Once upon a time, there was a designer named Ravi. This is the story of the day I tagged along on a guerilla-style photo shoot in downtown Edmonton, where the models had their hair and makeup done on park benches, and changed in cars & behind dumpsters all in the name of fashion, and great fun was had by all.
s: Hi Ravi!
r: Hi :-)
s: Tell me a little about your background and how you decided to pursue fashion design as a career. Did you go to fashion school?
r: Well, I was born in Edmonton. Mill Woods actually. I learned to sew by watching my mom. I started doing my own creative projects around age 14 by taking existing clothing apart to repair and alter it, adding zippers and trim and what-not. I never went to fashion school. My training has been completely "self inflicted” and I’ve been learning as I go.
s: When did you start your line DrailD? And how did you come up with the name? Does it have some special meaning?
r: I started the brand 3 years ago, I always used to just fix clothes for my friends and they all told me I should start my own clothing line, so I did! As far as the name, I wanted to reflect me and I didn't like the thought of using the name "Ravi Gill”. So I took the "RA" from ravi, and the "IL" from gill and got "rail" which I thought sounded too ‘gutter-ish’, so thinking about the edgy style of clothing I liked to design I came up with DrailD. I thought it sounded like a brand that was a bit off the beaten path of mainstream fashion.
s: Your line is a little more on the “wearable art” side of the fashion spectrum than on the “soccer mom” side. Where does your inspiration come from?
r: My inspiration comes from everywhere. A better question would be “where does my inspiration NOT come from" haha! The inspiration for the dress I submitted to the Phabrikated contest, for example, came from the fact that I happened to glance up from a bunch of glitter i had left over from a project, and saw a black bird outside the window. And a piece of shattered metal I saw lying on the ground inspired my metal corset.
s: If you could live anywhere in the world...
r: I think most designers would say Paris, but I would rather live somewhere more exotic. Less European. Like China, or India. There are so many different forms of inspiration in places like that. From the countryside to the enormous cities, in China especially. Things there are just so much more dense, and done on so much more of a massive scale that what we have here in Canada. And I LOVE eastern colours and patterns. That Dior origami collection from a few seasons back had a huge impact on me. I went from producing relatively simple designs to experimenting with shape and structure.
s: Could you give us a little bit of an idea of what to expect from your next collection?
r: Well actually, I have two in the works! I’m calling one “The White Collection”. It’s couture to the max, and is inspired by Galliano, MCqueen, Balmain and Givenchy, but with elements of streetwear to make it wearable. The second collection is inspired by Egypt and the house of Dior. Galliano's Dior.
s: Where do you hope to take DrailD over the next few years?
r: I want to grow of course! And for me, that means leaving Edmonton. The market for a brand like mine just doesn’t exist here. I plan to continue to grow the womenswear line, start to introduce menswear, and, because this is the best idea ever, launch a line of gorgeous, couture stuffed animals. I have two great collections in the works that I am hugely proud of, so hopefully those take off.
s: When and where will you be showing your latest collection?
r: I won’t be showing anything this season. I have way too much on my plate to make it happen in time. Hopefully next season! And I would like to start showing at other fashion weeks in the near future: Vancouver, Montreal and, fingers crossed, one day, Toronto!
s: I know there’s not really a whole lot of “wearable art” boutiques around here, (or even just in general) but are you currently selling in any stores? Is your work available online?
r: You’re right about the boutiques haha! My pieces are all available by contacting me directly through my website.
s: Do you have an official website/facebook page/twitter or instagram account we can follow you on?
s: What’s your opinion of Edmonton’s local fashion scene? Are there enough opportunities for designers to showcase their work? Or are you of the opinion that artists need to take on some of the responsibility of building their own platforms?
r: I find Edmonton’s fashion scene a bit lacking. There is really only one place to show your work, unless you want to take on the huge expense of producing your own show, and that’s at WCFW. I’m sure it’s different for every designer, but speaking from my own experience, most, if not all, of the work and projects I have done have been because I have gone out and got them for myself. They haven’t come because I have shown with WCFW. There are the various other, smaller shows that showcase designers at bars, magazine launches, charity events and so on, but I feel like Edmonton could really use events like Calgary’s PARKSALE. You get to showcase your designs without having to pay the major fees associated with showing at trade shows and other big fashion markets. So I think, as a whole, Edmonton’s fashion community could be doing more to grow and promote itself, but again, that’s just my opinion :-)
r: People are often surprised to discover what a laid-back, fun-loving guy I am. They are put off by my serious, down-to-business, fashion week “work face” I guess :-) Don’t be afraid to chat me up! I love to talk about my work!
s: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today Ravi! You’ve been a most obliging question-answerer, and so much fun to get to know! I will be holding my breath till you unveil your new collections. No pressure :-)
Shoot location: The 104th St pocket park
Hair: Ravi Gill
Makeup: Renee Rampersad
Photographer: Megan Simonson
To see the professional photos from the shoot, click HERE
Interview location: Remedy Cafe (Jasper Ave.)
Beverages consumed: Raspberry Kabucci and Remedy’s famous Chai
Were sunglasses worn at night and indoors because the sun was so bright and was shining right in our eyes: Yes