"I was always a rebel. I didn't dress up my dolls as a kid; I was more likely to build a fort in the woods."
Born and raised in New Jersey, educated in Paris, Gail Chovan gave up a career in academia when she switched from French literature studies at the Sorbonne to clothing design at Esmod. She went on to work with other independent fashion designers in Paris, and eventually launched her own clothing line.
Returning to the States, Chovan opened her boutique, Blackmail, in 1997 and quickly became known for her avant garde style and award-winning window displays. The boutique/atelier occupies a mercantile storefront constructed in 1889; in it, Chovan has created a niche for herself that harkens to a different time and world view, with an appreciation for quality workmanship, non-industrialization, and the beauty found in imperfection.
Chovan is an actively engaged in the fashion business, not only as a designer–participating in Gen Art, and recently being awarded Best Fashion Designer in Austin–but also as an educator: she has been a mentor for the University of Texas Department of Textiles and Apparel for the past decade, and recently returned to the Sorbonne in Paris to teach a course in Fashion and Design. However, in her own design work and shows, Chovan refuses to adhere to the trends, rules, or calendar of the fashion industry.
Her clothing designs are recognized and collected worldwide by discerning customers who appreciate the artisanal approach of her couture, as well as the often-dark color palette. Her creations are produced on-site in the atelier, and are either limited edition pieces or one-of-a-kind works.
Gail Chovan lives and works in Austin, Texas with her husband, the artist Evan Voyles and their twin children: Creed & Zelda.