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      Amabile Fashions sets up shop

      Sep. 24, 2013

      The duo behind Amabile Fashions – designer Amabile Cantisani and artist Frank Caracciolo – were ready to call it quits. After five years of working out of their individual home offices, they both realized that Amabile Fashions needed a home base in order to prosper. But finding a suitable (and affordable) space was proving difficult. And they were starting to give up.

      “We were down and out. It was just a bad time. We knew that the company just wouldn’t grow without a space,” Cantisani explains.

      This past June, the duo happened to drive by a “for rent” sign in Ville St Laurent’s Industrial Park. They called the owner and within the hour were visiting the space. Within the week they had the keys, and in two months time transferred an industrial garage space into an atelier and showroom.

      “It’s a gift to have a space like this. We’ve been through a lot and I think the focus is really clear now,” Caracciolo explains.

      “Working in this space is so much easier. It flows. It’s faster. It’s more efficient,” Cantisani continues.

      Perhaps there is something to working side by side in the right environment. For the first time in five years, Amabile Fashions is on schedule with its next collection.

      The Spring 2014 collection – entitled Remember Me – includes a regular line, a plus size line and a Candy Pillows home collection line.

      Cantisani and Caracciolo first met at an art exhibit of Caracciolo’s works. Cantisani was immediately struck by Caracciolo’s abstract take on colors and patterns. Soon after they began to discuss a possible collaboration, which would come in the form of a silk scarf featuring one of Caracciolo’s paintings.

      “That was in 2008. That year I was really into scarves,” Cantisani fondly recalls.

      When Amabile Fashions came to be, Cantisani was coming out of a 10-year hiatus from the fashion industry. She had taken a break from her career to raise her children. Caracciolo wasn’t necessarily looking for a new business venture, but the concept behind Amabile Fashions was an ideal extension of his artistic expression.

      The process behind the unique Amabile Fashions collection starts with Cantisani choosing a finished Caracciolo painting. From there she will choose the fabric, scan the painting as a digital file, and then send everything to the printer.

      When the printed fabric comes back, Cantisani begins to position the patterns and cut the fabric. Each single piece in the collection inevitably becomes a unique design, as all the fabric is cut and sewn by hand. No two cuts will ever feature the exact same pattern. And so no two pieces will be identical.

      Since their first silk scarf, the collection has expanded to include different fabrics, including denim, and a whole line of clothing.

      “Seeing a model wearing the clothes is the best part of the process for me. It’s when you realize that your painting is now that incredible piece,” Caracciolo comments.

      “I’m never nervous about what Amabile will create with my painting. But I never know what she’ll make,” he adds.

      “What Frank doesn’t realize is that what he creates will influence the next trend,” Caracciolo adds.

      “I’ve trained my eye to look at Frank’s paintings blown up and repeated. I can already imagine the finished garment,” she continues.

      “Frank doesn’t know it, but the whole Fall line is already done in my head.”

      Amabile Fashions proudly keeps to its “Made in Canada” label.

      “We believe in supporting local entrepreneurs. And we hope that they’ll do the same with us,” Cantisani comments.

      Fabrics are purchased from local distributors, the printing in done in Toronto, and the entire clothing line is designed and created in Montreal’s Ville St Laurent district.

      Their DIY attitude goes beyond the collection. Cantisani and Caracciolo are hands on in all aspects of the company, from renovating the new space, to shooting the promotional photos, to making the business deals.

      The Candy Pillow collection is Amabile Fashion’s newest venture, a venture five years in the making. Cantisani confesses that since the start of their collaboration she has not thrown out one piece of fabric.

      “I kept creating bags and bags of everything, every little piece. Almost hoarding,” she muses.

      “I kept saying that I’ll use it. I knew eventually those scrap pieces would come in handy,” she continues.

      And she was right. The pillows feature pieces and cutaways from various collections, thus making each pillow a unique design. Even the pillow stuffing is made using those pieces of fabric too small to be used elsewhere.

      “I have the easy part. I don’t have to think. I just paint. Amabile has to create a vision,” Caracciolo comments.

      The Amabile Fashions showroom is open by appointment only. To learn more about Amabile Fashions, please visit

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