Blonde on blonde but a whole lot better

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Photo by Erika Sanborn

Photo by Erika Sanborn

Photo by Erika Sanborn

Photo by Erika Sanborn

Abigail Pyke is a purpose-driven blonde. "When I'm putting together an outfit," she tells me, "I always step back from the mirror and ask myself, 'How can I make this more interesting?'"

I first encountered Abigail eight years ago. She sat behind me in my penultimate year of high school mathematics. It was, unfortunately, not a subject that could be made more interesting. Neither of us particularly enjoyed or understood the class.

I'm pleased to say that our paths recently crossed in a more dynamic environment: the fashion capital of the world. Abi's suitcase sat in my room in Paris for a few weeks at one point. We also met up in London. When I was on the fence about purchasing a used pair of maroon Bass loafers, I was grateful for her discerning eye and dry wit. "Get them," she said. "They'll last."

The Windsor native is currently pursuing a MSc in Luxury Management and Marketing from emlyon business school. Over the past year, she divided her time between campuses in Paris and Shanghai as well as the London College of Fashion. Her classes included Consumer Lifestyles, European Law, Digital Marketing, Human Branding, as well as an in-company project with a London-based prosecco and champagne brand.

I think of Abi when I'm drinking a nice craft cocktail. Her favourite one to make herself is a French 75. "I like any cocktail that has gin and lemon and resembles a grown up lemonade," she says. The twenty four year old has a penchant for the phrase "Que sera sera" but you can tell that she's no stranger to hard work. She holds an Bachelor's degree from the University of Windsor in Honours Business Administration and she does not take shit from men who try to question her intelligence or interests. Keep reading to learn more about her line of work.

RS: How do you express yourself, Abi?
AP: I very poorly speak three languages: English, French, and German. I think language is important, but as a frequent traveller I know it's not the most important. I think I express myself through my clothing, and through my facial expressions. I'm told my face is easy to read, though my last three months in Shanghai made me a GREAT hand gesture communicator.

RS: You just returned to Southwestern Ontario from Shanghai. How does it feel?
AP: Shanghai is a cool vacation city, but living there for three months was too much for me. Getting home from China last week put me in a mood upswing. I've been deliriously happy to be home.

RS: Windsor was where you say you broke out of your shell.
AP: As someone who was really involved in uni (at least, for my undergrad degree), and as someone who was previously painfully shy and nervous talking to people, I'm astounded at how much it broke me out of my shell. Not sure how that happened.

RS: What did working for the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) teach you?
AP: To never say "but that's not my job!!" I learned that when you work on a team like that one, you have to have your hands in a few different baskets as needed. No one likes a team member that only does what's in their job description.

RS: I agree. How do you feel about having done so many group projects in business school?
AP: Group projects are necessary in business school, but having completed two business related degrees, I can safely say I'm over it. I'm pretty particular. Some would call me bossy, but I'd describe myself as take-charge, especially in group projects. I like to think that I have my opinions but can step back and see where others are coming from. That took me a while to learn.

RS: What is it that you do now?
AP: I work in fashion marketing (which I've been working towards for so long and it sounds surreal so I feel like a poser whenever I answer with that). I love consumer behaviour and fashion theory and why we buy the things we do and what it says about us.

RS: Who's your fave designer at the moment?
AP: Rosie Assoulin. If you're a fan of Man Repeller you'll know her name, but I like that she's a smaller independent designer with a recognizable collection. Also, plaid. I like the plaids she uses.

RS: Any other brands you admire?
AP: Brands that work against how damaging and wasteful the fashion industry can be. [I appreciate] brands that have sustainable practices built into their identity, and not just as a bandwagon thing for marketing purposes. I think brands like that are really important and are changing the industry right now.

RS: Can you give me a couple examples?
AP: Stella McCartney is one that has [sustainability] rooted in the brand, but there's a lot of discussion over whether or not it really is sustainable … It's still a major brand using the same fashion system that stays wasteful. Christopher Reaburn is a cool sustainable brand that uses recycled fabrics too!

RS: Where's your upcoming internship in London?
AP: Mary Katrantzou. I'll be working on social media and e-commerce, and I'm excited to work for an independent designer with a small team.

RS: You're on vacation at home right now until you start that internship. What's a day in your life like?
AP: My life has been changing pretty consistently every three months for the last year, so my day-to-day isn't overly stable. It consists of me sitting at Villain's drinking coffee, annoying my boyfriend as he bartends.

RS: What's your favourite beer?
AP: Currently the lavender blonde from Craftheads Brewing Co., since it's summer and it's nice and light, and lavender. All time though? I really couldn't say. I try a lot of different beers and my tastes are constantly changing. Three years ago I'd have said Grimbergen anything, and three months ago and I'd have said "No thanks, I'll have wine please."

RS: What's one of your favourite travel destinations?
AP: When I was 20 and just moved to Tuebingen, Germany, a group of friends and I got a house overlooking Lake Como for a weekend in August, and it was still one of the greatest trips I've ever taken, even though I'm not in touch with them anymore. I was never one for a relaxing vacation -- laying on a beach in a resort never appealed to me, but I now really appreciate the kind of relaxation that comes from getting a house on the lake, and it will never ever be overrated.

RS: Now that you're pretty well travelled, you're understanding what you call "the value of home."
AP: Moving around a lot as a kid both in Canada and the UK made me crave change too often, though now I'm craving a home base to call my own for a bit.

RS: What do you appreciate about Windsor and Detroit?
AP: I really didn't like it for a long time, and I just wanted to escape. 2016-2018 really showed me what Windsor and Detroit have to offer, and sometimes I get homesick, even though I'm living in equally fantastic cities. Living here also taught me how much I love living near water. If I've got anywhere to drive, and driving down Riverside drive is an option (even if it takes 40 minutes longer), I'll do it.

RS: Best dinner spot in Detroit?
AP: Ten times out of ten if you ask me for a dinner spot in Detroit, I'll say Lafayette Coney Island. I take promising dates there, just to see how they'll react to eating a chili dog on a second date.

RS: What's the scariest thing you've ever done?
AP: I got a job in Greece at a hostel off one of those sketchy looking jobs boards online. I went for two months and it really changed my outlook on things, again in terms of why we do things -- like, why can't I just sit and read and work on this island forever. Do I need to go back to school and work? What's the point of this whole conveyor belt (Thanks, Holden Caulfield), and do we do it for ourselves or others? How authentically me are my decisions?

RS: You think a lot about authenticity.
AP: Being our authentic selves vs our public selves goes hand in hand with fashion and style. I find that balance very fascinating. Authenticity in what people do was something I thought a lot about during my time in London, thanks to a class on London culture that I took. It led us around different neighbourhoods, and really made me think about what people do and why they do it, which varies greatly by area there.

RS: What do you like to read?
AP: I have an unhealthy love for BJ Novak's book, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, and I'm currently reading through Salinger's Glass family stories in publication order. I also love Dorothy Parker.

RS: I love Dorothy Parker too. And you're an indie music gal?
AP: I'm pretty mixed up in the world of indie rock/folk/whatever you want to file under the indie label, so I'll give ya a few to get a feel for my taste: The Shins, The Last Shadow Puppets, Fleet Foxes, and anything my dad listens to from 60s folk to 80s new wave.

RS: Been to any good shows lately?
AP: I recently saw Albert Hammond Jr in Camden Town, and it was all my high school dreams coming true.

RS: What psychs you out?
AP: Thinking about how cameras work. BUT HOW? Technology in general, actually. How do all these pieces of metal and plastic just DO all this shit??? Also, I think a lot about death and outer space.

Photo by Ian Broad

Photo by Ian Broad

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