Amy Shio is a Toronto-based mixed-media artist, stylist, and founder of Les Best
. Her paintings have a spontaneous element of joy in their palette and brushstrokes, that very much feel like an extension of herself.
Amy has an innate style that pulls from high-end luxury, to archival vintage, always with a playful accessory mixed in. Her fun, laissez-fare approach to life and style has us, as her audience, always wanting more.
VSP chats with Amy about her artistic influences, her favourite designers, and how she acquired the ever elusive Yves Saint Laurent cage boot.
Among artists, I have so many. What is interesting is as these artists influence me, none of their work is anything like mine. The medium they use varies, from photography, to typography, to pop art, to installations. The scale of their work varies as well, but the thread that holds them together in my mind and why I admire them is their clear direction. Their voice, political stances on gender, race and even in some cases call out culture—It's a stance, and [I admire] what their work in the world provokes among its observer. This draws me to the artists that influence me in my art.
- French artist, Yves Klein
- French urban street artist, Invader
- America artist, Nina Chanel Abney
- Desi Canadian pop artist, Hatecopy! (Maria Qamar)
- Australian scribble artist + installations, CJ Hendry
- American Light and Space artist, James Turrell
- Chinese contemporary artist and activist, Ai Weiwei
- American photographer and filmmaker, Laurie Simmons
On the question of what are my influences, I feel that my mood plays a huge factor on what I'm painting and how I'm painting, the colours I use and the type of brush strokes that strike the canvas.
What does your process usually look like?
There isn't one. I rely heavily on my mood in what I create. Sometimes it can be a colour I'm obsessed with or a technique I've been wanting to apply or even the size of the canvas I've decided to work with. I never map out or sketch what I'm going to do before I do it. That might not be helpful to someone seeking advice from me, but my process or lack there of is not so neatly filed in my head, a little bit of an organized mess. One thing that is consistent though is that I listen to music when I create. Ranging from Summer Heart and Phoenix to Dr. Dre, Lauryn Hill, Solange
, Foxy Brown and a good old classic Diwali Riddim
. Recently, I started listening to binaural
beats and solfeggio
frequencies while I work and in general, it has a lot to do with neurotransmission. T
he state it puts your brain into functions along with a tonne of other health benefits like reverse aging, dermatitis relief, and a higher consciousness.You have such a playful approach to clothing, what are some of the most unique pieces you have in your collection?
It's funny, I'm a Pisces and we are ruled by our feet, something which as a runner (I have the worst feet) can attest to is a blessing and a curse. I love shoes. One of my unique pieces that I was sickly obsessed in finding were the YSL
Cage Boot (dated 2009). I first saw them on Queen Bey and knew I needed them. The story behind tracking them down was with the help of Alex, who at the time worked at Holt Renfrew
, and Kona
, who at the time was my boyfriend, and a sweet Beck Taxi ride (pre Uber
) all the way from downtown Toronto to Vaughan Mills as these shoes made it to Holt Renfrew
Last Call and the buyers only bought two in my size and one ended up there. They couldn't put it on hold, so on my "lunch break" (mind you there was no such thing as a lunch break in investment banking, where I worked at the time), I ended up making it there, and there I was buying these on my debit card. I'd like to say that it was totally worth it and I still love them so much. The SS RTW
2009 was designed by Stefano Pilati so
they also have the old YSL
logo in the instep and it's little things like this as a fashion collector that make it a standout in my closet.What kind of silhouettes are you drawn to when putting together a look?
I think just like my art, the silhouette I'm drawn to is very mood driven. Sometimes the mood calls for over-the-top, and oversized everything with minimal, stacked and very curated jewellery. Other times it's very refined with the addition of a big earring. I love earrings, and sometimes just starting off with a piece of jewellery in mind helps me build my overall look. My current favourite pair are these beautiful, sculptural white oversized Proenza Schouler
earrings reminiscent of the American sculptor, Alexander Calder's mobile artwork. I love playing with proportion, exaggeration and refinement. My style's consistent thread is that it pushes limits and doesn't necessarily follow the season's trend.Which designers have you followed throughout their careers at different houses? What are some pieces you're coveting the most this season?
I love Victoire de Castellane's
work. The start of her career, she worked with Karl Lagerfeld
in the costume jewellery design area for years. Her work is some of the vintage pieces that are so coveted and resold around the world. Its a true embodiment of what it is to do classic right and still have people lusting for it years and years later. She moved to Christian Dior
, where she's been since 1988 as Creative Director of the fine jewellery division. Her work at Dior is so playful, bold, quirky and silly all at the same time. Think sad, dying flowers, but in diamonds and other precious stones. Her work is excellent.
I've also love Thom Browne
and his career path. He graduated in economics, tried his hand at acting, worked in a showroom for Giorgio Armani
, did some creative development for Club Monaco all before launching his own successful namesake. It is a reminder in this day and age of wanting to see immediate results, that for Thom Browne, it didn't just happen overnight, and trusting in the process means more. He ended up launching his line, doing a Brooks Brothers Black Fleece line, started a women's collection and designed the Moncler Gamme Bleu
collection until very recently.
Another favourite of mine has always been Raf Simons. He was Women's Wear designer for Jil Sander
from 2005 - 2011, then at Dior from 2012 - 2015, (one of my most favourite times of the Christian Dior brand, paying homage to the house and adding his own quirk and twist). He ended up leaving to do the most amazing things with Calvin Klein from 2016 - 1018 with Calvin Klein 205W39NYC
line - again swerving from the classic approach and adding the Raf twist. What I love about his work, is that he is able to take a heritage
brand and update it. I am so happy that he is able to do god's work a.k.a. his own work at his namesake like Raf Simons, where he can just be himself. Sometimes big corporations aren't for all of us. Even through trial and error and trial and error, he never gave up.
This season I have my eye on a Raf Simons suit that has playful oversized pocketing, a pair of exaggerated half moon earrings by Y/Project and a utility belt by Fendi
.Tell us about some of your upcoming projects.
I'm currently working on some new art, adding to my collection "Pieces of Me", where I paint myself and or parts of me and plank on canvas. Maybe a solo show? The year is young! I'm also working with a few Canadian designers on a Les Best capsule collection and am working on a skincare solution for dermatitis, something I couldn't find in the market when I was dealing with it, so I decided to make my own concoction, and guess what? It works!