There is a bold confidence to the work of Vivien Ramsay, balanced beautifully with the most delicate and subtle details- making up what she calls her "soft armor." Working from her studio along the coast of the Philippines, Ramsay has designed and created a line for the modern woman not interested in fast results and instant gratification. We've fallen for Vivien's deep connection to nature, who forages and collects from her environment to create the pigments used in each piece. Intentional, suited to your needs, rooted to the earth- just a couple of reasons why Vivien Ramsay is one of our new favorites this season. We caught up with Vivien to learn more about her dyeing and design processes, what she's learned throughout a long creative career, and what inspires her most. Thanks, Vivien!
ET: In your description of Vivien Ramsay you write, "The bark, the leaf, the husk and the root. Extracting the richest hues imagined." What resonates with us the most about your collection is this connection to nature that you describe. Can you say a little more about the role and importance of nature in your work?
VR: Yes, nature is the epicenter of our work. We designed our life to be immersed in a landscape that we can live in simply as well as create. We have been nurturing the studio, which is based in the northern coast of the Philippines called Zambales on the South China Sea, close to surf and all the natural elements our pigments prescribe to. The studio is completely vertical from vision to your shop- from design, patterns, sewing, dyeing and printing. We set up an analog type dye/print house where we garment dye and print all of the clothes. Most of our colors are extracted direct from nature. For example, we boil almond leaves and extract pigment that make coal and onyx shades. During the rainy season, we forage certain areas for fallen trees and use the barks to extract our umber pigments. Some pigments such as madder and indigo are from India. Vivien Ramsay has evolved from the balanced relation between nature, color, and our lifestyle.
ET: I read that you have a son who is a very respected artist as well. Do you come from a background of artists and makers? What has your artistic journey looked like?
VR: Yes, Lucien remains to be my eternal inspiration. He is also intimately involved in the creation process, as well as business aspects of VR. Our family is a collage of creatives in various fields in the arts, from architecture, design, food, and music. [I'm] very fortunate to be surrounded by my family. Artistic journey has been a funny one- living and working in NYC most of my life and engaged in the whole "fashion" scene has allowed for passion and confidence to deviate and create our own ways and process..."simplify."
ET: How did Vivien Ramsay come to be realized?
VR: Vivien Ramsay came to be in 2013, rooted from our first brand called "Eairth," which was the exploration of this idea of making clothes in an honest and pure way- developing the process of making our own natural pigments, and refining sewing, knitting, and printing techniques. Eairth was carefree and easy. Coming into my 40s I was feeling a desire for soft armors that resonate this sense of confidence and awareness. Incorporating this mood into the shapes and end use that can transcend both city and rural application.
ET: You value working intentionally- each piece coming into its own on it's own; and there is a poetic nature to the way you describe VR. Can you talk a little more about your process? Do you have any working rituals or any creative routines that you'd like to share?
VR: Each piece stems from a feeling- always. How we would like to feel while wearing this piece...where we go and what we do... The fantasy is reality to me. I stargaze a lot every evening and in between this and catching waves, the inspirations come. I have a ritual of "earthing" on a daily basis, where either my hands or feet are in soil. [As] an inspiring farmer to be, I am growing our own vegetables, which I'm still learning all the time.
ET: Can you pass along a word of advice that's been either given to you or that you've come to learn through your practice?
VR: A beautiful person once told me to replace the words "need" and "want" with "desire." He said that the universe responds to desire vs. the latter. I did and guess what? It is so true!
ET: How do you maintain balance? What does your "off time" look like?
VR: Meditation in each breath. I spend off time with my husband and youngest son, Alistair, either cooking up new ideas, surfing, camping, cooking and gardening. These days my husband, Edvard, has been enthralled with making candles, soap, and surf wax. I love him as he is so unaffected. He asked me, "what is the Cire Trudon candle about anyway...why is it so special?" I laughed...the journey begins into candle making...