Katina K: Fatalist, Catalyst, or A-list?

Career Focus
I grew up in a small town, where sticking out from the crowd was not the hottest place to be. I was far from the most popular girl, preferring glam rock attires to Vuarnet t-shirts, but I had a friend who was all a proper schoolgirl shouldn’t be: wild, free, exotic, and crazy. “Unique” couldn’t even start to describe her, and it’s still far-fetched today, when most people tend to fade away with modern life’s responsibilities. She studied at LaSalle College, intensifying her individuality, while most of us tried to conform to a socially acceptable education. She was our eccentric friend, the one who brought life to the party. Last time I saw her, she lived in a so-hip apartment right off Crescent street downtown, and she had the best connections you could dream of.

She was K@t, and she had lived. The extravagant fashion scene that is. Seven years later, she hasn’t changed. I love her to death, and I think you might too. Here’s a look at what a real fashion head is about:

MC: Why study fashion? What did you see yourself doing after LaSalle, when you enrolled?

KK: I was always very fond of playing dress-up (my mothers closet was my Pandora’s box!) I tried everything from draping myself in old curtains or bed sheets, using belts and elastics to keep everything in place, to pots and pans. I also made outfits for my Barbie with whatever I could find. Growing up, I couldn’t help but customize my wardrobe. Maybe it’s because my grandfather was a corset maker and my great uncle a tailor. I guess it ran in my blood. I just wish I was as good as them at pattern making because I’m a fabric freak, and I just adore colours. So yeah, studying fashion was a natural choice. After LaSalle I thought I’d be the next Jean-Paul Gauthier! Soon enough I realized that I needed a little more patience and a lot more knowledge! (laugh)

Angel Costume

MC: You have substantial experience with several designers, which would you say taught you the most about the industry and why?

KK: Without hesitation, Dominique Lemieux. She was my mentor. She taught me new ways to create, how to appreciate what’s out there, see fashion in everything: sculpture, pictures, music, runway masters, flowers, etc. Even how to mix it all up and give it new life. She taught me how to create a character, to give life to clothing. I also learnt the value of a team and the benefit of perseverance. Virtues that have served me well.

MC: Have you ever thought about branching out on your own, whether as designer or consultant?

KK: I can’t lie; in the Cinema, Theatre, Dance and Circus industries, it’s an ongoing process. It’s something I long for. I’d love to sign a collection. I’d love to dress “real people.” I believe that day will come. Everything in its right time.

Acrobat upside down

MC: Do you feel that the fashion industry is fiercer than any other?

KK: I don’t think it is. But the market in Montreal is getting smaller and smaller, and we have plenty of distribution houses to meet market demands, while most of the creative jobs are in TO or in some state abroad. It makes me sad, because Montreal has such an amazing niche of talent.

MC: If you had to work for any local designer, who would you pick?

KK: Can we do a top two? Because I’m torn between Renata Morales and Marisa Minicucci. I love Morales’ prints, the way she mixes texture. I’m also delighted by her playfulness. Yet, I love Marisa Minicucci’s tailored look. It’s very refined and noble. Her choice of fabric is always very rich. I’m sure she’d be a great teacher.

MC: What is your take on Montreal Fashion? What would you do to revive/vamp it up?

KK: LOUDER PLEASE! We need to know it’s out there! Unless you’re very acquainted with the fashion crowd or reading local fashion blogs, you probably don’t know it’s out there. Fashion is for the people! Montrealers are our most precious customers; they should know all there is to know about fashion instead of trusting big global corporations to dictate their wardrobes. And that’s why this site is so important. We have to get everyone more involved with the local scene. Let’s stop copying what’s done in New York or Paris or London, and let’s build on our own sense of style. Because we’re so much ahead of the traditional, safe trends. And we have beautiful women to back it up.

Kat at work

MC: I remember you making hats or accessories way back. Do you still do that?

KK: Of course I do. I’m currently working with a dance company in TO, creating their costumes (giant head pieces). I also had fun with accessories and bags last winter. I try to keep different projects on my table. It’s part of the research process, and it’s very stimulating! In a few weeks, I’ll be back in the wonderful world of movie making, so there won’t be much time left for anything else. Time to put on my comfy shoes and shop ‘til I drop!

MC: Famous last words?

KK: Just ask Cunningham! (in reference to New York Times’ on the street with Bill Cunningham.) I love him dearly! His fashion flair is just fabulous, his reportages are always very inspiring, and he is oh sooo funny!

To get in touch with Kat, e-mail her.

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