Short interview to Christina Remenyi, founder of Canadian brand Fortnight Lingerie.
What made you start a lingerie and swimwear line?
Lingerie came first and swimwear felt like a natural progression. It was really driven by a frustration with the market at the time, that was dominated by big box brands who only offered a very narrow range of sizes and uninspiring vision of femininity. I was disappointed that a throwaway mentality was being applied to garments that are so intricate, personal and deeply personal. I wanted to create a line that was inclusive in sizing and in style, that women could relate to. I wanted to create a line that embraced the body (not hiding it with padding). Spreading the word about how to find the perfect fit and how much that can improve our moods, self esteem and overall comfort and health was and continues to be very important to me.
You are a woman designer, designing for women. How do you see fashion being a male domain where it’s mostly men designing for women?
History has definitely seen male domination in the corporate world. It’s a sad fact – and when it comes to fashion, some are very gifted at creating pieces that make women feel beautiful. But with more and more women at the front of fashion houses, there’s something unique and exciting about moving away from a male gaze and into something more distinctly feminine and fresh. It is a more attuned perspective on what we as women want – who we want to be and how we want to feel.
What do you see a male designer usually lacks when making clothes for women?
Speaking to lingerie specifically, I think men lack the ability to understand how a woman wants to feel under their clothes. I think they tend to use sex appeal as the main design vision, whereas women design with a unique sensibility for ‘beauty’, functionality and luxury. What’s beautiful to a woman is complex, layered, thoughtful. I think when it comes to undergarments, it takes a woman to understand that and create something that speaks to us.
What makes a garment sustainable? Can you tell me about the production of Fortnight… where is the material sourced, who makes it, where etc..
To me a garment is sustainable when it is made ethically, thoughtfully, with quality, good fit and endurance in mind. A garment is sustainable when it employs people in safe conditions with fair wages. When it’s materials, consumption and factory are chosen carefully. When it’s designed to be worn again and again until threadbare.
We’ve built our own production facility in Toronto, Canada. Because lingerie is such a detailed complex layer of clothing to make, we found it was best to manufacture in a setting where we could keep an eye on every stitch and detail. Even 1mm in a garment so small and body contouring can make a big difference in fit/feel. We Employ women who are seriously passionate about the craft of lingerie making. Quality, endurance and functionality at the forefront of our designs.
Our fabrics are sourced from ethical mills all over the world from Europe to North America to Asia. We’ve always been very fortunate to work with companies who want to do what they can to help a smaller business.
Advertising… I noticed you made a choice by portraying different women in your lingerie and swimwear, I’d say more close to every woman. Why that choice?
To be honest, it began to happen very organically. Because we make a wide variety of sizes, I always wanted to find ways to show the range. But when I started in Toronto in 2010, models at agency were all very similar proportions. So we started shooting friends, women we were inspired by and it continued to take off from there.
What is beauty to you? Where do you look for it?
I think beauty is an ease, a confidence, accepting yourself and others, loving and being there for yourself and others.
I had the beautiful opportunity to shoot their 2019 swim collection in the beautiful nature of Puglia with photographer and friend Lily Cummings.
Lately I began paying attention to photography and advertising through women’s eyes. There is a lot less sexuality involved and while before I was feeling a little lost (I can count on one hand the number of female photographers and brands owned by women that I have worked for in my almost 20 years of career) this time I felt at ease. Shooting for women is so different, there is less perfection involved – perfection in the way we think of perfection today: of a body without marks nor cellulite, of a photo entirely polished where your skin doesn’t look like skin anymore, of a woman stripped off of her natural curves that remind us of the beauty abundance and grace of Nature. And so I love today to move towards this new fashion wave of female designers using a great variety of women as an inspiration to make clothes and lingerie and swimwear. Christina’s brand (which you can find on instagram and here) is coherent and really makes women, whether in their twenties or pregnant or moms or business women or athletes or artists or cleaning ladies, feel themselves and right and beautiful.
Today I woke up and decided to write about something very important to me.
I’ve been seeing for a while my fellow model-girlfriends starting up a revolution about bodies and the idea of beauty that’s been ferociously put into women’s minds.
I never thought to come out talking about this because I simply love doing my job without having to explain anything. I don’t like talking about what I eat; if and how many times per week I train, what is my training; what is my size; how do I feel about my body etc. Why? Because I had chosen to put the focus on other things. I wanted my social media profile to be a portrayal of what I find beautiful, and a portrayal of my “inside” (for as much as it is possible – I think I did a good job). However, it’s time I too speak publicly about the dictatorship on women’s bodies.
Answer this: Which photo would sell more panties? Which photo would make you wanna buy them? …. Answering this will make you understand why Victoria’s Secret sells a lot, hence not even thinking to include body-diversity on its runway.
However, if you did see these panties in a store (like I did) … you would buy them regardless of the ad. Why? Because they look beautiful in real life on their own, and I feel beautiful and sexy wearing them. And this is ecom marketing I’m indirectly talking about.
These selfies were taken 10 seconds apart.
A model’s job, to me, is about knowing to use your body in the most diverse ways and forms. It’s less about having a perfect body – but, what is a “perfect” body? Perfection in fashion is reached, most of the time, through intense sacrifice. When I lived in New York, I thought to be very close to becoming a Victoria’s Secret model… I told myself: If I eat less and train (“like an angel”) 2 hours every day I believe I can at least get to a casting for them. After one month I gave up though because along with the weight I was losing my mind and sanity. I begun reflecting on the price I would pay in order to get that ultimate dream job of all models. I also thought of how it would be such a big lie! I would lie saying how happy I am wearing wings and walking down the most exclusive runway; I would lie saying to be healthy when my mind would be trapped in an obsession loop… and I would not be a role-model for all the young girls who follow me. As a matter of fact I feel a certain responsibility being in the position that I am, which is a public one.
It’s important to me to empower young girls to feel good about themselves and also to take care about their bodies and their beauty. It’s important that we as models move from being just brand-models to real-life-role-models. That means to be truthful about our bodies, about our weaknesses, about our ideas, about our fights, about us.
You must understand that fashion is one thing and reality is another.
Fashion is about image: it takes a team to put together one photoshoot. As a model you get prepared by the hair dressed, the make up artist, the manicurist, the stylist, then there is the photographer who has assistants doing the light and building up the set.
In reality I never do my hair, I hardly ever wear makeup, I dress up relaxed and comfy.
I can’t show you my daily life on social media, partly because I like my privacy and partly because I have better things to do than always be on instagram.
I spend my days writing and reading and studying, and I don’t have new material for you every single day!! 🙂
I think it’s irresponsible and hypocrite to say fashion is not responsible for anorexia or bulimia in young girl. When I read of young girls age 10 (!!!!!!!) who stop eating because they want to look like models, or because they think they’re fat … I can’t but feel responsible for this because I am a model, I work in fashion, and I do sell a certain image. It’s irresponsible, not to say stupid and selfish, for brands not to think more widely about who will see their campaigns. Young girls are on instagram and watch adults and EMULATE adults! It’s not good to say “this is for women” but only portray one body type. Women are not one body type!
So modelling is a job, but it’s not a normal job and it carries a responsibility. Yes a model sells clothes. This is what she was born to do! Then it became the personification (“bodyfication”) of beauty. And that is where the problem began.
It’s easy to say “don’t believe what you see in photos”, but it’s not enough and it’s not efficient. This is me IN.EVERY.PICTURE. This is my body and I can make it look skinnier or curvier, stronger or softer… This is cool!
It’s a complex conversation to have because today we are made to believe that if you look skinny and fit you earn lots of money, as a model. It’s also a matter of feeling powerful to be able to sustain mentally such a lifestyle. And it’s hard to speak up in all honesty when what you earn is based on how you look and the image you portray. But it’s an illusion! No model really looks like how you see her on the cover!! And this is really the beautiful and fun part of being a model to me, the fact that I can change and transform and play…
Look at these photos I’m sharing in this post. I can trick you into believing anything. Instagram is a game. Fashion is a game. I’m a master of illusion, if I wasn’t I wouldn’t be able to work in this field. But I want to show you the truth behind the illusion of what is told to be “the perfect body”.