Phtoos by Steve Alkok/Arthur Mola Photography
Calla Haynes belongs to a tribe of digital print masters (Erdem, Mary Katrantzou) who’ve become known for their artful manipulation of images, colors and patterns. The Toronto-born, Paris-based designer studied at Parsons before jetting off to France to take part in the school’s study-abroad program. At the end of the year, she landed an internship at Rochas under Olivier Theyskens and decided to remain in the city indefinitely. Since then, she’s worked with Theyskens again at Nina Ricci and designed prints for Jeremy Laing, Alexander Wang and Erin Fetherston, among others. Her own work for her label, CALLA, has twice earned her nominations for an ANDAM award, in 2010 and 2011. This week, Calla Haynes returned to Toronto to showcase her collection, alongside other Canadian expats, Todd Lynn, Thomas Tait and Jean-Pierre Braganza in a two-day event called The ShOws.
Haynes has earned a reputation for her fanciful but also feminine prints with Impressionist-style dreamscapes. “There are definitely really romantic elements in my collection,” she says. “I’m playing with this idea of feminine Parisian couture and tomboy and trying to find a balance between both.” She also likes referencing the same shapes and silhouettes in her collections. “Items like a men’s shirt reinvented into something more feminine, the boyfriend jacket and the skinny jean—these are things I turn to automatically every season.”
In the past, the designer has cited French artist Niki de Saint Phalle and Mexican actress Maria Felix as her muses. “My muse is always a creative woman. She usually changes jobs every season. Last winter, she was an abstract painter. Sometimes I use people to give the collection a little more attitude, which is something I don’t have all the time. Like Maria Felix, for example.”
Haynes’s spring 2012 collection was inspired by summer music festivals—but not of the Coachella or Bonnaroo street style variety. “The inspiration isn’t in the literal sense of what a girl would wear at the festival,” says Haynes. “When you’re at a music festival and you’re listening to amazing music, you close your eyes and it’s hot and humid. I was trying to translate that feeling into print with all the colours and all the abstract, grainy textures.”
Her offerings—a summery confection of pretty pieces—conjured up gentle breezes, sunny skies, and flowers in full bloom. Tart, lemony colors were mixed in with muted prints and the models—this time around, as a music journalist, musician, or the girlfriend of a musician—floated down the runway in frocks, wispy skirts and tailored separates. With teased tresses, bright pouts, and pastel-coloured sunglasses, they had a bit of a Lolita quality about them, grown up but not quite, with a youthful mirth and mischief.