Andy the great

One of the many perks of my job is chatting with super-talented designers and last week, I got the chance to talk to Montreal-based Andy Thê-Anh at the grand opening of his new boutique (83 Yorkville Ave., 416-921-2639, in Toronto’s tony Yorkville.

[See the Spring 2009 collection and view our video interview with Andy Thê-Anh]

Before munching on scrumptious mini-burgers and sipping champagne with the likes of Kurt Browning, Michael King, Fritz Helder and the Phantoms and Zoomer mag’s Suzanne Boyd in the spacious shop, we did a mini tour of Andy’s wares, including his fabulous fall collection and gowns galore (the black floor-length gown we had our eyes one would make the most gorgeous wedding dress—just don’t tell our bf!), and discussed his fashionable future.

When did you decide to open a boutique in Toronto?
“We’ve been planning on having a store in Toronto for two years. We were looking for locations and because we wanted to be in this area, it was a long waiting list. We finally found something last year but between the paper work and contracts it took a year to finalize.”

How does it feel to be in Toronto? You have a lot of Toronto customers who would fly to Montreal to see you.
“I was grateful for that. I never thought that would happen to me. We have a lot of customers from Toronto that travel for business or pleasure and discover our collection in our own store and they just keep buying it. And now that I can serve them here, directly, we’ll save on UPS and FedEx. [Laughs]”

What was your inspiration for fall 2008? I know you choose to use quality fabrics without having a high price point.
“The idea behind the collection is I have friends who come out of university who are lawyers, accountants, they work in magazines, and they said: ‘We want to be fashionable, but we don’t have the budget to buy Prada and we don’t want to shop at H&M.’ So I thought, this is my market. This is my market for now. You never know. My dream is to do a couture collection one day.”

Do you have more fun doing ready-to-wear clothing or doing the red carpet gowns? Or are they both different?
“I have fun designing anything when I don’t have to think about being commercial. That is the tougher thing to do, to sit there and design clothes that suit everyone and think about what’s sellable. If one day I have the budget to do whatever I want, that would be great.”

Any plans to expand to other Canadian cities?
“We plan to have at least five stores across Canada. Let’s see how the Toronto store is doing. The next city would be Vancouver. I don’t know when yet, but that is the plan.”

You just finished Spring 2009 fashion weeks, what is inspiring you for Fall 2009?
“I started working on Fall ’09 before spring was finished. I want it to be very professional, so next season I’m trying to step it up a notch and do something else, something completely different.”

How excited were you about doing your own jewellery line? And how did that come about?
“I loved it! Nowadays, we’re coming back to minimalism, we want to dress more simply and to spice up an outfit or an evening, you just add jewellery. It’s funny because jewellery is not fashionable at all. It’s always there and always timeless. If you have a beautiful brooch, you can put it on anytime and if you have a beautiful necklace you’re just throwing it on with a black dress and you look fabulous. So that’s what is timeless and what I tried to do.”

Was there a conscious effort to do a line with varied pricing?
“Yes it was, because again, there’s no use for me to create a $5,000 necklace and have it just sit there. Those are beautiful, but not everyone can buy it, right? There are people who can buy it, but I’m sure they’d rather buy Chanel.”

You debuted the jewellery line at L’Oréal Fashion Week. Was that to help announce the opening of the store?
“Yes of course. Toronto Fashion Week for me has always been a big promotional tool. They’ve been very helpful for me from the beginning. The Toronto media always supports me. I see them every season; they come back for it. And you know, nowadays, a collection, a song, a movie, it’s all about promotion—you don’t go anywhere without it.”

Are you going to have to relocate now that you have a store in Toronto?
“Half of my family lives here, so I always have a couch somewhere.”

Photography by George Pimentel/

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