Dressed (and Designed) for Success: Meet Local Artist Amandine Leforestier
Outfitted with a bold philosophy and creative instincts, Amandine Leforestier has grown her artistic roots using her bold philosophy as a successful illustrator and independent fashion designer.
Originally from Normandy, France, Amandine studied applied arts and graduated with a degree in fashion design, which she leveraged at studios throughout Paris for a decade. But she grew tired with the industry and backpacked through five countries on a grounded journey to hone in on what animated her. When she returned, Amandine no longer had any desire to follow micro trends and styles that whirl through department stores quicker than seasonal décor. Instead, she wanted to engage a human dimension in her artistic pursuits. She launched and managed a popular ready-to-wear business in Lyon, France for six years as CEO and Artistic Director, and claimed first prize in the Talents de Mode international competition to promote innovative, entrepreneurial designers. Eventually, she found herself moving to Bellevue where she’s been busy designing for the past three years.
Eager to learn more about her professional and creative journeyand what lies ahead as the pandemic tapers off, we caught up with Amandine to pick her brain.
BDA: What first piqued your interest about design? Were there any memorable experiences that motivated you to explore art further?
AL: I couldn’t explain how, but even at a young age I had an inkling that drawing would always belong in my life. In school, teachers motivated me to explore art further, which helped me realize that different people can invite you to see the world through lenses that might never have been on your radar before. Over the years, I’ve continued to lean into that desire to seek new perspectives. I travel and visit museums often, which always offers refreshing insight and satisfies that itch to broaden my worldview. As a student, I painted regularly, although I stopped when I became seriously invested in fashion design. However, those four months I reserved for travel helped me to rediscover old passions and interests within myself, and I began painting again through my travelogues.
BDA: How would you describe your genre of artistry? What distinguishes your work, expertise and ethos from other creatives?
AL: Whether I am drawn to create a garment or alternative artwork, what truly inspires me are the distinctive lines that create form; a form simplified to its essence. Form and color are essential components in my work. Developed with a conscious process, my artwork is printed in limited edition on museum quality paper with archival inks, here in Bellevue. I think I would define my genre of artistry as contemporary figurative. I create collages and simple color schemes, paring down objects on a fundamental level. Colors have an innate impact on our emotions. I integrate colors that mutually combine a peaceful and joyful aura, like modernist poetry that plays with vivid language and eases the mind.
BDA: How has your relationship with art transformed during the pandemic? Have you approached projects any differently?
AL: When I arrived in the U.S., I landed without a network and found that the most effective way to present my work and cross paths with other artists was through shows and exhibitions. When the pandemic struck, everything readjusted. I miss the spontaneous camaraderie from meeting other creatives. Lately, I’ve been focused on ramping up ecommerce on my website, developing more prints and products rather than return to the drawing board, and searching for editorial and commissioned work, and other collaborations in the interim.
BDA: Walk us through your experience as a contestant and later finalist in the UTGP competition! What outlets or sources served as inspiration during your design process? How has that opportunity and recognition impacted you personally and professionally?
AL: For the 15th annual UTGP, a global t-shirt design competition, UNIQLO (a cosmopolitan clothing brand that lives and breathes quality craftsmanship and progressive aesthetics) partnered with MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art) in New York City. Participants designed plain graphic t-shirts based on the thematic prompt, “Draw Your World,” which could virtually apply to anything! Anyone can partake, regardless of age, gender, occupation or nationality, in an effort to foster imagination and artistic talent in people all over the world. I wanted to work on parity and fusion around nature. I started with an idea for a pattern that combined intricately woven flower petals and spotted patterns on animals. What first caught my attention were poppies, which influenced the silhouette and formal details for the piece. Afterward, I detached myself from the floral reprocessing by tinkering with unique shapes for the petals and color palate in order to evoke a tawny coat and ultimately, shed light on an association between delicacy and animal character. There were over ten thousand entries submitted from around the world and judged by renowned artists with works shown at the MoMa. I earned second place for my submission, entitled “Feline Flowers.” The winning designs are now being marketed and distributed for sale in UNIQLO stores among 26 countries, including the Bellevue location! Just the thought that our designs can reach people across the globe carries serious weight. As an artist, visibility on that scale isn’t anything I take for granted. Entering the competition made sense for several reasons. Its whole premise merges art and fashion. Conceptualizing a t-shirt as a canvas that could be displayed on a clothes rack and transform into something people could buy, wear and love really resonated with my background and artistic values. Garments are a medium, and I appreciate that major brands have increasingly sought out collaborations with artists.
BDA: Are there any specific reasons you enjoy living in the Bellevue community? Where are your favorite spots Downtown for lunch? A night out? Tell us about any great businesses or favorite destinations you've discovered in the Downtown neighborhood!
AL: I am continuously grateful to live such a short distance from different landscapes and scenery, surrounded by access to majestic lakes, mountains, lush forests and a sprawling urban environment. Without a doubt, Jujubeet cafe is my favorite place for lunch. I like the atmosphere and the healthy, organic choices are delicious! Sometimes when I feel nostalgic for French cuisine, I like to unwind at Cépaé Tasting Room, watching Parisian pictures on a projector while drinking French wine and savoring an authentic crêpe! I also recommend trying the patisseries from the bakery, too! For special occasions and events, performances at Chop Shop: Bodies of Work, a traveling contemporary dance festival, are always booked on my agenda, and of course, the Bellevue Arts Museum Arts Fair, prior to COVID-19 restrictions.
Follow @amandineleforestier on Instagram to browse a collection of her sketches, projects and previous exhibition work, then venture over to her digital portfolio to explore her complete galleries and purchase original, mixed media prints! For more local business profiles, community stories and announcements, follow us @bellevuedowntown to keep in touch with all the Heart of Bellevue hustle and bustle!
This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.
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