Last week I was kicking around twitter looking for Calgary fashion designers and I came across Lara’s profile. I followed her and we exchanged a few messages regarding her work and my photography. It wasn’t long before the idea to have her on this blog entered my mind. I told her about the project as best I could in 140 characters and she liked the idea and agreed to participate.
I met Lara at her studio downtown the following day. She’s got a great spot in an old row of buildings in a rather central location. When I arrived we hung out and chatted for a bit about Calgary and a few other random things. The conversation was easy and natural, so much in fact I had to interrupt the conversation to get the interview going before I had all the answers to my questions before I had the chance to ask them. Here is what she had to say.
1. Where are you from ?
I am from a lot of places haha.
2. What would you concider your home ? Is Calgary home ?
I’ve spent the most time in Calgary than any where else that I have lived.
3. Where else have you lived ?
Well I was born in Saskatchuwan, but I grew up in Calgary and then since I’ve lived in Pakistan, Boston, Milan and I studied in Paris for a little while.
Rob: Nice! So your well traveled.
Lara: I like to travel, ya.
4. So Pakistan, how did you end up in Pakistan from Calgary ?
It was with my family when I was in high school. My father took a job with CITA, the Canadian International Development Agency. So our whole family moved, it was supposed to be for a year and then we were evacuated due to the Gulf War.
Rob: WHAT! “Evacuated”!?
Lara: Ya, but it was good. It was when I was 17 and I think that’s such a pivotal time in life to do something so. . . crazy.
Lara: It was like, you know they talk about those moments which change your life? Like that was just, I don’t know, just flipped the switch of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it.
Rob: That’s crazy! Really cool.
5. Then you were off to Boston ? How did you end up there and what were you doing in Boston ?
I went to school in Boston and I studied architecture there. I was there for a total of 10 years. I just wanted to stay and pay off all my student loans while I was in the US and get my architect licence, because you know everything in the US is in feet and inches and if I took the test there it was in feet an inches, where as if I took it in Canada it was in metric. I know the metric system, but designing buildings in metric is very different as in imperial. So ya, I spent 10 years there.
6. You go there (Boston), then you do some more studying in Milan and Paris, so why did you move back to Calgary ?
Well I was gone for about a dozen years and I think you just reach the point where you just can’t rent anymore apartments, lease anymore cars and have temporary work visas and I just really wanted to come back to Canada. I wasn’t sure where in Canada, but I was ready to come back. I think you gain so much perspective and such a greater appreciation for your country when you spend so much time from the outside looking in.
7. I probably should have mentioned this earlier, your a fashion designer, how did you get into that ?
It was something that I always wanted to do and growing up in Calgary becoming a fashion designer seemed really unattainable, it seemed impractical and there really wasn’t anybody here to act as a mentor. So I thought I would be practical and just become and architect, because I was interested in both. So after practicing architecture in Boston for 10 years I kind of reached a pivital point where I thought, “I don’t think I like this anymore, I want to try something else,” and I wanted to try fashion and just either do it or not do it and kind of put it to bed. So I took a one year spabatical from architecture to study fashion and it felt really good. So I came back to Canada and launched my own line and continued to practice architecture and now I kind of do them both at the same time.
8. So back to Calgary, what is it about Calgary that you like?
(laughter) That’s a hard question. I think the one thing I really enjoy about this city is the potential. I mean how often do you live in a city with a critical mass of over a million people where the design market isn’t fully saturated. So I think up until this time it’s been really frustrating that everything has just been kind of mediocre, but now that we have so many people from different countries and from different parts of Canada, the expectations of what good design should be, or a good restaurant or good fashion is so elevated that’s its opened the doors for so many people like my self to really grow and expand and experiment.
9. What do you like to do for fun?
Haha I don’t have any extra time for fun. (laughter) No, in the summer I like to ride my bicycle, I like to be outside. We were just talking about winter, in winter I hibernate, I’m not much into winter sports. Ya probably just kind of be outside and enjoy nature.
10. If you had to describe Calgary to some one, what would you say?
Oh that’s a really hard. (pause) I don’t even know. . . (pause). I have no idea.
Rob: No idea! ?
Lara: I don’t know it’s like what I was saying earlier. It’s always just kind of been this very business focused city and now it’s kind of exploding with people wanting to put greater value on experiencing culture. The culture here has exploded recently too and again it all comes back to enjoying life, I think. The City is for example, has re-done a lot of the paths and implemented all of these bike lanes and 10 years ago no one would have ridden, other than couriers no one would have ridden a bicycle in downtown Calgary. So it’s nice to see it (Calgary) kind of growing up into a bigger city.
11. How can people find your work ?
Well they can come by the studio. That’s one way. We have a beautiful store front right on the street. A lot of the time people stop and peer in while we are working and wonder what we are doing. But also I have a website for both architecture and fashion, so people can find me online. (www.LaraPresber.com & www.StudioPresber.com)
Rob: And I know you’re on twitter, because that’s how I found you.
Lara: Yes I’m on twitter and facebook.
Rob: So where can people find you on twitter ?
12. Ok great, so that’s about it. Have you ever ridden a horse?
Yes I have.
13. Anything you’d like to add?
Rob: Alright that’s it.
Lara: Come on, everyones ridden a horse in Alberta.
Rob: I have NOT ridden a horse.
Lara: Well you have only been here for a year and half.
– Thank you for taking the time to talk to me Lara, it was fun! 🙂