Interview With A Designer: Antik Batik’s Gabriella Cortese

From Antik Batik's Fall/Winter 2009 Collection
The Toronto International Film Festival kicked off yesterday, as did New York Fashion Week. It seems appropriate that I had a chance to Gabriella Cortese, the designer of the Paris-based label Antik Batik, who is in town for TIFF, dressing Jessica Paré for the premiere of the movie Suck.

Antik Batik’s look is free-spirited/bourgeois bohéme. The label is beloved by trend-setting celebrities such as Gwen Stefani, Vanessa Paradis, Lou Doillon and Kate Moss — probably because it looks great on twenty- and fortysomethings alike. Each piece is made with sumptuous fabrics and many are hand-printed or hand-finished with sequins, beads and embroidery.

Cortese (pictured below with the Fall/Winter collection), a native of Turin, Italy, was moved to start the label in 1992, after years of travelling the world. Her design signatures include Indonesian Batik prints and South East Asian tunics and djeballahs. But inspiration for her Fall/Winter 2008 Collection comes from closer to home: “I’m taking more from Mittel Europa,” says Cortese. “I like to think of it as a Klimt painting come to life.”

If anything, the cut and design of the clothing is influenced by time travel. By wearing an Antik Batik, “you can be in the 20s, the ’30s, the ’40s.” And, by way of explaining the appeal of her creations, that sense of history “reminds you of something personal.”

I’m also a fan of Antik Batik’s versatility: The Vahina Djellabah pictured above, can be paired with skinny Chin pants for the Canadian Film Centre Barbeque by day, or worn as a dress on the red carpet at night.

Antik Batik is availbale through and

Antik Batik designer Gabriella Cortese