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Q&A: Hayley Elsaesser, the city’s buzziest new designer

Q&A: Hayley Elsaesser, the city's buzziest new designer
Unisex bowling ball snap denim coat, $315. Handsy socks, $16. Faux snakeskin snap coat, $315. Unisex toilet long-sleeve tee, $90. Unisex scissor denim jeans, $250. Photograph courtesy of Hayley Elsaesser

Hayley Elsaesser’s apparel is dizzyingly eye-catching. She opened her eponymous Queen West flagship in 2015 and has since become a celebrity style favourite (most recently designing a custom outfit for new Voice host Miley Cyrus). We spoke with the rising fashion star

Can you describe your signature aesthetic in three words? Bold, colourful and busy.

Right—there’d be no other way to describe a fire-engine-red jacket printed with cowboy hat–wearing eight balls. What are the main themes of your collection this season? It’s called Gutter Ball and it was inspired by The Big Lebowski, but a really cartoonish version.

Do you bowl? I’m actually pretty horrible, but it’s a fun thing to do with friends. There’s this place in Mississauga called Classic Bowl, which is the biggest bowling alley in Canada. It’s where we shot the lookbook.

Hayley Elsaesser
Hayley Elsaesser

Your clothes are always cheeky, bordering on audacious. How would you respond to someone who said, “I can’t wear that!”? Give it a try! Nine times out of 10 the people who are afraid to try stuff on end up buying something. It really speaks to the transformative power clothing can have, and how it can make you beautiful. Life is too short to be afraid to wear what you really want!

Alessia Cara sports your designs often, most recently at the MMVAs. How does it feel to see your clothing on celebrities? It’s amazing. Although it’s just as great when I see a regular Toronto girl or guy wearing my stuff. These are people who choose to spend their money on my creations.

Who is your perfect client? Much host Liz Trinnear often wears my stuff—it really matches her personality. But even if you’re a bit more reserved, when you wear a dress that has colourful snakes or skulls on it, you’re ready to have fun.

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