As Vice President/ Creative Director of DDB’s Edmonton office – an international advertising agency with 207 offices in 95 countries – Eva Polis knows what it means to be a brand.
When asked to describe her own, she says “sartorial risk-taker with a side of man repeller.” To fashion insiders, the term “man repeller” is colloquial (a reference to a popular American fashion blog of the same title), and there’s nothing negative about it. Rather, there’s a sense of independence and an element of trailblazing when a woman dresses for herself, rather than to please others.
Being in the vanguard of style might be perceived as a by-product of the advertising industry; after all, clients rely on Polis to design cutting edge marketing campaigns. To those that don’t fully understand what that means, she’s inclined to mention Mad Men: “I’m the female Don Draper, minus the smoking, day drinking and affairs. As a female in the ad industry, I would like to think I am as kick-ass as the fictional Peggy Olson.”
But Polis has always been particular about clothes. “My mom said that one year, when I was little, I would only wear red, or only wear pink,” she says. “I guess I never felt a need to be part of any group. I thought it was OK to just be you. It’s not meaning to be different. It’s just to be you. I don’t think I really fall into the trap of trends.”
Known for her black, blunt-cut bangs (she goes to the aptly titled hair salon, Icon, in Commerce Place); a statement-making and sometimes illogical sense of style (she owns a pair of studded Balmain pants that weigh what, to her, feels like 10 lbs.); and an enthusiasm for good hygiene (in place of shaking hands, she prefers to bump elbows); Polis breaks down some daily routines, her closet highlights and redefines what it means to travel in style.
What’s your typical office outfit?
I do like to wear pants at work, because I think better in pants. I think it’s just easier, because dresses are great, but I don’t like things to be fussy. I think when it’s fussy, particularly when you’re trying to think, you’re more focused on the garment.
What’s your creative process?
I think it’s always about looking to make connections, being open to what’s in the world, reading, experiencing life. I don’t think it’s looking at what other people have done, because if you’re looking at what other people have done, you’re not really being creative. Similar to fashion, if you look at a mannequin and think it looks really great, and you pick that exact outfit – it might look great, but have you added anything of your own personal style to it? Collaborating is really important too. Sharing ideas. Having time to set the ideas aside and having time to come back to them is really important. Going for walks – when you’re moving and not just sitting. Sitting isn’t necessarily the best for ideation. And I think that’s a really cool aspect of what we do. It’s kind of a blessing and a curse. You’re always thinking. You don’t start work at eight o’clock. An idea can come at any time.
Where do you shop?
Net-a-porter. I’m loving the brand, Vetements, right now. Simons – I think it’s a great addition to our city. I love their Collections section. I think every season there’s something great, and I think every season they take a few risks with things you normally wouldn’t see [in Edmonton]. And Nordstrom. And Holts [Holt Renfrew]. And vintage.
What Edmonton event do you look forward to dressing up to attend?
I think Art On the Block at the Art Gallery of Alberta is a really great event to wear something special. I think the collection of people that show up there is really inspired. It’s this really great group of individuals with really nice style, and everyone comes with their own take [on fashion]. It’s not costume-y, it’s just good taste.
What item do you never leave home without?
My gloves. I just think they finish an outfit – summer gloves, winter gloves. Angela at Swish Vintage [in Manulife Place] has some amazing summer gloves. I got some Dries van Noten gloves at Simons, and they’re beautiful. And lipstick. Bright lipstick, because otherwise I’m one colour. I like colour. Sunglasses. You know, I think I’d choose sunglasses over gloves. How could I say gloves over my Chlo sunglasses? They are unique, and they’re pretty big – so, I like that people take the time to say they love them, because they are a little unusual. I would choose lipstick, then my Chlo sunglass, then gloves.
Do you have any style rules?
Don’t look like Madonna at the 2017 Met Gala, unless you are trying to look like Madonna at the 2017 Met Gala. Don’t try too hard and come across as desperate. Dress for the occasion is my number-one rule.
What do you wear on an airplane?
I love travelling in the winter, because I have a Max Mara coat that’s eight years old and counting. Holt Renfrew probably regrets the day they sold me that coat, because I haven’t bought a coat since. It has a huge hood, and it’s washable. It’s lightweight enough, but warm enough, and when you put the hood out, it’s like your own little space. So, if you want to be left alone, or you’re sleeping, it’s kind of like instant privacy. What I’d wear in New York, I probably wouldn’t wear in Paris or in London. I like that each city is different and you can have your own take on fashion in that city.
What are the favourite pieces in your closet?
The pieces I own that have a great story. The vintage wool Missoni coat I had to purchase in Austin because it was cold. My Marc Jacobs feather headband because it flew home in a hatbox in business class, while I sat in reality. My Christian Louboutin Black Bison Hair Bag I named after my beloved Shih Tzu, Muffy, and that I’ve only rocked once in Paris. And my Sylvia Soo Kinsley Kat bag that my kids gave me and looks like my current dogs, affenpinschers Maccha-T and Twiggy.
Pastime – Collecting steps
Hang-out spot – My mind
Local restaurant – kb&co
Local salons – Icon in Edmonton and Hedkandi in Calgary
Drink – Organic Ceremonial Matcha Tea
Magazines – Vogue Paris and Tatler
Films – Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and The Grand Budapest Hotel
TV Shows – Justified and Ballers
Local Boutique – Swish Vintage
Designer/Brand – Any brand that makes me look good. I have some amazing pieces from Joseph Altuzarra’s Target Collection that you would never know were only $99
Lipstick – Serge Lutens from Barneys
Perfumes – Depends on my mood and occasion, but includes Apoteker Tepe, Le Labo Rose 31 and Chanel No. 22
City to Travel To – Any city with a great hotel. For me a hotel is everything. Fogo Island is on my list!