Interviewing Fashion Designer Hilary MacMillan

IMG_2856

The Spring/Summer collection presented by Hilary MacMillan at World MasterCard Fashion Week brought back the contemporary-bohemian vibe of the ’70s.

Since she’s one of our favourite designers we spotted during WMCFW, Novella visited Hilary’s studio last week to chat about the Canadian fashion industry and why fashion has yet to be viewed as an art form in our country.

Novella: What is Fashion Week for you?

Hillary MacMillan: Fashion Week is mainly about media exposure, so I think it’s a way to get people to recognize you and get brand recognition. For me, it’s about trying to get your name out there.

N: So, Fashion Week is important for designers because it’s the most powerful platform to get that visibility within the fashion industry?

H.M.: Yes, I think so and also I think it’s a good way to get feedback from your customers and people.

N: How do you prepare a collection that is going to be showcased during Fashion Week, as opposed to preparing a collection that is just for a boutique?

H.M.: You have to finish your collection three months before Fashion Week starts, and you add certain pieces that are more special, more attention-grabbing. These pieces are designed to make your name stand out.

IMG_2859

N: The way to present fashion collections is changing. Designers are considering other formats besides runway shows to showcase their collections. Where do you think is this going? Have you considered other different and more creative formats to present your designs?

H.M.: I haven’t considered other formats yet, but I’m sure I will eventually! I guess Fashion Week is easy in terms of the event organization, because as a designer you don’t have to deal with that part.

N: What happens after Fashion Week?

H.M.: Immediately after there is a whole bunch of interviews and social media work. Then I always try to rest for a couple of days before going back to work. I think it’s very important to take some time off because Fashion Week is just crazy.

N: How do you feel once you take your bow at the end of a runway show?

H.M.: It’s like a feeling of relief — and it’s also a little bit scary because you don’t know how people are going to respond to the collection, if they liked it or not.

N: Is there any competitiveness among fashion designers during Fashion Week? Especially the day that you are showcasing your collection, are you paying attention to other designers’ shows?

H.M.: I definitely look at other designers’ collections, shows and social media to see what they’ve done — but it’s not a negative competitiveness. I’m very proud of all our Canadian designers, of course, being one of them!

Of course it is competitive because, at the end of the day, you want to do well but the atmosphere backstage with other designers is very positive. If we bumped into each other backstage they wish me good luck and I wish them good luck too, and everyone is excited and happy!

IMG_2860

N: As a fashion designer who is able to read fashion and look at it beyond what’s on the surface, how would you define fashion?

H.M.: For me, fashion is a wearable art form. Everyday we make a choice on what we want to wear and that’s how the world is going to see us that day. Whether is conscious or unconscious, you are making those choices everyday. As a designer I think about fashion from this perspective, and that’s why I put so much thought and work into my designs. You have to do a lot of trend forecasting, sourcing different fabrics, etcetera, so during those six months there is a lot of work that goes in each collection.

What message is your customer trying to tell to the world by wearing your designs?

H.M: So, my customer is an urban, modern woman so she wants something that fits well, and at the same time, something that is a little bit outside of the box. She is fun and adventurous and wants to tell this to the world through the way she looks.

IMG_2866

In Toronto we have so many talented designers here but sometimes it is very hard for them to get visibility and get there so most of them they end up leaving Canada. What are we doing wrong or not doing at all? Do you think there is more support and opportunities for fashion designers outside of our borders?

H.M: I think we should definitely invest more locally. There are not a lot of trade shows in Canada so everyone has to go to New York, or Paris or London. Having a some central Canadian trade shows would be great, especially because we are such a large country so even showing your collections inside of Canada is nearly impossible and very expensive.

Also, we need government funding because there is nothing, literally, for fashion because isn’t considered part of the art industry. For example, in the States Zac Posen did an event at the White House with Michelle Obama and that is a great to support their home talent because if the government gets involved, also the rest of the people look at fashion as a serious business and real art form instead of something just fun and frivolous.

What is the colour of Toronto?

H.M: I would say blue because it’s a very sunny city even when it’s freezing cold, and also because we have a big beautiful lake.

IMG_2869

About Her Debut At WMCFW – Jacqueline Piron

IMG_9715

This past season Jacqueline Piron debuted at World MasterCard Fashion Week with an entire collection of  luxury t-shirts inspired by the rocker spirit from the streets of London.

As passion and obsession always go together, Jackie spends every minute of her time trying to come up with the perfect t-shirt. She truly believes that the right neckline, a proper sleeve length and the best quality on the materials and fabrics, can transform a basic t-shirt into a ‘luxury staple piece’ as she specifies.

I had the pleasure to seat with this fun and lovely young designer to discuss her first time showcasing at fashion week and why social media is playing a crucial role in her business.

This year was your debut at WMCFW, how was this experience for you?

J.P: It was incredible! It was a combination of very scary, very exciting and a lot of work. I don’t think people realize that forth months of work goes into a twelve-minutes long show. However, to see the reaction that everybody had and feel the support at the end, that was just amazing!

What differentiates putting together a collection for a fashion show versus a collection that is not going to be showcased in fashion week?

J.P: Whenever you are going to showcase in fashion week, you always have to have looks that not always are financially attainable or would not make a lot of sense for someone to wear on the streets, but you need them to attract attention. Also, you need these pieces for stylists to pick them for editorials because they pop up on camera.

What was the most challenging part? What kind of fears and ghosts you had to face when preparing this collection?

J.P: This year, I introduce a lot of accessories with the t-shirts and I wasn’t sure how people were going to respond to that. I was worry about this because I didn’t know if, for example, people were going to like the leather pieces, the organza pieces, etc. Luckily they did so it was a lot of fun!

IMG_9685

In order to make that happened, I’m assuming you worked with a team that helped you putting everything together. How did you recruit this group of people?

J.P: I have to say that during fashion week I had a really great team. I worked with Peter Papapetrou who is a very well known stylist across Canada and used to do Giambattista Valli runway shows. I feel so lucky that I got to work with him because he was able to help and guide and it was very important for me to have someone who had done that before.

For the model casting, Peter was also very helpful because we want to have very pretty girls and girls that were short of relatable. And hair and make up is usually run by fashion week so you have a lot of meetings to discuss whatever you want to project, but you don’t have to be the one hiring these people. You have a few meetings a couple of weeks before fashion week and then, when you get there three hours before your show you can supervise everything and most of the times to do minor changes.

How was the atmosphere of the backstage right before the show, and after?

J.P: Behind the scenes it is chaos! Things are flying, people are screaming to each other. I remember this guy who came to me and said ‘I have to tell you that now I’m nice but what’s going to happen within the next three hours, I’m not responsible of what I say or my behaviour. It might not be pretty but I promise the show is going to be great’. There is a lot of pressure because there are so many people backstage trying to make this work. We had three stylists working on the looks, a group of twelve PR people who are in charge of all the seating and lights, a couple of seamstresses, twenty-one models, hair and makeup, etc. Plus, people are emailing you up to the last minute saying things like: ‘Hey! My friends are coming, can we get some extra tickets?’

When the show was about to be done and I was backstage, I was fearing my wave at the end. They told me that I had to walk till the middle if you want a good picture of yourself and also to let people seeing you. The only thing that I kept thinking all the time was ‘don’t trip, don’t trip, don’t trip!’ because that night we also had a lot of celebrities on the front row.

IMG_9664

I’m sure there are a lot of people who wonder what happens with the pieces that fashion designers showcase on the runway. Are all specifically made just for the show, are they sample pieces, or these pieces will be available for customers in boutiques right after the show?

J.P: They are sample pieces so you use them to meet with the buyers and they basically go through your rack to pick whatever they like to buy. For us, this season we had this trunk show so people could order directly from the runway look.

Also, I can sell the sample pieces depending on who contacts us because all of them are an extra-small so, if that is your size you can absolutely get the sample piece!

What happens after fashion week? What did you do once you had to wrap everything up and go home? Did you take some days off to rest or went immediately back to work?

J.P: Well, as much as I want to say that I took the Saturday off, it was just me and my PJ’s with a movie on the background responding to all the social media. For me social media it is really important so, anytime someone do a mention on me or post a picture I want to make sure that I show my gratitude to them and acknowledge their support so I try to respond to everything.

After fashion week there is also a lot of media interviews and I was getting set up my feature on British VOGUE so I’ve been pretty busy!

IMG_9644

So, social media is really important for you, right? How has this impacted in your business?

J.P: I always like to take advice from people around me. If people can help me in anyway, I’m listening and taking all of their comments. Social media is a super powerful tool and a great source to get feedback from my customers because they are essentially the ones buying my product.

As for me, I have to say that I’m very happy because, so far, I have received no negative feedback at all about any of my pieces.

Here in Canada we have so much talent and emerging designers that work really hard to get a spot in the fashion industry. However, it is very difficult especially for young up-and-coming designers to get there because Canada is still a very inexperienced country when it comes to fashion. What do you think we need to work on and improve in order to, eventually, become the next NYC, London, Paris or Milan?

J.P: First of all, I think the fact that here we don’t have as much population as, for example, in the States it is a crucial factor. However, I think what we should be focusing on is on trying to support each other. Novella Magazine is one of the few publications that actually support local talent, versus most of the publications that don’t do that and if they do is once in a blue moon! They rather feature Dior or Chanel because it is an easier sell.

What is your ultimate goal as a fashion designer?

J.P: I want to focus on doing high quality t-shirts really well. I would like to be able to create the perfect t-shirt.

What is the flavour of your SS16 collection?

J.P: I would say it is an Oreo cupcake with a very thick icing and half of an Oreo cookie on the top. The color palette fits perfectly and I would like this collection to have a sweet yet not cheesy flavour. Plus, I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like an Oreo!

IMG_9714

 Photos By Michelle Nunes

Please, No More Clubs: Your Best Options This Halloween

grandbudapesthotel-10

Halloween is fast approaching, and this year, it’s on a Saturday, which means that it will essentially take over your weekend. If you don’t feel like battling a slew of humans on King Street to force your way into an overcrowded club, fear not. I have compiled a list of things I would rather be, and most likely will be, doing. Here’s your Halloween 101 if you don’t want to be downtown.

1) The Grandstone Budapest Hotel : The Gladstone Hotel will transform itself into Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. You are encouraged to dress up as your favourite Wes Anderson character, and be sure to keep your eyes open for live performances throughout the hotel. Of course, Zero the lobby boy will be there, with Gustave to greet you at the front door, and the hotel has partnered with Glory Hole Donuts to create their own Mendl’s Patisserie. Count me in for this.

Where: The Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen Street West

2) Back To Church : Church Street will be closed and filled with the blood, guts, and gore of Torontonians. CHURCH on Church Street is hosting Back To Church, featuring DJ Liam Skinner and DJ Delicious, with a $100 prize for best costume.

Where: CHURCH on Church, 504 Church Street

Psycho (1960) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock Shown: Janet Leigh (as Marion Crane)

3) Psycho at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra : This is your chance to experience Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho like never before. The TSO will screen the thriller classic, while performing spooky live Bernard Herrmann’s iconic score in real time.

Where: Toronto Symphony Orchestra, 212 King Street West

4) The Haunted Amsterdam BrewHouse : Oh man, if I didn’t already love Amsterdam, this really did it for me. They are turning their entire 14 000 square foot brewhouse into a haunted house. WHAT?! They are also bringing pizza and live entertainers, so this is a no brainer.

Where: 245 Queens Quay West

jam-factory-web

5) Ghost Hole VII : If you don’t know what a ghost hole is, don’t feel bad, neither did I. A ghost hole is an unexplained event that occurs in an area of high paranormal activity. Scary right? This year, Ghost Hole 7 explores the old Jam Factory, a vacant building in the east end, rich in history, that will be illuminated by artists as they bring it back to life.

Where: Jam Factory Co., 2 Matilda Street

Fashion Week Survival Guide

clochet-streetstyle-outfit-paris-fashion-week-helena-bordon-Olympia-le-tan-book-clutch
Photo Credit: Clochet.com

With Toronto’s World Master Card Fashion Week starting on Monday, October 19th, it’s only fitting that all of the fashion influencers in Toronto need to get into the mood for a full week of fashion, parties, and everything in between.

While designers, models and stylists get ready to hit the runway to showcase their Spring/Summer 2016 collections, we too, the show goers, also have to get ourselves prepared for the week-long fashionable festivities that are ahead. Leading up to the big event that is World Master Card Fashion Week, we’re supplying you with a fashion week survival checklist to help you get ready for the busy week.

From food, to tech and beauty, consider this as your fashion week go-to. So get your pen and notepad ready and start checking off these fashion week essentials.

1) Charged and Ready to Go!

The one thing to get under your skin as you hop from show-to-show is a dead or dying phone. The key to a successful fashion week is staying up-to-date on the happing’s on and off the runway via social media or simply connecting with friends. In order to do so, having a fully charged phone is always essential. Therefore, investing in a good and durable portable phone charger is a must!

Its compact size makes it easy to travel in a small clutch and its light weight accessible so it won’t weight down your bag of choice. Charging your portable charger is simple. By plugging the USB port onto your computer overnight, your portable charger will be ready and set to go in the morning, and will be with you as you go through your day.

Powerocks portable chargers are compatible with iPhone and Androids, have a built in flashlight, which is great for finding your favourite lipstick caught at the bottom of your purse; and come in different styles and colours to best suit you and your device.

Having a portable charger toting around town with you this coming fashion week will definitely be a survival tool that you cannot leave the house without. Missing out on that eye-popping dress on the runway, or capturing that exclusive behind the scene photo won’t be passed up due to a dying or dead phone this season with a portable charger.

6a010535fde333970c019b0468cb2c970d

2) Picture Perfect Pout

Not only does your outfit have to be camera worthy to make the page of a fashion blog or front page of the morning paper, but your makeup also has to be able to brace the ever changing Toronto weather, as well as play a part of your fashion week attire.

Without a doubt lipstick is, and always has been, a huge fashion accessory in itself. With the amount of colours, textures, and brands that lipstick come in it’s hard to choose which pout to rock during a busy day. The perfect lip colour can accentuate any outfit and easily make your attire a hit or miss. Switching up your daily routine lip colour during World Master Card Fashion Week would be ideal to pay and experiment with bold, eye catching colours to gravitate the street style photographers your way.

Making its Toronto debut on the fashionable Queen Street West strip, NYX Cosmetics have a renowned reputation around North America for long pasting lipsticks and luster formulas that will have your pout be seen from a mile away. And with the birth of their first Toronto stand-alone store opening late this month, attaining the latest lip colour for the changing seasons can be done at a one-stop-shop. Also catering to all types of makeup catered to give you an A-list look, NYX Cosmetics is a must have to every woman’s every growing makeup bag.

Having that one, or two, go-to lipstick in your purse this fashion week is an essential to have while on-the-go from show to show. Quick touch-ups are always needed to keep your lips looking full and camera ready. Don’t miss an opportunity to be featured on the latest style blog with your popping pout this season.

lipstick3) Don’t forget to snack before you chat!

Keeping the momentum going for what you will need to survive and thrive during Toronto’s World Master Card Fashion Week, this tip will have you and your stomach smiling.

Keeping yourself fed and hydrated is key for making it from show to show during the busy week. Skipping out on meals and snacks are not going to keep your energies up to enjoy the weeks shows in its entirety. Whether you and your friends decide to arrive to the tents early to grab food from the snack bar, or leave the tents early to grab dinner is always needed to stay fueled and ready for the day.

If you prefer to keep food on-the-go so you don’t miss a beat, keeping food in your bag is not a bad idea if you’re always in a snacking mood.

A light snack, like popcorn, is a great tummy filler while going from show to show. Toronto Popcorn has great popcorn creations that make buttered flavoured popcorn look boring. From their signature cupcake and cookies and cream flavours, to their vegan and gluten free popcorn recipes like Cajun flavoured and sweet chili, Toronto Popcorn will give your taste buds a kick to substitute this traditional light snack.

Don’t forget to drink water! Keeping yourself hydrated during this busy season is needed when dashing around town. Not only a refreshing thirst quencher after your taste buds have been shocked by gourmet popcorn, but also a great way to give your skin a healthy glow. And what a great way to get healthy skin by just drinking something that’s good for you.

Keeping yourself fed and hydrated this coming fashion week is key to a successful week. If your tummy is happy, you will be too, and who doesn’t want to see a happy fashionista strut her stuff for the street style photographers?

Kensington-Market-Toronto-Popcorn-Company

 

Long Story Short: 7 Questions with a Short Story Author

Hot on the heels of the release of her first short story collection Moving Parts, Toronto author Lana Pesch maps out the movements that led her here

Toronto-based author Lana Pesch
Toronto-based author Lana Pesch

Q: What sparked the concept for this collection?

A: To be honest, I wasn’t really focused on a collection. I was just writing stories, and they started to add up. I worked closely with [Scotiabank Giller Prize nominee] Sarah Selecky. I was like, “Okay, I have 10 stories here and I don’t know what to do with them,” and she said, “What we have here is the making of a collection.” So I worked with her to hone them down.

Q: Moving Parts “draws back the curtain on what it means to be human.” This may be asking for a spoiler, but what does being human mean to you?

A: I think primarily the flawed part of us, and the failures, and what is learned by failing. I’ve failed numerous times repeatedly — and keep doing so — and I think it’s really healthy. A lot of people see that failing is a bad thing, but I really don’t.

Q: Care to share a failure or two of your own?

A: My first marriage, probably, there’s one [laughs]. Not that I regret it, but it ended in divorce, so that’s how that story goes. I’m not entirely sure the job that I’m in currently was a wise choice. Financially I’ve made some poor choices, took up skydiving as a hobby. But there are pros and cons to everything, right?

“Moving Parts,” Lana Pesch’s first collection of short stories

 

Q: You’ve compared skydiving to writing, saying they both require courage, trust, discipline. You also have a history in theatre, and one could draw the same parallels there.

A: Yeah. In theatre especially, it’s a very vulnerable thing to do. I haven’t done it in years, and god, I’m much more comfortable jumping out of an aircraft than standing up in front of an audience. Isn’t public speaking the most feared thing? That and the dentist or something? But yeah, definitely parallels there, with the courage, confidence and trust in your own ability. That’s what writing is, too.

Q: You’re a traveler. How have your adventures impacted your writing?

A: The travel does definitely colour the writing. I think it’s a great tool to have those experiences, [to] just remember colours, food, a place, rooms. Somewhere, sometime, they can be the initial start that grows.

A: Do you feel you’re working towards or against traditional CanLit?

Lisa Moore wrote a great article in [the] Walrus about a new wave of CanLit short story writers, people that are going against the grain, and I would put myself in that camp. I guess it’s just being a bit more edgy, a bit more unapologetic.

Q: What does being unapologetic mean to you?

A: I’m not sugar coating anything, I’m not shying away from difficult subjects that I’m curious about. It’s not always a happy ending, but I always try and get some comedy in there, because I find that’s one of my own coping mechanisms for dealing with things that are difficult. I think it’s part of the balance of life.