Designer Jessica Biffi Talks about Project Runway, Her New Clothing Collections, and Being Yourself.

Jessica Biffi photographed by Max Abadian

Jessica Biffi began her career as a visual merchandiser for a women’s plus-size retail store in Toronto after graduating from the Ryerson University School of Fashion in 2006. Jessica developed further as a designer on the second season of Project Runway Canada. Jessica won three challenges and gained wide recognition in the industry.

Jessica has premiered at LG Fashion Week and shown at Toronto Alternative Fashion Week. She designs plus-size and regular lines. A few of the industry’s leading retailers Jessica has partnered with are Addition Elle, MXM (sold at Penningtons), and Gymboree. Biffi has since established her own signature line, showcasing her spring/summer collection during Fashion Week last fall. Jessica Biffi, her signature line, is one year old.

Photographed by Max Abadian

How, why, and when did you decide you wanted to be a fashion designer?

I decided that I wanted to be a fashion designer the first second I realized it was what you could do when you “grew up.” I was about four or five years old, I was watching a fashion show with my mom and I asked her who the person that came out at the end was (that everyone was clapping for). She told me that they were the person that made those clothes. I asked her if that was a job that people could do — and she told me that it was. It was decided then and there — that was what I wanted to do. I always drew clothing as a child, and loved clothes from the second I could dress myself. I loved it before I knew what “fashion” was.

Tell us about your Project Runway Canada experience.

It was amazing! Obviously, it was stressful and a huge test on a person, both in terms of skills and sanity — but it was the most rewarding thing ever. I loved the experience. I met some amazing people and loved the crew. I learned so much about myself as both a person and as a designer — and I was able to show Canada what I can do.

How did being a participant and being the runner-up on the Project Runway show affect your career?

The show really was a launching pad for me. It has opened many doors for me and given me the chance to meet and work with incredible people. And the public knows my name! As a young designer that is a very difficult thing to have first thing in your career.

Photographed by Max Abadian

Tell us about your newly launched plus size clothing collections: Jessica Biffi for Addition Elle and Bold Biffi for MXM. How would you describe the collections?

Both collections are very different. The mythical bird the Phoenix inspired the Jessica Biffi for Addition Elle line. I pulled from shades and colors in fire and feathers. It’s a very fashion forward line, with clean lines, and a mix of tailoring and feminine drape. It’s the more sophisticated of the two lines. Bold Biffi for MXM is all about fun and sex appeal. The inspiration came from India. I pulled from the beautiful rich colors and gold accents of the culture. I wanted it to be sassy and fun, but also flattering and comfortable.  

What designers inspire you?

The designer that inspired me to really become a designer and changed how I look at design is (Lee) Alexander McQueen. His attention to detail and amazing tailoring was an art form alone — add this incredible imagination and voice to that and it was so beautiful to watch. I was so devastated when I heard of his passing.

What was it like for you to show case your collection(s) at the 2010 LG Fashion Week Beauty by L’Oréal Paris?

I love doing fashion shows. It’s one of the best parts of being a designer — creating this showcase of your work and giving it a vibe and attitude. It was so amazing to be involved and to have received the amazing feedback and support that I did. That was incredible.  

Photographed by Max Abadian

Have you ever struggled with self-esteem or body image issues in the past? If so, how did you reach the point of accepting and loving your body as it is?

I think that everyone has. I know that when I was in high school — I definitely did. I was going through an awkward stage where I didn’t really know what my style was, who I was as a person, and what my voice was yet. As I started to figure things out my confidence grew, and I realized that you’ll never be as this or that as someone else, but as long as you like you, it’s all good. I stopped caring about what others thought – and just did what I wanted to do.

What advice would you give to girls and women, who are struggling with body image, confidence, and self-esteem issues?

Everyone feels like this as some point. The thing is you have to be willing to see that, and what it is that makes you different and special. Sounds cliché I know, but with women there are a lot of self-bullying, and I wish it would go away because it adds to these issues.

Photographed by Max Abadian

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

It’s kind of a big one — but the fact that I’m twenty-seven years old and am in the career that I’ve always wanted to have! I mean, the fashion industry is a tough one, and I’ve already come so far and do not intend on stopping anytime soon!

What is your favorite piece that you have designed?

It’s hard for me to pick favorites — every season I fall in love with the pieces. 

Photographed by Max Abadian

How does it feel to be receiving such great feedback regarding your designs?

It’s really the greatest thing! When you put your work out there, you hope that people will like what you are doing — but the response to both Jessica Biffi for Addition Elle and Bold Biffi for MXM has been so amazing! I’m very proud and humbled by it, and hope that the support keeps coming as I grow even more.

What are you excited about right now?

I’m working on my new spring line for Jessica Biffi – its very fun and menswear is coming in this collection as well! I won’t say too much, but it’s going to be hot!

What goals do you have for the future?

I want Jessica Biffi to be international. My hope is that in ten years it will be.

Photographed by Max Abadian

*We would love to hear from you! Please leave your questions and comments here. =)

To learn more about Jessica Biffi and her collections please visit her website at www.jessicabiffi.com! You can also find Jessica Biffi for Addition Elle at www.additionelle.com, Bold Biffi for MXM at http://www.1-plus.com/mxm.htm, and Penningtons at www.penningtons.com.

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7 Responses to “Designer Jessica Biffi Talks about Project Runway, Her New Clothing Collections, and Being Yourself.”

  1. Wonderful post! We are linking to this particularly great content
    on our website. Keep up the giod writing.

  2. She designs plus size clothes, right? So why are all the models about a size 8?

  3. Hey you inspired me so much. I watched every episode you were on 🙂 I am a big fan of all your work. I am thinking about attending Ryerson University! I am going in grade 12 and im taking fashion courses and everything. I know Ryerson is a very competitive school to get into. Im gonna have to work my but to get there 🙂 Did you like Ryerson? Do you think it helped in the future?

  4. SAMANTHA Says:

    HI JESSICA

    AFTER WATCHING YOU ON T.V. I WAS REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO FRESH, NEW STYLES AND WEARABLE FABRICS.

    IT’S WONDERFUL HAVING CONTACT WITH A REAL DESIGNER – YOU ARE NOT JUST A NAME – YOU ARE A PERSON!

    NOW THAT COTTON GINNY WENT UNDER, I NEED A PLACE TO BUY CLOTHING – WHERE, OH WHERE CAN THAT BE?

    I CHECKED OUT THE NET AND OUR LOCAL PENNINGTONS/MXM AND TO BE HONEST, I WAS EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED!!!

    THE FOLLOWING ARE THE REASON FOR SAYING THIS…..

    1) I DON’T FEEL SIZE “14” IS A PLUS MODEL!!!!

    I, FOR INSTANCE HAVE SMALL “GIRLS” AND HIPS TO MAKE UP FOR THAT DOWNFALL – IN OTHER WORDS I HAVE A PERFECT FIGURE IF I STAND ON MY HEAD!!!

    MOST “PLUS” SIZES ARE MEANT FOR WOMEN WITH BOOBS TO MATCH THE HIPS, THEREFORE MOST STYLES

    ARE NOT PRACTICAL, THE TOPS MUST FIT MY OVER MY HIPS MAKING THE TOPS FAR TOO BIG AND THEN THEY GAP AT THE BUST! THIS MAKES SHOPPING FOR CLOTHES VERY DIFFICULT FOR ME (WEIGHT GAIN WAS BECAUSE OF MEDICATION A FEW YEARS AGO, AND I CAN’T RID MYSELF OF IT)

    2) WHAT’S WITH ALL THE POLYESTER AND NYLON IN CLOTHING?

    A CHEAP MAN MADE MATERIAL THAT DOESN’T BREATHE AND WHEN ONE WEARS IT IN SUMMERS – YOU

    COOK (AND MAYBE CAUSING PERSPIRATION AND ODER’S ) AND IN WINTER YOU FREEZE!!!

    PERSONALLY I GET GIANT HIVES WEARING THESE MATERIALS – YUCK

    THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE OF UNDERWEAR – THE BODY SHOULD LOOK BEAUTIFUL, BUT IT MUST “BREATHE” AS WELL! (PLEASE PASS THAT MESSAGE ON TO BUYING OF THESE STORES)

    3) SOME DESIGN OF YOURS INCLUDES “SKINNY” JEANS….

    MY QUESTION TO YOU IS, “DOESN’T THAT STYLE ACCENT THE HIPS GIVING THE LARGE HIP PERSON A TOP HEAVY RECTANGLE SHAPE?’

    I LOVE “SOMETHING DIFFERENT” IN CLOTHING THAT MAKES ME FEEL SLIMMER AND BEAUTIFUL!

    I WAS HOPING YOUR DESIGNS AND FABRICS WERE FOR “REAL” PEOPLE, LIKE ME!

    EG: LARGER FABRIC CONTENT OF NATURAL “GREEN” MATERIALS (100% OR MIXES OF SEVERAL NATURAL) WITH A SMALL AMOUNT (5%) OF LINEN, SILK, SPANDEX AND EVEN SOME RAYON

    I’D BE VERY INTERESTED IN HEARING YOUR REPLY

    THANK YOU

    SAMANTHA

  5. Amazing clothes, amazing pictures. Great interview! That red dress is crazy gorgeous. And I’m automatically in love with any clothing line inspired by the phoenix. So hot. Thanks for the great information! Good luck, Jessica! I’m sure you’ll be international soon!

  6. Great feature and even more so AMAZING collection. As a stylist and writer I look forward to seeing more of what Ms. Biffi has to offer the plus size community. Keep thriving!

    Life, Adventure & the Pursuit of FASHION®
    Tina Sánchez
    Stylist│ Blogger│ Model

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