The French vivacity and ability to create things of unique beauty is not a secret, nor, thankfully, is the work of designer Véronique Miljkovitch. Born in Paris, France, Miljkovitch grew up in Northern Ontario, but she was soon back in Europe to hone her skills in design. She returned to study in her hometown of Paris as well as Copenhagen, Denmark, where she attended the prestigious SAGA International Design Centre. Lucky for us, she returned to Canada and gained her technical training at Montreal’s famed Lasalle College and has since opened up her studio. She has won many national and international awards, including the SAGA Ethnic Light collection which was seen on runways across the globe. Her raw, textured designs that flow with the body are dynamic and compelling, making it easy to see why her pieces have chosen spots in women’s wardrobes all over.
When did you realize you wanted to be a fashion designer?
At the age of 12 I was screen printing my own t-shirts with the help of my grandmother. I was obsessed with skateboarding at the time so the t-shirts reflected the skateboard culture. Initially I was more interested in painting clothes than making them, but instead of using a regular canvas I liked to paint on clothes. I naturally started making clothes when I got bored of painting them. I did not realize that this was my calling however until my 20s, when I went back to school and realized I was pretty good at it.
Being that Paris is, well, Paris, did being born there have any effect on your decision to be a designer?
Not really, I think I was more influenced by my artistic grandmother, and later on by my circle of friends. It was in Paris though that I realized I wanted to do this so perhaps on some level the city did influence me.
Who is the Véronique Miljkovitch woman?
There are many. She is independent.
Who would you like to see wearing your designs?
Anyone who appreciates them.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
The key for me is ultimate comfort without looking like you are in workout clothes. I am very influenced by Japanese and Belgian designers because of their unconventional vision of what looks good.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Anywhere. Ideas just happen sometimes out of nowhere.
Why did you decide to set up shop in Canada?
It just happened that way. I was tired of Paris and needed a change so I moved to Montreal. One thing led to another, and here I am, ready to move again because nothing lasts forever!
What was it like to move from Europe to Northern Ontario?
I was only 2. For my parents it was a culture shock!
How did you make the decision to return to Europe to study; was it an easy one to make?
Of course! I was going to be on my own in Paris at the age of 17! It was exciting!
Denmark is famous for its beautiful Scandinavian design; is that why you chose to attend SAGA in Copenhagen?
No, although I do appreciate Scandinavian design. I was given an opportunity to study there with a scholarship, and the Saga Design Centre was a world class institution which many prominent designers had attended.
How was it different from studying in Paris?
I never really studied in Paris. Paris is where I discovered who I was going to be. To my parents dismay, Paris was more about fun and parties than studying. Denmark, on the other hand, was all about studying since we were actually boarding at the design centre. It was beautiful.
What is your favourite textile to work with?
I love natural easy care materials such as cotton and bamboo fleece and jerseys. I also love silk, but always work it in a casual way.
Are there any others you’re craving to work with in the future?
Not really. I love my independence. That is not to say I do not admire some people tremendously, but I like to learn from a distance and through my own experiences.
Any plans to move back to Europe?
No, but Panama is on the radar these days.
If you could talk with any designer, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Rei Kawabuko. She is just such an original!
Do you have a personal favourite piece from your current collection?
Yes, the Lana jacket is my favourite. It is so easy and cozy, and it can be worn in 3 different ways. It reminds me of a Rick Owens sweatshirt that I have worn to shreds.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Selling to over 100 retailers across the US and Canada, and being able to deliver all my orders without the help of any banks or backers.
Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?
Work on getting your designs out there. There is no use spending ridiculous amounts of money on fashion shows and marketing if people cannot find your clothes, or if you have no money left over to produce them. Also, always keep in mind who is going to wear your clothes. It seems obvious, but it is so easy to get carried away with your ideas and lose sight of what clothes are meant to be. Yes, they can be art but mostly they should be practical.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In a small studio storefront in Panama City.