MM: Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?
My name is Anelia Basson. I was born in South Africa, came to Canada in 1991 and soon became a Canadian citizen. Anelia-Art began in Chilliwack BC, but I see it's potential globally. The fabric becomes my canvas for creating wearable pieces of art. My garments have a simpler structure that create a flow while wearing them, so that you feel confident and comfortable. My goal is to help people find freedom in the colours of each unique piece of art.
MM: Can you describe your creative process?
I begin with the fabric pattern, allowing the moment to influence me. Whether it be my paintings, photography, or digital design, finding the difference that evokes emotion is always the most interesting pattern to me. I combine all three mediums, or free hand draw the pattern digitally to design the initial pattern, and then print it onto the fabrics. Freedom surrounds the core of the actual piece designs, recreating the sensations of my favourite locations in the sun.
MM: Where do you find inspiration in your day-to-day life?
To create, I must be challenged into a different mindset than the conscious mind follows day to day. Surrounding myself with multitudes of other (and my own) pieces of art throughout my house and garden gives me the freedom of creativity. I am a firm believer that nature is art; the beauty in the natural world is the main drive in my work. We are lucky to live in such a rich
area of the world here in British Columbia… My aim is to protect it, by reminding others to be more aware of the beauty around us.
MM: What kind of questions do you ask yourself when you begin creating a collection?
Creating a collection for me does not rely on the season or the fads of fashion, but instead, based on creating timeless pieces of art. It’s important that my collections stay true to my inspirations and strong creative feelings. Being aware of the state of our planet’s environment encompasses me while I create my collections. Major protection and rehabilitation is needed. The fashion industry can be quite harsh on the earth, so I really have to ask myself if my fabric is naturally sustainable, making as little impact as possible. Every human needs to be conscious of the impact we make; otherwise the future of our planet will look very grey…
MM: How has your work evolved since you began your own label?
Anelia-Art started a few years ago, beginning with pillows, tablecloths and reupholstering antique furniture with my designed fabric. After I received many favourable and inspiring comments about my designs, I then branched out to a limited amount of dresses. Since I have dogs at home, the dog jackets came out of simply wanting my pups to be warm and comfortable, to be safely seen at night, while also being fashionable! The swimwear was inevitable as the summer months came, and that was where my ideas wanted to bloom. Every season, I add new designs to Anelia-Art, with all new fabric patterns as well. To show off a collection of mine on the runway has been one of my biggest dreams, since I have always been so enamoured with fashion. There were a few local shows for Anelia-Art held in art galleries and on Hornby Island, but VFW will be the first
MM: How do you find working as a designer in Canada? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?
Having the opportunity to be a designer here in Canada is a privilege in itself - let alone the chance to show my work here with Vancouver Fashion Week! I am deeply connected to Canada, and that is visible through my work. Anelia-Art is all proudly made locally! Growing up in Africa has really shaped me as a person, and in particular, the connection to and respect for tribal cultures. Now living in the Fraser Valley for 25+ years, the indigenous culture reflects on a portion of my paintings and art designs. A few of my fabrics are representative of the beauty of indigenous culture, through each of those prints, a story to be told. The surroundings of Canada, and B.C specifically, inspire me to appreciate, and engulf myself in our world's natural beauty.
MM: What sparked your interest in fashion design?
Fashion has always played a huge role in my life. Wearing eye-catching, comfortable, colourful clothes is what makes me feel confident! There is a reason for the most beautiful plants and animals always having such vibrant tones and patterns! I decided to design my own patterns to reflect free flowing structure, vibrancy, and above all, comfort.
MM: How did you learn the business of fashion?
Being a self-taught artist and designer, I realised the best way to learn, was to throw myself in the deep end. When I moved to Canada in 1991, I started a children’s clothing line with two South African friends, called Ye-Bo, which introduced me to hand creating fabrics. Although my partners moved back to Africa and I began a family, I never gave up on my aspirations on being a fashion designer. Always surrounding myself with the business of art, I finally found my way back into my roots. From there, I think my abilities as an artist, particularly my strong sense of colour, has been my greatest asset in creating unique,
colourful fabrics that transform into statement pieces.
MM: What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?
Having the freedom of creativity is what drives me through this life. I love to form my own identity, accepting myself as I differ from others. What moves me to design is my passion for what I do, and the constant influences that inspire me - whether it be art, tribal culture, or beautiful places.
MM: What is the inspiration behind your S/S19 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?
This collection encompasses my journey so far… As I explore different parts of the world for its remarkable cultures, creatures, and surroundings! With each garment comes the expression of standing out with colour, yet still feeling free.
The swimwear collection particularly emulates the movements underneath the ocean… My journey into another world…
Thank you Anelia for telling us about your journey into fashion design. We can't wait to see your show at Vancouver Fashion Week for the SS19 season.