With her own signature collection and two successful plus-sized lines, you would think
Project Runway Canada alum Jessica Biffi would have her fashion fill; but, the Toronto-based designer shows no signs of slowing down with the launch of her first-ever jewellery line, Covet. ELLECanada.com’s Meghan Yuri sits down with the bubbly designer at a recent launch party held at the newly renovated (read: newly cool) Brassaii restaurant in Toronto to talk burlesque beauty, affordable fashion and why Lady Gaga is her celeb go-to girl.
Why did you decide to launch into the accessories arena?
Accessories are such a huge part of my own personal style. I took an accessories course in school as an elective and always kept that knowledge in my back pocket; I knew that, one day, I was going to do this. Plus, I have a major love for all-things gold.
Who or what inspired your designs?
I’m really inspired by my own lifestyle. Bigger
accessories are always better. You know, the whole go big or go home mantra (laughs). Beyond that, I find nature, its, well, naturalness, really beautiful. That’s why, on some of the pieces, the look isn’t so polished as it is rough and elemental. When I went supply shopping, I bought a whole bunch of gold and copper and just played around with it to see what I could come up with.
Without question, you design for a confident woman who isn’t afraid of her own sexuality.
Definitely. I want women to feel comfortable in my clothes, in their own skin, and this translates to my jewellery pieces as well. I envisioned some of the gold necklaces to be worn on the back with a low shirt. Every piece has dangly bits that lead your eye from the face, down to the décolleté.
Do you find designing jewellery more challenging than designing clothes?
I think I play around more with it. I’m very creative with both aspects. I like to do things that are not conventional, like with Covet I’m channeling nature’s forests and the 1950’s. Clearly, I’m kind of all over the place but I think it’s because my style has a duality to it. I’m very tailored but very feminine and flowy as well.
If you could design something for any celebrity out there, who would it be?
I’m going through a serious obsession with Lady Gaga. She doesn’t care, she does what she wants and she takes obvious risks with her fashion. I would absolutely love to dress her.
Do you have fond memories of your experience on the second season of Project Runway Canada?
Without question, it was the biggest challenge I took to further my career. What is most funny to me is that when I showcased my designs, only my friends would show up to the party; now it’s industry, too. I would never have been able to launch my two plus-sized collections (for Addition Elle and Penningtons) if it weren’t for the show.
What does the future hold for Jessica? Find out on the next page …
What can we expect from you in the next 5 years?
Definitely going to work on a men’s line. Some of my friends with children are all about “Baby Biffi.” I would really love to do more capsule collections with retailers, because its been a great experience. I would like to see my designs in a lot of stores across Canada, hopefully in the States as well. Really build the e-commerce site, you know, all that grown-up talk. But most importantly, have a really established women’s line.
If you weren’t designing, what would you be doing?
I would probably be an artist in some way. I would love to paint. Maybe get into acting.
Your best piece of fashion advice would be…?
Take chances. It sounds cliché and everyone says it, but it actually works out. The more chances you take, the more that comes to you. At the end of the day, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Covet will be available at jessicabiffi.com (Price points: $35-$75.00).
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