« Bianca’s collection could have been renamed Debbie at the beach, I thought, because when you look at it, you feel like going out on an adventure like the ones you read about in those children’s tales. »
A refreshing juvenile femininity emanates from Blanc sur blanc, a portrait that befits creator Bianca C. Charneau, a pretty brunette with a carefully groomed pixie haircut. C. Charneau’s collection goes beyond the lightness of fabrics to expose sensitivity on a white canvas. Inspired by Kasimir Malevich’s White on White, Bianca’s work uses Suprematist compositions of geometric forms in shades of white.
Baron: How did you get into fashion?
Bianca C. Charneau: When I finished high school, I didn’t know where to go, so I ended up studying arts in cégep. Afterwards, it just occurred to me that I should earn a degree in fashion. Following that thought, I obtained an AEC at Brossard’s Académie de la mode et du design. As soon as I began learning fashion design, I wanted to go further, and the classes offered in college seemed quite stimulating. I was one of the few, at the Academy, who wanted to go to college.
B.: Why choose fashion?
B. C. C.: It’s hard to explain… I really enjoyed my schooling in arts in cégep but on the other hand, art is so vague and abstract… I felt like it was time for me to work on something concrete. Fashion was the answer. I see fashion as an art form where creativity is contained and structure in a useful way.
B.: What inspired Blanc sur blanc?
B. C. C.: Kasimir Malevich’s White on White, essentially. Throughout my years of studies, I’ve always cultivated a fascination for white. I delved into Malevich’s work, which is still quite controversial nowadays. I’ve done many more research and came up with a multitude of concepts, but I always came back to White on White. This painting depicts more than a white square on a white background: it exposes the artist’s entire reflection on his creative process.
B.: Besides the color white, how does White on White’s influence manifest itself in your collection?
B. C. C.: There are squares everywhere: as cuts, as silhouettes or as patterns. I also work with different shades of white, mixing them through fabrics, materials and textures. I’ve also used overlapping in order to give the impression of a square inside a frame (as seen in the painting). With diagonal cuts, I try to give certain dynamism to the garments.
B.: Do you feel like Blanc sur blanc is true to your style? How would you describe it?
B. C. C.: I can’t crystallize my style in a definition. I feel like I’m always thinking about what defines who I am and what I do but it keeps changing. I’m very eclectic and my interests are many. Which is why I don’t believe I have a given style. I’ve done Blanc sur blanc, but I could create its complete opposite and still feel good about it. While making this collection, though, I think I tried to bring out something delicate out of the square’s strength and structure.
B.: What is your opinion on fashion trends?
B. C. C.: I don’t believe I’ve ever been following or paying them any attention at all. What motivates an artist or creator comes from the inside. It’s something you feel and that doesn’t necessary relate to the flavor of the month. The mainstream concepts do inspire me somehow and, through that impression, enable me to create.
B.: Where did you do your internship?
B. C. C.: At Jean Paul Knott. I never expected to leave the country! This was such an incredible experience… I got to discover the European way of life, Belgium and Brussels, which I knew little to nothing about. People are less stressed than here and it gave me the chance to witness an alternative to the industry’s fast fashion aspect.
B.: Looking back on your time abroad, how do you see one’s career as a designer in Montreal?
B. C. C.: A lot of designers are trying to make it in Montreal these days. I see this as a positive challenge. I do want to get a reputation and start my own business. If I give it my all, it can only work out in the end. I have a good feeling about what’s going to happen. When I was still studying, I caught a glimpse of what it was like to run a small fashion business in Montreal, while doing an internship at Valérie Dumaine. It’s really hard but I feel like I’m up to the task. This is a dream that I’ve been holding onto for quite some time now. I remember that, when I was still in high school, I wrote in my yearbook that I would someday have my own clothing line. I guess it always stayed with me.
Discover Bianca C. Charneau’s Blanc sur blanc on April 29th, as part of the collective fashion show of UQÀM’s Fashion management - design and styling graduates, at the university’s Design Center’s gallery.