Saturday, May 12, 2007

Designer Aims to Please All Shapes and Sizes [- Cambodian silk]

Babs Lucus with a silk spinner artisan in Cambodia in 2006. Cambodian silk is made using ancient techniques, such as hand spinning and loom weaving. (Tanya Meyer)

May 11, 2007
By Kasia Fryklund
Special to The Epoch Times

It isn't often that someone comes along who has the power and drive to make a difference in the world, but Babs Lucus is convinced she can do precisely that.

What began as a passion for silk and design has, with Lucus' sense of creativity and innovation, turned into a stand for challenging what society has come to expect as the norm, especially when it comes to fashion. Located on Granville Street in downtown Vancouver, Babs Studio Boutique operates on the fundamental value of making "one difference at a time."

Lucus first became fascinated with silk and the other textiles she encountered while traveling in Cambodia. She has been in love with everything Asian ever since.

"I often joke around with people that I'm Asian on the inside and White on the outside," she laughs.

While in Cambodia, Lucus forged a strong connection with the local weavers, which inspired her to seek a way to assist them. She began to get in contact with many fare trade organizations and NGO's in the hopes making a difference in peoples' lives through creating an industry of silk weaving. She helps support the Artists of Cambodia organization, which creates employment for some of Cambodia's most vulnerable: landmine survivors, people with disabilities, and women.

Lucus travels to Cambodia twice a year to order silk supplies. The silk there is made using ancient techniques such as hand spinning and loom weaving, and is one of the most luxurious and sought after textiles in the world, she says.

Lucus has another passion, which is to depart from the "skinny model" ideal that the fashion industry promotes. She believes that clothes should fit each unique body type, and so two years ago she created a line that bridges the gap between petite and large sizes. She says her boutique is one of the only stores in Canada that carries such an extensive size range.

"I want to make clothes like everyone else does and make beautiful things that people adore and look beautiful in, but I also want to feel good about what I'm doing. Spreading a positive body image is part of the package," says Lucus.

A regular customer at Babs Studio Boutique, Zoe Ryan, says Lucus' creations have been effective in promoting a positive body image in women by "mixing a very trendy location with amazing clothes with a body positive message." "So many clothing lines for curvy, bigger women are so very boring and use only darker colours and unexciting fabrics," says Ryan. "Bab's designs and clothing celebrate all women and make all women feel beautiful when wearing these clothes."

Hoping to make a significant change in the way the fashion industry operates, Lucus has set out to find women who are not airbrushed or perfect, and who are "in touch with the meaning of life." To that end, she launched her first "Real Woman Contest" on National Woman's Day. The purpose of the contest is to celebrate and reward true and natural beauty so that "acceptance will be a common feeling we have for one another and for ourselves."

"I'm here to say that size really doesn't matter," says Lucus. "Beauty is from within, which is what we should be celebrating. It really isn't about the prizes, or being a model, or glory, but the courage and stepping up together."

The Moxie Murmur is another one of Lucus' endeavours. This little publication portrays something of her generous nature through a statement on the top left-hand corner that reads, "Our 2 cents, Yours Free." The Moxie Murmur was created as a way to provide a woman's perspective and to offer a local and positive outlook on life. The only articles allowed in the paper, says Lucus, are those which "provide a solution to whatever problem that is being addressed." Having been blessed with the gift of being both a leader and an inventor, Lucus feels she has the power to implement changes in society. Her designs are only the start of what promises to be a thriving career geared toward the betterment of humanity.

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