Designer Spotlight: Interview w/ Ava Jones of PHELINE Couture

Today I present you the fabulous designer Ava Jones and her plus size brand Pheline Couture.

I stumbled upon a few of her designs on Insta and fell instantly in love with her designs and her style !

She was born in Jamaica and raised in Toronto. Having always been full-figured, she found herself sewing/creating her own designs from a young age.

Who is Ava Jones ?

Ava Jones.....just an ordinary mother first, designer second, who is trying to inspire the world of FASHION and open their eyes to embracing the largest consumer group on the planet... PLUS SIZED, FULL FIGURED WOMEN!

What does plus fashion mean to you ?

Plus sized fashion means fuller bodies in equally as tasteful, avant-garde, fashionable, sexy, glamorous, edgy, feminine, risque and any other "fashion-termed "clothing, as every other woman who is into fashion.

Who is Your Plus Size role model?

I don't have one particular role model as I am inspired by so many beautiful , positive and humble women i have met and formed relationships/bonds with in my life and during my career.

What designers inspire you?

I am enamored with Issey Miyake, he was my first "love" as a designer, his use of fabric, geometric patterns, the natural cuts and lines in the materials....I also adore John Galliano & George Chakra for their total elegance and Jean-Paul Gaultier for his edgy, risque style. He was also the first to use plus size models and "older"models on an international runway.

How did you get into designing your line? What was the inspiration?

It truly was the lack of selection as a teenager in clothes for "bigger" girls.

It was either you dressed like a boy and styled it up with shoulder pads, lol, or a belt or you made it yourself. I was also part of a dance duo so it was left to me to create and design or costumes/outfits. I had a very unique sense of style as a teen/young adult; I'd wear bloomers and knee socks or convert a skirt into a vest so that I got maximum usage out of the piece. I was a big fan of repurposing clothing, especially since I didn't have money to purchase fabric by itself. The vintage and second-hand stores were a great resource for my creativity. Courage My Love in Kensington Market was my all time favorite. It wasn't until in my mid 20's that someone I was friends with then, made a rude statement but a provoking statement at the same time; she said in patois/Jamaican slang "a true yuh nuh waan nuh adda big gyal fi look good like you? A dat mek yuh nah sew fi nuh body? Yuh need fi design tings fi adda big girls suh dem can look good too" which basically, she was asking why I wasn't designing for other plus size women since there clearly was a lack of cute, trendy or stylish items for plus size women to wear. At the time she said it (I remember clear as day) I had on a modified faux wrap skirt, which I'd created and a matching head wrap with a simple white tank top. At that point my focus started to shift. I hadn't really paid much attention when people were asking where I'd gotten different pieces from, that I had sewn myself. But I started to pay attention after that.

What is your most proud accomplishment as a plus designer to date?

When I presented my collection at Caribbean Fashion Plus week. They also did a 4-page article on my line in Jamaica's major newspaper and featured my segment on Pulse TV for a month after....I remember when my uncle called and said he'd just seen me n TV and how proud he was of me....I cried.

What are some things you wish you knew before starting Pheline Couture?

How challenging it is to change perceptions... For example, getting women to understand that if you dress and style your body the right way, you don't need to wear a ton of shapewear to look FABULOUS in your outfit. I also wish I knew how long it ACTUALLY takes to become an "overnight success".

Did you always love your body and promote body positivity?

I've always been full figured, and i come from a long line of " big, strapping, handsome women ," on my father's side, as I've always been told. It helped me accept who i was and also helped me (along with her father) prepare my daughter for the "physical" body she would grow into and how to love every inch of skin she's in. In high school, I did track, played volleyball and was on the swim team, yet I've never been smaller than a size

Thoughts on loving your body at any size or losing weight

I think loving your body at any size is important, I also think/feel that if your weight is preventing you from living life to the fullest, posing ANY kind of health risk (and the same can be said of anorexic persons) or threatening/shortening your lifespan in any way, you have an obligation to yourself and those who love you and want to spend many more years in your presence, to do something about getting to a healthier, manageable weight. I'm not for fad diets or deprivation, we can and should eat what we like (provided it doesn't jeopardize your health), however, an eating regimen (smaller meals every 2-3 hrs) and moderation are key...and lots of water. I lost 10lbs just from eating regularly, drinking more water , and minimizing my bad sugars/carbs.

Who is the Pheline woman?

The ideal Pheline Couture Woman or Client is, a woman who has a good balance of tasteful elegance and sex appeal and understands about herself or is at least open to the concept. I do feel sometimes that something has been lost over the years in femininity vs. Full-on "sexy". I believe a woman who wears a dress to her knee, accenting her waist and neckline, but wearing a full skirt, is more sexy than a woman wearing a dress which is a size too small, that she's had to put on 3 layers of shapewear, just so she can get into. She may look great at the end of it all, but her discomfort and lack of self confidence in that piece, resonates more than Anything. Seeing a woman in a Pheline skirt, which naturally cinches her waist with a self fabric sash, paired with one of my signature lace blouses with a keyhole back and delicate ruffled lace cap sleeves (which she'd wear with just her bra for that extra edge and risque sexiness) is classy, leaves something to the imagination, has her looking like a "million bucks" and feeling comfortable in her piece, hilights and accents her assests, minimizes her " trouble areas" which in turn has her feeling comfortable and confidant in her own skin! THAT is a Pheline Woman.

I see in your collections that you primarily design dresses. Is there a reason ?

I truly believe that women, ALL women look STUNNING in a dress that is designed to compliment "her" figure. I don't think there's a dress or gown about there that any woman can't wear, once it's been designed properly for her body... Fuller bust, thicker waist, rounder hips, I think I've shown over the years that there is a dress for every woman which will make her look and feel like a goddess. Im all for pants, and what have you, but I think there is something so classy and elegant about a woman in a dress, from a summer dress to a gown. it's odd to me that a lot of women describe feeling like a princess on their wedding day or at a special event, when they've put on a fantastic gown/ why wouldn't you want to feel that way more regularly???

Summer is officially here. Tell me your top five Pheline looks for summer:

  • signature wrap pant in a poly-linen blend...they give the appearance of wearing a full maxi skirt, can be dressed up or down

  • the maxi chiffon summer dress

  • the lace , ruffled cap sleeve blouse with a wrap skirt

  • the slouchy jumper is so fun and lightweight and can be dressed up or down

  • the asymmetrical goddess gown

  • Sorry 6, lol....the asymmetrical crepe swing dress

What are some fashion pieces every plus woman should have in her wardrobe?

  • A short or capped sleeve lace blouse (can be paired with virtually anything)

  • A great pair of well fitting skinny jeans (preferably one dark and one light denim)

  • A well fit maxi skirt with a fun geometric print

  • A well fit blazer

  • A waist length cardigan in a neutral colour

  • A little black dress

  • Several fashionable, well fitting belts of various widths

  • Several close fitting plain white v-neck t-shirts and at least 1quality white and 1 black heavy fabric tank top (with at least a 3-5% spandex count)

  • Several body completing dresses of varying lengths... I'm a fan of knee length and just below the knee, leaves something to the imagination

  • And COLOUR....don't shy Way from it or WHITES

What do you wear on a casual day ?

A maxi dress and varying footwear depending on the time of year....but I tend to wear dresses all year round and I'm a fan of Converse (my staple at my shows, those and my slouchy jumpers). When I was younger you couldn't catch me in a dress; I was jeans and tees until one day in high school, a senior complimented me and said I looked beautiful and sexy in my dress. "Very should wear them more often, they flatter your figure" (total blushing)... that always stuck with me. I think its the first time it resonated with me that I didn't have to wear something short or tight to be noticed and seen as beautiful

What do you carry in your handbag?

  • 2 types of acai berry and mango butter lip gloss

  • My journal

  • My business cards (though I'm really bad at remembering to give them out, lol)

  • Hand lotion

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Perfume

  • My compact for those "shiny" moments

  • Multiple pens and markers

  • And a mini sewing kit

If you could go anywhere for one day, where would it be ?

Bora Bora.....yesssss, food, sun, sand, peace

Your song when you're happy ? And when you're sad ?

Happy.....honestly, pretty much any reggae/dancehall song....the beats get into my soul

Sad...Luther Vandross.... I Who Have Nothing

3 words your closest friends would use to describe you:

- creative

- nerdy

- road soldier....I like to drive, lol

A dream for your future you want to share with us ?

To have several boutiques in Toronto, NYC, Houston, Montreal and England.

I am sure you now love her just as much as I do ! What an inspiring and talented woman.

When you pursue some of her dresses, please send over your photos and I will feature on the blog & my Insta page !

Curvily yours,

Anna B.

#DesignerSpotlight #English