TALK TO ME: Amanda Lew Kee, part II

Story by Paul Aguirre-Livingston. Illustration by Ayalah Hutchins.

This is the second part of our conversation with Toronto fashion designer Amanda Lew Kee. You can read the first part here.

If you could collaborate with any person (past or present) on any project (fashion-related or otherwise), who would it be and what would you create?

“Past: McQueen. Create structural objects to beautify one’s foot.

Present: Intern with Mark Fast, Erdem Moralioglu, Nicolas Ghesquière.

Future: Nick Knight. Make fashion films.”

Lady Gaga. Is she: a fashion revolution, a fad, or a fake?

“I think that Gaga is a brilliant person and obviously has a strong team working behind her image. She’s trying to reach the masses with her ‘revolutionary’ style and the fact that people are catching on shows that she’s doing something right. By doing something different, she’s allowing for more acceptance of the ‘abnormal’ in today’s society—though reinventing yourself can only happen so many times before the atypical becomes typical.”

You told me that you’d consider leaving Toronto to pursue bigger opportunities and grow your label. What’s the latest on that?

“Yes, I plan to head to London in the near future. I think that Toronto is a great city and has a lot to offer, but I feel the need to spread my roots and explore opportunities around the creative world.”

How important is it to you to stay connected to Canadian fashion? Do you follow the local scene?

“Canadian fashion is important to me on a certain level—in Toronto I’ve fostered great relationships with many industry professionals and it’s important to remain connected with the people who have helped my development along the way. I  follow the local scene and often run into Toronto designers at industry gatherings: the boys of Greta Constantine, Evan Biddell, Ashley Rowe and Erin Kleinberg, to name a few.”

You’ve risen quickly in the Toronto fashion scene. How have you handled all the attention, and what have you learned about yourself?

“Attention? I’d rather call it reassurance. It’s a great feeling to know that influential people are supporting my vision and guiding me in the right direction. I can’t see myself in any other field of work. I stay humble by keeping this ‘attention’ separate from my personal life; I’ve seen a lot of my peers deteriorate during a fast rise. I’ve learned that there is still so much that I need to experience and learn, and that there are so many opportunities available if I continue to work hard. Arkan Zakharov, a Toronto photographer, once told me a great quote that accurately describes what I’m going through as a young designer: ‘Learning to fly as you fall.’”

What’s next for you?

“Remain on the same pace and strive on a daily basis to improve myself as a designer, businesswoman, and person in general. I’ve been working on my Spring 2011 collection, planning another short film with Felix Wong, working out an arrangement with Glen Baxter for Fashion Television. I’m also hosting events at Nyood and The Thompson Hotel with my partner Jaclyn Genovese of Jacflash, and making an appearance in an American fashion magazine.”

Kate Moss by Nick Knight. This photo shoot was streamed live on Knight’s ShowStudio site.

The already iconic Spring 2010 shoes designed by the late Alexander McQueen.

Designer Erdem Moralioglu.

Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong of Greta Constantine.

Check out our Talk to Me conversations with Calla Haynes, Robin Givhan, Nathalie Atkinson, Sarah Nicole Prickett and Danielle Meder!

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