At the age of fourteen, Lacy Barry was given a religious premonition of her future with fashion. The word “ephoe,” a plural form of the eight ritual garments worn by Jewish high priests, appeared in her dream. Barry, age 24, is the founder of Ephoe Inc., a label whose influences come from lush tropical colors, Audrey Hepburn and Victorian couture. Started in May 2004, Ephoe has been one of the top labels in Calgary, where she was listed as the only female designer in the Calgary Herald’s “20 Compelling Calgarians to Watch in 2006.” However, Barry’s future as a Canadian designer was shaped by her parents’ professions in the arts.
Lacy Barry, who grew up outside of Calgary in Braggs Creek, was raised by Liz and Dale Barry, a seamstress and an artist. “My father would take me out to help on different mural jobs or when he was working as an art director in films,” she says. “My mother encouraged me to draw outfits that I could wear to school. As outrageous and unrealistic as they were at times, she worked with me to make them wearable and functional.” At age seven, Barry won her first art award in a local department store contest, then further dived into her mother’s profession as a teenager. “She started me off with some of the most repetitious hand sewing and not letting me leave the house in an unfitted vintage coat or dress, until I was able to take it apart properly and work with her on the fit. It really built the foundation for what makes every piece I create now delicate couture, much like a work of art.” After honing her skills, it was time for Barry’s ambition to be tested on the catwalk.
At age 20, Lacy Barry was invited to participate in L’hiver, a winter-themed fashion show in her native Canada. “All my friends knew that I had sewn most of my clothes, so they recommended me to the group setting up the showcase,” she says. “I entitled the collection ‘Inverno Mode,’ meaning ‘winter fashion’ in Swiss-German.” Her popular vintage-inspired threads got a surprising demand from the public. “I don’t think Canadian fashion is taken as seriously,” she says. “I suppose if we, as Canadians, learn to take ourselves in the arts more seriously, it may flourish as a profitable industry.” In 2004, in a city far from Milan, Paris, and New York City, a clothing line was born.
With the intention of making Canadian fashion more notable, she debuted Ephoe and Associates, which offered budding artists and designers the opportunity to help her create themed showcases. On June 2, 2005, “The Mind Exotic,” the company’s second fashion show, was held at the Virginia Christopher Gallery in Calgary. The event, which attracted 250 attendees, had a flora theme with real and faux trees, as well as periwinkle suits and 1940’s tuxes. Canadian fashion would finally begin to gain its well-deserved recognition.
Ephoe Inc., unlike other European and American designs, unites vibrant colors, retro chic, and classic femininity, which Barry describes as “wearable garments that complement the body.” For her first New York show during 2007 Fashion Week in Bryant Park, high collars were used to emphasize long, slender necks with soft lace and frill stitching. Grey and ivory dresses with antique floral prints were introduced with heirloom buttons that had delicate inscriptions. Other more formal gowns enhanced a small waist and wide hips, similar to the look of a hidden corset. For added color, the gowns had Persian-inspired prints underneath. More contemporary looks included a sexy black jacket with an exposed chest and a matching vest that went with baggy, low-rise grey slacks. Other outfits featured a ruffled shirt with an orange, red, and crème floral pattern. The most elegant piece of the collection was a lacy, plum jacket with burgundy tones and a slightly puffed, satin black skirt. Each piece was an homage to feminine fabrics and nights out in London. Ephoe’s Autumn/Winter 2007 nine-piece collection was darker than Spring/Summer 2006, which contained look-at-me-but-don’t sunglasses, psychedelic prints, along with neon-green low riders and white, sleeveless day dresses.
Since its debut, Ephoe hasn’t failed to create a spark worldwide. In spring 2006, Barry pursued her passion for fashion in London, but due to high cost of living, she quickly moved to Los Angeles where she currently lives. After settling in the city of angels, Barry is now working on costumes for Olga Kurylenko’s upcoming film Tyranny. Aside from dressing the new James Bond girl, Berry looks forward to her upcoming collection. “I’m completely in the pursuit of the future. It’s a new century and it takes the first decade for the style and indication of an era to settle in,” she explains. “I’m aiming to provide garments for our new world and a compelling new time.”