Dianne St. Jean

Designer uses plant materials to colour her creations

Josie Robinson, set to launch a career in fashion design.
Josie Robinson, set to launch a career in fashion design.
Tatiana Tomljanovic photo
Emerging BC fashion designer Josie Robinson is set to showcase her fashion collection, Eterna, at BC’s largest student design week at the new Wilson School of Design in Richmond, BC on April 19.

Robinson claims roots in the Robson Valley, having spent her childhood in McBride, from 1993-2001.

“I feel happy to have the childhood I did there,” she says. “I had a lot of freedom to play outside with other kids and just be curious. I feel this gave me my tactile creativity. It also equipped me to be a lifelong learner, through constant experimentation.”

She says that she was also surrounded by people who were creative in their own ways and could make something great out of something humble.

“My mom kept a garden and used to pickle and preserve things with my grandparents and neighbours. I remember my dad used to make his own fly’s for fishing, and I always thought they were so strange and beautiful. My step mom was quite the tinkerer and handy woman and always had a home décor project on the go.

“My grandparents Bob and Hazel Balcaen live in McBride. My grandmother has passed much of her knowledge of sewing and resiliency on to me. My grandfather has passed his humour and entrepreneurial mindset on to me.”

Robinson says that much of her inspiration for design also came when she studied abroad.

“When I was abroad, I looked at things like Portuguese tiles, French stained glass, and German masonry. I really loved the idea of creating something beautiful and complex out of simple geometric shapes.”

She adds that she also explored traditional Japanese Shibori.

“Shibori started in the households of common people as a way to repair and add beauty to modest clothing,” she explains. “You don’t have to have luxurious means or materials to create good art.”

What also makes Robinson’s work unique is that she only uses plant materials to dye her pieces, such as Indigo, Pomegranate, Turmeric and Madder.

Robinson describes her pieces as being part of a larger slow fashion movement.

“Slow fashion is the antithesis of the fast fashion that we see increasingly taking over the market,” she explains.

“Fast fashion is defined as mass produced, cheap clothing that encourages us to buy more than we need, more often than we need. Fast fashion has negative impacts on our planet and typically exploits those who make the clothes in the developing world.”

Robinson advises anyone who is wanting to pursue an artistic or creative career to “put yourself out there.”

“You have to get in touch with the right kinds of people that recognize your work and your potential,” she says. “They can help you find resources and connections.”

“No artist exists in isolation. A good artist arms themselves with a community. I implore anyone out there who has always wanted to make a living from their creative work to go for it and figure it out as you go along!”

To learn more about Robinson’s collection, Eterna, follow her on Instagram@eterna.textiles.

If you’re interested in attending the event, visit https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/2018-the-show-annual-grad-fashion-show-and-portfolio-viewing-tickets-42918881530.

By Dianne St. Jean
With information from Josie Robinson

Models Sierra Southard (left) and Sacha Scaepe (right) wearing some of Robinson’s designs. Make-up/hair by Emily Ngo.
Models Sierra Southard (left) and Sacha Scaepe (right) wearing some of Robinson’s designs. Make-up/hair by Emily Ngo.
Robynne Peatfield photo

Designs modeled by Sierra Southard
Designs modeled by Sierra Southard
Robynne Peatfield photo

Full view of design worn by model Sacha Scaepe.
Full view of design worn by model Sacha Scaepe.
Robynne Peatfield photo

Designs modeled by Sierra Southard.
Designs modeled by Sierra Southard.
Robynne Peatfield photo