The Canadian Gothic Brand This Editor is Obsessed With
Handmade in Montreal, Ovate is Edgar Allan Poe meets art history major
Every day after a long and exhausting workday of writing about and looking at clothes, I come home to relax, unwind and…look at more clothes. Each night, I estimate that I spend hours poring over online shops, obsessively culling items for imaginary wishlists that sometimes transform into waking fever dreams. Some people choose to unwind with a glass of wine and Netflix, but I prefer frantically clicking “view all” and scanning hundreds images like some fashion-intelligent AI scouting my next purchase. Eventually, once an item has burrowed into my mind so completely, that heat of the obsession becomes so unbearable I am compelled to follow through with the purchase. If this sounds like a shallow way to experience life to you, I won’t disabuse you of that notion, but for some of us, the need to formulate identity via the protective shell we clad ourselves in every day is, simply put, a vocation.
One of the labels I keep returning to over, and over, and over again is Ovate, a gloomy, Montreal-based brand that makes clothing suitable for Edgar Allan Poe if he also happened to be a 22-year old art history grad student with a Tumblr account. I first found out about Ovate from one of the many aspirational goth girl accounts I follow on Instagram; in particular @OctaveKitten, a woman so hashtag-committed to the lifestyle, I’m pretty sure she got married at a haunted house during the full moon – in a custom Ovate wedding dress. After a few minutes of ravenous swiping through the Ovate website, I realized that the designer, Audrey Cantwell, used to run one of my favourite Etsy shops circa 2008, called Tarantula Sisters. This is the kind of thing that happens when you’re a) constantly seeking out brand-new items to covet and b) have been skulking around fashion-adjacent corners of the Internet since the early 2000s.
Anyways, I love Ovate because the designs are poetic and romantic and look like the kind of thing you’d wear if walking through a cemetery is your idea of a relaxing afternoon. Try on anything Ovate and you’re instantly a poet dying a premature death by candlelight in the 1700s.
As soon as I saw the Fiona dress, a demure black linen midi dress with buttons lining the bodice, I knew I had to have it. I meticulously saved up for months until my bank account finally allowed my all-consuming obsession to get the better of me. It was wildly expensive, but from the hazy light of my computer screen, I could tell that its combination of modest hemline, excessive buttons and gathered waistline was my platonic ideal of a dress. I also felt good knowing the money was going straight to a Canadian designer who sources fabric using sustainable means and handmakes every item from scratch. I’ve worn the dress often enough this winter that the cost-per-wear is dwindling down to almost nothing, if that’s a way you too tend to justify spending a lot of money on a piece of clothing.
The next items on my neverending wishlist are the Rae wool trousers, which look like something Patti Smith would’ve worn in her Just Kids days, and the Irina dress, which is basically the same dress I already have with the sleeves razed off.
Perhaps my feelings towards Ovate are best summed up by a quote from the Dark Lord Edgar Allan Poe himself: “We loved with a love that was more than love.”