Lisa Wolfin, Biography

Born in Vancouver, Wolfin’s childhood was spent largely in art classes, and outdoors tending to roadside stands selling the products of her budding creativity: candles, jewelry, you name it. Throughout her school years, she continuously won awards for her art; and smoothly transitioned to fashion design from high school. Moving to Los Angeles at the age of 17, she attended FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) in L.A. Here she was recipient of the “most creative design” award, given by a panel judges which included the iconic costume designer Bob Mackie.

Fashions of her own designs sold in southern California during this period in her career, but it was not until the top 20 students at FIDM were invited for lunch in L.A. with Christian Dior head designer Marc Bohan that Lisa decided that she was heading to Paris to the centre of the fashion world.

On a roller coaster ride, but with self-described “tunnel vision” and great determination, Wolfin made her way to Dior in Paris where she worked as an apprentice. Back in Vancouver, she started Wear Wolfin Designs, building her fashion business and distributing to over 100 stores across Canada and the U.S. Clothing designs were a result of Wolfin’s own aesthetic and a certain clairvoyance; pre-Madonna bustiers were a staple of the Wear Wolfin line. She sourced specialized fabric from places such as Interstoff, the largest fabric trade show in the world, in Frankfurt. The business continued to grow until she needed the flexibility to raise her three children and be an active and constant presence in their lives.

Wolfin could now continue her art career which had started earlier when she had painted on silk scarves and sold these in front of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Her pencil sketches were displayed and sold outside the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem during her stay in Israel.

To her fashion model drawings, Wolfin had always been tempted to add faces to the traditional faceless sketches, so it wasn’t a huge leap to portrait painting. Soon she was receiving commissions for portraits and other works, and exhibiting in small art shows.

Living in West Vancouver, Wolfin saw opportunity yet again. With corridors of blank walls at the Hollyburn Country Club, her artistic and entrepreneurial spirit saw a wonderful chance to market art and improve underutilized spaces. So six years ago, after putting together a proposal to get art onto the walls of the country club, Wolfin happily took on the curatorship when asked. Once the spaces on the walls were filled, the business of selling the displayed artwork progressively grew. Artist receptions have added to the buzz and her curatorship has been well received.

Wolfin constantly kept tabs on the international art scene by travelling to galleries in North America, Europe and Asia. Whether at an international art fair in New York, Paris, L.A. or Art Basel Miami, Wolfin has had a chance to see much of the most fascinating art work on the planet.

ast forward to the present and when Wolfin’s husband Matt opens an office in Toronto, she is visiting frequently and while there, attending art fairs. The next step is to bring Vancouver’s art scene into line with cities she has visited, and the convention centre venue beckons.

Art! Vancouver is that next step. With her amazing enthusiasm, her energy and encouragement, the road ahead has magically appeared. Wolfin has amassed a plethora of artists from around the globe for the first annual Art! Vancouver show in May. But Wolfin’s background in fashion design is ingrained and triumphant: opening night will feature a runway show with Art! Vancouver artists and their art work reminiscent of those Parisian fashion show days. It’s always great when you can put a face to the art.