Over the past 10 years, womenswear designer Paul Hardy has gone from working out of the rented basement suite of a Calgary home to recently opening a 3,600-square-foot showroom in modish Inglewood, the city’s oldest neighborhood. “I’ve come a long way since my days working out of the bat cave,” says Hardy, laughing. “I wanted to create an environment where you feel as if you are entering another world.” That environment now serves as a design studio, a showroom for his wares, the company offices, and a warehouse to stock the future online store. The entrepreneur turned what was once a brass foundry designed by the Westinghouse Empire in 1913 into an atelier complete with art, furniture, and his own namesake collection of ultrafeminine standout items.
Recognized as a heritage building within the city, the Foundry, as Hardy refers to the space, features exposed ductwork, iron sash windows, and custom depressed-bronze farm lights juxtaposed with crystal chandeliers. Inspired by the dichotomy of paradoxical freedom—do our actions and beliefs bring us freedom or limit us?—Hardy’s fall/winter 2012 collection includes studs and spikes on wrist cuffs crafted from soft suede and pony skins; corseted belts; and bondage-like leather coats with wraparound waist ties.
“Everything has a mix of hard and soft,” explains the designer. In addition to his clothing line, fine jewellery pieces, and a handmade Irish knitwear collection, Hardy’s recent collaboration with the Alberta Boot Company sees him adding made-to-measure boots to his empire. “I like to constantly push myself,” says the multitalented designer. “I don’t like to feel limited in life.”
Photo by Phil Crozier.