Moose & Beaver designer Leah Antoinette not only has one of our favourite new names for her Toronto-based label, she’s one of the many edgy young creatives we have to thank for changing the face of Canadiana and making it universally cool. We caught up with the designer to find out more about her up-and-coming fashion line, her life in the arts, and her love of Canada…
Tell us a bit about yourself. What should people know?
I love to travel. It may be my gypsy Italian blood, but I am always looking for a new adventure that I can take inspiration from and bring home. For someone who designs under a decidedly Canadian name, I am completely contradictory about being Canadian. I absolutely love my country, but I am always so excited to go somewhere else and experience the new. So many outside sources inspire me; I don’t want to pigeonhole my line to be eponymous with being Canadian. I also love to read – anything and everything. I’ve probably read over 1,000 books since I’ve acquired the ability to read – it’s an addiction. I always have a book with me.
What are the biggest challenges and best rewards about what you do?
The fashion industry is insanely competitive and fast-paced which can be exhausting and completely life consuming. There’s so much going on, especially with this fashion blog boom that’s going on, you’re consistently being reviewed from all angles. You really have to stay strong and remember what your original goals were. After all of that, the best part of it is being able to walk down the street and see someone wearing your clothes or talk about how happy they are. Once my friend told me that wearing one of my snoods was like wearing a hug… It was probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me, because that’s what I set out to do: create something that is going to love you back.
What are three things you can’t live without?
Exceptional wine, exceptional friends, and adventure.
Finish this sentence: I love Toronto because…
…it’s an underrated city that’s a weird blend of two of my favourite places: San Francisco and New York… but it’s Canadian so it’s more polite.
What’s your favourite restaurant and why?
Another reason I love Toronto is that there are some really amazing restaurants, and it’s impossible to name my favourite but I’ll give you my top three: Buca – garlic knots and their polenta dish; Boehmer – Steak Frites and roasted beet salad; Mistura – beet risotto and wine list!
What’s one of your favourite go-to designers/brands or accessories lines and why do you sport their fashions?
Rag and Bone or J Brand for jeans… always, no exceptions. Every woman struggles to find her “brand.” These are mine and I’ve converted my mum too. Etoile by Isabel Marant – the pieces are just as beautiful as her runway collections, but a little more affordable.
*Bargain hunting is a genetic gift when you work in fashion… thank your mothers accordingly!
What products are always in your beauty/grooming bag?
My mother is a stickler for skincare so it’s something I won’t ever skimp on. I always go for a trifecta: cleanser, toner/serum, and moisturizer. I get a smaller size so I can have it with me most of the time. I have super sensitive skin that does not like our harsh winters so I really love Caudalie VinoSource Serum and Moisturizer.
What style trends are you obsessed with right now?
I am enjoying the full mini skirt with a cropped sweater. I am also really happy they brought back these men’s tailored overcoats. I have this love for Francoise Hardy and Jane Birkin. That whole ’60s British Mod is so simple and clean, plus they used beautiful sweaters. I’ve totally joined the cheetah print revival. It’s totally working for me!
What’s your favourite spa or service?
I absolutely adore the Miraj Hammam at the Shangri-La in Toronto. Of all the spas I’ve been to, this is my fave. Not only do they use my beloved Caudalie product line, the whole ambiance is really lovely. They have a crushed grape seed body scrub with a steam shower. It’s beyond glorious.
Let’s get social for a mo’. How can people stay up-to-date with your busy life?
My website is mooseandbeaver.com. It’s an online shop, so you have full access to all pieces from my Fall/Winter 2013 collection and my Spring/Summer 2014 collection. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (I use this the most… I love taking photos and you’ll get the quickest updates of collection progress and shenanigans I usually find myself in!).