Jason Matlo's journey has taken him from the starving artist's life - painting, sculpture, coffee shops and Birkenstocks - to working 24/7 as a designer in his own fashion house. With three established lines making waves and the recently launched menswear collection gaining recognition, there is little free time to be found. How does he deal with the multitude of instant decisions to be made? "I go on pure gut instinct"
While success has proven those instincts to be on the mark, they're backed up by important input. Matlo comments, "The constant pressure is always there to exceed people's expectations. The industry is youth driven and I feel the pressure every day to keep it fresh. That's why I bring in people to work with me who are in their 20's. I'm constantly asking them, 'What do you think of this? What music are you listening to?'" Talking with clients also adds to the picture - do they like the design, what do they think of the colour, would they wear it - as well reactions from respected industry professionals who have the pulse of the international fashion scene such as Leila Bani, Luisa Rino and Deanna Palkowski.
Ready-To-Wear - a selection of separates as well as day dresses for the office - is Matlo's favourite. "It has the most breadth in terms of pieces and the price point is high enough you can incorporate strong design details." Babe offers Matlo style at a more affordable cost The popular line has evolved into a collection of cocktail and evening dresses which offer a unique challenge. "To make them come out at a good price point, you have to be really clever in terms of fabric and construction." Bridal actually developed by request. "It happened after we did Gabrielle Miller's wedding. There was a lot of press and brides started calling." This line offers the designer an opportunity to work with couture techniques. Menswear, newly launched in Fall 2011, proved a surprise. "It was harder than we thought. We had to determine what the Jason Matlo man was going to be and create new blocks. I wanted the line to be very wearer friendly - that's why it's all black - and include garments that could be worn every day."
When talking about the Fall 2011 Ready-to-Wear line, Matlo becomes particularly animated. "[This] collection comes the closest to my personal design aesthetic. It has been evolving for several years in terms of the brand, but I felt this line was just more streamlined." While the look and palette are minimalist, the clean styles are combined with complex construction techniques. That simple black dress is cut on the bias. One has no shoulder seams, but beautifully incorporates difficult underarm gussets. Darts flow into bucket pockets and "shattered fabric" is created by sewing on torn fabric strips. Style elements are added with leather-look leggings and hand knit wool scarves that are "a mile long."
Looking ahead, Spring 2012 takes a departure from the current minimalist palette with an explosion of colour, but will still showcase the same strong technical elements. Innovative designs, luxurious fabrics, interesting textures and a meticulous attention to detail all insure Jason Matlo will continue to enjoy a loyal following as well as exert an ever increasing influence on the fashion scene in coming seasons.
In Vancouver, look for Jason Matlo at WearElse, DuJour, Ishara and in the fall at Chrome Yellow. The bridal collection can be found at La Novia Bridal. For menswear or custom work, please go to www.jasonmatlo.com.