Interview with Designer April Peters of House Gallery Boutique
“I am fascinated with creating wearable art and collaborating with photographers, make up artists and models to share our vision of beauty to balance the mundane and suffering.”
April, where are you based and what is the history of the House Gallery Boutique?House Gallery Boutique is located in the heart of Kitsalino, Vancouver, BC Canada. The shop was established in 1987 by April Peters and Rama Prem. Rama a previous boutique owner and April with her Fashion Design experience fell in love and started the shop, together and has been successfully running for over 28 years now. Gala Marie their daughter is also an inspiring fashion designer and perhaps she will join the family business one day soon.
How would you describe your style? House Gallery’s main clientele is unique weddings, entertainers, film, TV, and theatre as well April makes custom garments for men, women and children for any shape or occasion.
What kind of feedback do you usually get on your collections? We share our photos mostly on facebook with a worldwide audience. Please check our House Gallery Boutique page on Facebook and see our lovely behind the scene photos as well as our Creation de Jour folders to see our latest garments as well as our happy customers and several photoshoots we have done over the years. The highlights are the shoots with Nina Pak and Nina Pak Art styled by Nina as Dreamloka . You can view several of our shoots together and fashion shows we have attended together.
Where does your inspiration come from? Nina Pak is my mentor and best friend and I feel I have done my best work with her which inspires me to want to make more garments for our collaborations together. Inspiration comes to me in many aspects in life from nature and color, dreams and fantasies, models, mentors and muses, but most of all fabric. I love fabric. I get a real sense for the garment after feeling the fabrics texture, weight and weave as well as fibre content dictate the ability to manipulate and sculpt to flatter the human form.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work? Right now I am fascinated with creating wearable art and collaborating with photographers, make up artists and models to share our vision of beauty to balance the mundane and suffering.
What do you want your viewers to take away from your works? I hope the viewers can take away an uplifted spirit and spark a dream or memory of a romantic and beautiful time with a sense of humour.
Tell us, how does an ordinary day at the House Gallery Boutique look like? There are no ordinary days at the House Gallery. Every day is an adventure and never dull or routine. I am an early riser and enjoy the many facets of my work. I can start the day with social media and sharing photos of behind the scene shoots, published works and creation de jour or works of art in progress. We also have a retail outlet and custom orders to complete as well as random customers dropping in to try on wedding and grad dresses as well as dresses for performance and special occasion so finding time to complete everything is always a challenge and I go to sleep with more on my mind and designing for future shoots. Our shoot days are epic. Sometimes it is 3 hours of hair, make up and prep then driving to an exotic location and several hours of shooting. We have shot in pools, up mountains and meadows as well as many locations around the neighborhood and heritage buildings.
What is the most common process of producing a piece of your design? For example, where does it start at? The design process starts with a dream or a fabric or a client. The fabric will determine with structure and silhouette and color also dictates the mood and overall feel. The shoots are collaborations and usually one of the team members will come up with a concept and I can build and make to suite the model or story board.
April, where would you like your career in fashion to lead you? What projects are you working on next? My career has been changing, as I am aging and looking forward to retire. Not completely retire, just retire from retail and still be able to make lovely frock for friends, family and special shoots.
April, what are some tips/advice you would give to yourself if you started designing all over again? Tips would be…love every minute of it. Life is too short to be miserable.
From your own experience, what are the biggest challenges in fashion design world? In your opinion, what is the key to the success in fashion world? Challenges are competing with the world market and mass production and global wages in China and India making manufacturing in North America very expensive and not so competitive. Work on refining your talent and offering something that others do not…like quality custom work with personal fittings and consultations with custom design as a consideration.
In your opinion, how important is it to be knowledgeable about fashion and the latest trends to be successful as a fashion designer? Latest trends have never been my concern as I am more inspired by history and trying to think outside the box rather than following the trends and trying to compete with the mass.
What’s the most important thing you want potential clients to know about you? For those that would like to consider working with you, what’s the best way to start? Potential clients or inspire others. It is to share to the world and let them do as they wish. Let their eyes see for themselves. We share many photos on facebook (House Gallery Boutique) and intragram as well as website (www.velvetandlace.com) and Sheeba magazine publication which we are grateful for.
What has been your most memorable moment in your career so far? Most memorable moment is hard to choose. I would say the several fashion shows, as well as epic photoshoots in exotic locations to see our customers return after 25 years to thank us for making their wedding day special and their kids are now getting married and they want to share with their child the experience they had at House Gallery…and seeing all the happy glowing faces of the people wearing their outfits on social media and especially any publication we are accepted into is the icing on the cake.
Who/what is your idol in fashion industry? Why? My idols are Karl Lagerfield and Iris Arpel , as they have both been designing for over 50 years and I only hope to go another 10 – 20 years and be as seasoned and successful as they are..
What do you think of eco-fashion? Eco…yes, yes, yes…I love to reuse, recycle and repurpose. I often use sari fabrics as well as bedding, table lines, curtains anything that can be creating into something new instead of going into the landfill. Definitely!
Tell us one thing about yourself people might find surprising. Surprising thing about me…is I am shy. I could never be a model because I am way to nervous in front of the camera but I do love to dress and feel empowered or camouflaged by clothing. I love the whole creative process of the fashion scene and everything and anything behind the scenes.