constantly explained that age doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how young or old you are if you’re talented you’ll succeed. I also have worked in Toronto fashion week for 3 years now and every year have learnt something new.
You have worked with Canadian organization Free the Children by donating proceeds from your line. Please tell us a bit about this experience! In Summer 2012, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Kenya (Nairobi specifically) on a service trip for 3 weeks. On this trip we built the foundation of an all girls high school and meet younger children in the villages and played with them during recess daily. On this trip I learnt so much about myself as a person and the world that surrounds us. Near the end of the trip I had an epiphany. This sudden idea changed me. I decided to buy traditional Kenyan fabric in the different markets around our campsite. I bought multiples beautiful patterns and designs, when I got home I sewed different scrunches and headbands with this fabric. All the money from my collection went directly to Free the Children; the company I travelled with during that summer.
Tell us a bit about your past collaborations with illustrators, visual artists, and writers. I have collaborated with a few different artists in the past 2 years. My first collaborator was a good friend of mine Lexi Harvey, who is an amazing writer. She wrote on top of a series of images I created and we based our collaboration on body image. The illustration collaborations I’ve participated in have been all of a similar theme. I always love to see how its turns out! It’s a very exciting process filled with new worlds and environments being created in an image.
What can we expect to see from you in the future regarding your fashion line, visual art, and photography? What moods and/or feelings do you try to convey in these mediums? To be honest with me I don’t even know what to expect. I always just go with my gut, when I have an idea or even a material I like I just go for it and before I know it I have an entire photo shoot in front of me. I am starting to work a lot with mixed media and using a lot of film. I’m starting to become a bit obsessed with film actually, I love making and controlling my own place just with my imagination and ideas. My work usually consists of a lot of happy, colourful, and bright themes, however lately I’ve been experimenting a lot with more edgy lighting and designs.