fashion magazine
Lights, Camera, Fashion!
By NATASHA BHATNGAR
Photography by FLORENCE LEUNG - www.flotography.ca
Styling - ALLEENEDA THAMMAVONG
Make-up - BREIANNE ZELLINSKY
Hair - ATEFEH SHOJAIE
Model - ALICIA DEMERSON @ NEXT Models
Assistant - JEREMY HSU
Styling Assistant - CHRISTA MEISTER
Accessories provided by Holly Boutique, Sienna Ray, Unconvential Jewerly
Location provided by The Loden Hotel
Mara Gottler is a woman who wears many hats. It's fair to say this Vancouver based designer has made her mark on the Canadian fashion stage, literally. Doubling as the costume designer for various theatrical productions (Quebec's Robert Lepage and Vancouver's very own Bard on the Beach) and as creative director of her own self titled demi-couture line, it's a wonder how one reaches this `stage.' Is it art imitating life or life imitating art? Was it the chicken or the egg? Gottler attributes an ebb and flow between the two as an organic outcome of her own experiences and background.

Born in Europe to a mother who specialized in tailoring, Gottler claims it was genetics that initially lit the fire for her love of clothing. "I'm afraid I was one of those designers that were actually designing clothes for her Barbie dolls. I was not only cutting them and sewing them up, I was drawing collections way back". Her story started somewhat backwards. She always carried that spark for clothing. However, it was shortly after taking a break from her doctoral degree in English language and literature that the theatre bug ignited. She was immediately hired by the Stratford Festival and went on to work for various theatre companies in both Montreal and Toronto before she came out to the west coast, including the National Ballet of Canada.

At an early age Gottler understood the importance of the silhouette and that has remained the common denominator when creating both fashion and theatrical pieces. However, both creative processes are quite different as they each have unique `audiences'. In describing these differences she goes on to say, "This is going to sound strange, but in fashion you're doing stuff with close up detail and in theatre you're doing it for the big effects for far away. Your embellishments have to be really small and precise in fashion whereas in theatre you can blow them up a bit more and it won't matter as much." It's quite the balancing act.

Gottler's collections undoubtedly reference historical periods. There is such crossover sometimes that she's even used elements from productions she's worked on and incorporated them into her line. "Awhile back I used a little vest top blouse that was based on a fencing jacket used in the production of Hamlet from Bard on the Beach". It came as no surprise when I asked Gottler who her major influences in the fashion world are: Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano. She adds, "All three of them take historical silhouettes and re-translate them into something crazy and modern. I think the commonality in what they do is what interests me".

As for what came first, theatre or fashion? "There's a back and forth kind of influence, sometimes theatre influences my fashion and sometimes fashion influences theatre". Her focus, however, has always been the silhouette and the materials. Each piece she creates tells a story both literally and figuratively. Each stage in her life has influenced the next. Her story, so unique and organic, transcribes the very essence of bringing about a feeling. "When I look at a piece of clothing, whether it is a fashion garment or a theatre costume, and it looks powerful or artistic and it suits the female body wearing it, I am satisfied that what I tried to express has been successful." "

To learn more about Mara Gottler and see her Fall/Winter 2010 collection visit maragottler.com.