The #TeaserAlerts continue! Puces POP will return with another explosive edition during the festival and we are impatient to share some of the fair's participants. Meet the women behind Atelier Aleur and Cucamanga, two local creatives who invite you to step inside their world.
What part of British fashion do you wish you saw more of in Montreal?
British tailoring and simplicity are essential influences in my designs, and are what I wish I saw more of in Montreal. From the chic patterned pantsuit, to the edgy low-waist skinny jean, women in Chelsea know how to dress every inch of their body. The precision I saw from British designers was inspiring, but to be honest any glimpse of Alexa Chung, and I could sketch my next collection.
What is your ideal piece of clothing that you would wear every single day if you needed to?
If I had to wear one piece of clothing every day, it would be the 'Porridge Jumper' I make for Aleur. I called it 'Porridge' to emphasize the feeling of warmth and absolute satisfaction.
What is it about your studio that inspires you when you are creating?
The first studio I ever had was in South London with my musician boyfriend, David from Dems. It was the coolest atmosphere that allowed me to design, cut and sew with beautiful atmospheric music being played in the background! Now in Montreal I sew alongside 4 extremely talented local designers. Their talent and drive are very inspiring to me as their variation in fabric and style helps me to learn something new every day. Being around other creatives also helps me to learn about the different types of roles in fashion that are out there, especially in Montreal.
How did you first fall in love with doing what you do?
I first fell in love with plants and the forest. I love listening to plants; they have so much wisdom, and the fact that what I do allows me to be in the forest is awesome. The sweet aromatic smell of all that is living and blended into the air - nothing is more euphoric to me than being in nature. As nature is a place where complete stillness exists, and yet in that stillness there is so much creation. Within each step of the process of creating Cucamanga products there is this love that is being transported from each botanical to each recipe. To fall in love with what I am doing is different to how I began. I began almost out of force, I was tired of synthetic products and I wanted to make my own so that I could eliminate the allergies I had developed. I believe the love came from sharing. I love to share my products because I love learning that the same products that I have formulated for myself are doing wonders for others as well.
What is your favorite ingredient/botanical to work with and why?
The boreal forest floor is flush with Labrador Tea and just so happens to be the plant I first connected with. It is what inspired me to create my Boreal Forest Line. My first memory with this botanical was 10 years ago when I first started tree planting in the Ogoki region of northern Ontario. Every time I bent over to plant a tree I could smell this incredible aroma swirl past me and I would try to follow it to find out its source. The moment I found it was the moment my love affair with Labrador Tea began.
Working with Cucamanga I use Labrador tea primarily topically in the ‘For Her: Luxury Face Oil, Antioxidant Face Balm, Labrador Tea Soap, and the Forest Floor Bath Botanicals. It is high in antioxidants, which aids in removing toxins from the skin & soothing inflamed, irritated, cracked, itchy and burnt skin.
Can you tell us more about the process you go through each summer i.e. leaving Montreal to cook for tree planters while harvesting ingredients to make your products?
I generally leave Montreal in April and start driving west with my partner, my dog, and our car packed with our tent, clothes, etc. Our tent becomes our home until our usual return in August. The process of packing and unpacking are the most difficult, but after so many years it’s actually pretty easy. Life is easy. Your house is your tent, and our tent is about 30 square feet, plus another tent, which is generally used as a space for me to dry the botanicals I have harvested. Camp locations can be as short as 1 week and as long as 4 weeks (we move camps several times in the season), so depending on how long we’ve been settled is how much plant material will be hanging in and around our outside home. I’m happy to have such a supporting partner that doesn’t get bothered by me peeling the inner bark of plants with a head lamp at 11pm while he sleeps, or the bunches of horsetail he knocks with his head as he exits the tent.
Harvesting out there becomes super easy as the plants grow abundantly. (When we think about living sustainably, and in this case, harvesting sustainably, it would mean not over harvesting from plants that struggle to reproduce.) For instance, you really wanna eat some Saskatoon berries? Bake a wild raspberry pie? Just walk outside your tent and there they are! It’s quite wonderful. To me, this is just a time period in the year where I am living in this limitless forest. This forest which holds space for abundance. There are many plants that populate our boreal forest, and they are, conveniently, ones I really enjoy working with.
Cooking for tree planters is one of the hardest jobs I’ve had, besides from planting trees itself. You’re the first to wake up and the last to go to bed. I use my nap breaks to harvest and to give life to my soul. As the season comes to a wrap we’re usually pretty excited to head home to this wonderful city of Montreal.
My vision for Cucamanga would be to transport you from your apartment in a concrete jungle into the depths of the forest for a moment, while supplementing your skin with natural, wild nutrition.