The Colourful World of
Toronto, Canada: where
7 mins: read time
Eloïse Ptito-Echeverria is the designer behind the textile-focused clothing line Fauve. The garments she makes are peculiar explorations of colour and life. The garments and dresses in her most recent collection feature hand-painted nudes, mingling with embroidered flowers and sequinned fish. Her textile designs are explosive fields of colour whose meanings develop in the way they make you feel upon looking at them. You cannot look at her garments without feeling something.
We walk through the AGO's exhibit of abstract artists Joan Mitchell and Jean-Paul Riopelle. Eloïse looks closely at a swatch of colour on the canvas. She has decided that she prefers the feminine energy of Mitchell's work. Standing in front of a towering painting, she pauses to read the lovers' story. The large abstract paintings with vast fields of colour spanned a period of love and shared space between the two great artists. "It's awesome how two people were able to work together like that--to be a creative couple". She points out the times when Riopelle's work takes on Mitchell's influence...notices when the style of paint stroke changes. She has an eye for the details.
Afterwards, Eloïse leads me through Kensington Market to end the evening on the step of a shared studio space that she's just moved into. We climb the set of white stairs and right away are bombarded by the work of other Toronto creatives. Each studio is separated by space and decoration, creating a life of its own. We stop at Eloïse's space, against a window that faces west. Patterned curtains hang above the sewing table. Spread across her work table is a dress she's embroidering a design onto. She picks it up and begins stitching on the orange-red yarns as I ask her a few questions:
Your work shows a fearlessness in colour exploration. It's energizing. How do you go about putting together a colour palette or choosing the colours for a piece and collection?
I feel like colour for me is innate...it is pure intuition. It is not something that is really calculated. It's just something within me. It may be because I grew up with a mother who is a painter and an artist...but I think in colour. I whole-heartedly believe in the empowering qualities of colour--how they can make you feel something. People's lives can definitely be improved when they are exposed to them. I see it when I wear my colours... every day it touches people, makes them feel better. It can spark a connection and conversation. Playing dress-up and playing with colour are among the most important things you can do.
Do you feel like one's choice in clothing plays a very important role in portraying who they are?
Absolutely. People are always trying to attract others they can connect with through dress. Clothing is the perfect medium for that. I have found countless friends and partners through picking up on the subtle or not-so-subtle codes and references they have revealed through their clothing. These sartorial codes let me know what they are into, or gives a guess at what character traits they may possess. They also let me know about a common sense of humour or interest we might share. You can put something on without saying anything and someone may recognize a kinship with you immediately. I have met serious partners through solely what they wore. It may sound superficial to some, but I've known in the past that I had to get to know someone or that they had a twisted sense of humour just like me through their very particular patches or outfits they were sporting. I just knew they were someone I needed to know... that they were a freak like me.
What are you exploring through the motifs you create in your work and embroidery? Such as this one.
I wish I had a super intellectual answer to give about this sun motif. But it just came to me really organically when I went to a fabric store I had never gone to before one day. There was this particular green silk fabric there. It started making me feel dusty pink, gold and bright orange-red; it was just the most organic, honest experience I have ever felt before. The feeling this green silk gave me helped compose the parts of my first outfit from my final thesis collection last year, "The Many Muses". From this experience, I created a dusty pink linen car coat with gold reverse-appliquéd sun motifs and hand-embroidered rays made out of Chilean red wool. The green silk was turned into a pleated skirt. At the time, the colours reminded me of Matisse's goldfish painting... I was just tripping. I remember thinking that this will be the best outfit ever.
This particular outfit has touched so many people... more than anything I have ever made before. It really was the most honest and organic thing I've ever done. As someone who constantly overthinks and analyzes everything, I have never been able to reach or attain the same power that this particular combination of colours has garnered from people. People are even painting their nails with this exact motif over a year later!
Can you trace your interest in ornamentation back to any part of your past?
It was probably my mother's impact on me as an artist and creative person. Her love of colour and knowing that our home always had to be beautiful. Our home was always super personalized and she would change it every three weeks. It was always very stimulating--I would come home and she would just be painting a mural in the living room. I feel like I want to strive for that too. I love being surrounded by beauty and colour. I don't see a reason why not to be.
What is a staple part of your personal studio?
Well these are not my plants… they are the previous tenant's plants. *laughs* Just my collection of weird crap I guess. I haven't put all of it up yet. I have had that ice-cream bubble thing for like ten years. That is my form of meditation, blowing bubbles. All these familiar objects that I have had forever, I'll keep them with me forever and just put them around me. It's all pretty staple. I have all my embroidery threads here too. I got the bag from my mom and I keep my threads in there.
You are here in your new studio in Kensington market. What is it like to have a creative space that is also a shared space with other creative people?
It has brought me a lot of clarity and focus. It has brought both metaphorical and literal light into my life. It has made me realize that I am a creative person. That I should not be ashamed of my creative impulses and that I am supposed to be sitting down and making things. It's important. If you feel those impulses, you should most likely be sitting down, following them, and making things. It's a reminder that I am not crazy.
What do you think of the idea of "living alone together"?
I think there is great power in being alone and relishing in one's alone time. Learn to be alone. Also going to the movies by yourself is really sexy and cool. Everyone should do it. You should eat in restaurants by yourself too. I also have been to many music and comedy shows by myself. People are so scared to do that, but it's really cool. Everyone should be comfortable enough in themselves to do that.
What head space are you in?
A place of deep contemplation and excitement for the future. It's a very contradictory moment.
What do you think humanity could use more of?
"I never used to wear denim until these Levi's pants that I got to customize. Levi's asked me to customize a jacket and these pants for a photo shoot interview. I was so against wearing pants and jeans, then I did these and thought they were cool. I wear them all the time now."
Interview and photos by Alexis Venerus
To see more of Eloïse's work @la.fauve