You don’t come across a prodigy every day you know. So when you see one, make sure you pay attention. That’s what happened for me with Karen Quirion, founder of the fashion brand KQK. Some years ago, I discovered her perfectly clean creations while researching for an article about minimalism.
Reading about her background left me blown away. She has accomplished things that make you wonder: “But how old is she???” To then discover that she’s only 26. Curious? Read on to learn more about this amazing designer.
Tell me about your background.
After high school, I left Québec to enroll in the Fashion Design program at the Notre-Dame de Foy Campus. After obtaining my diploma, I stayed there another year to study foreign languages and then, I was off to Milan! I started with a bachelor in Fashion Merchandising at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti and subsequently, I completed my masters in Fashion Communication & PR at the Istituto Europeo di Design. Before coming back to Montreal, I spent a couple of months in Argentina to do language studies.
(Yup, she’s only 26.)
How did Milan and Buenos Aires influence your creative process?
To this day, Milan represents a big part of my brand’s DNA. It’s the place where I found and developed my aesthetic. There’s a moodiness about the city, an energy that moves me and that translates into the sobriety of my line.
Buenos Aires represents a turning point in the creation of my company. I went during a pretty harsh winter – not at all the sunny and colorful atmosphere you would expect. However, it’s that odd vitality that inspired me to create the prototypes of my first collection.
I was looking for a short and simple diminutive that’s reminiscent of the essence of the brand. “KQ” are my initials and the second “K” is the first letter of my brother’s name.
What’s the philosophy behind KQK?
It’s androgynous, minimalist and subdued, therefore conveying a “less is more” ideology. The limelight is on the person wearing the clothes, not the clothes themselves.
Why is a clean design so alluring to you?
Minimalism is often associated with simplicity. However, the idea of reducing an object to its bare minimum can be incredibly complex. A visually simple garment with a sophisticated construction is what I’m striving for.
I hear that your production is done in Thetford Mines?
Yes! It’s a factory owned by my mother. We’ve put together a specialized team of locals, which helps us keep the quality standards very high.
What’s the first thing you do when starting a new collection?
I systematically establish a well defined and clear concept. I then decide on the styles, silhouettes and colors. It’s a very methodical process that becomes a lot more chaotic when I actually start creating.
What music did you listen to while working on the SS15 collection?
I listened to many things, but I was immensely inspired by the earlier work of Trentemøller.
How would you describe your relation to colors?
Although I find it easier to convey an emotion through a black/grey/white scheme (the roots of KQK), colors are not totally out of the question. At first, when I start a collection, I generally consider including a couple of them, mostly cool tones. Yet, they seldom become a distraction to the concept.
Name three people who inspire you.
Ann Demeulemeester, Franca Sozzani and Rick Owens.
What does your typical day look like?
My schedule is always changing! I usually wake up very early, around 5h30. It’s the part of the day when I feel the most inspired. I try not to have meetings in the morning so I can fully concentrate on creating. In the afternoon and evening, I do whatever is on my priority list: researching, buying fabrics, managing, etc.
Something you can’t live without while creating?
My iPod, definitely.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In addition to penetrating the American and European market, I hope to tackle the Asian fashion territory. I also wish to develop a menswear line, directly inspired by the essence of my current line.
Let me know about some of your favorite minimalist fashion brands in the comments below!