Beauty Meets Consciousness in ALEX AND ANI Designs

AA-B2B-BAILEYS-960X400

ALEX AND ANI is the next big thing in fashion accessories. The Coastal Odyssey collection has everything you need and more to complete any summer look, sporting some of the most uniquely colourful and breathtaking pieces of jewelry you will find this season.

AA_Summer_711A9896scaled AA_Summer_711A0423scaled AA_Summer_711A0386scaled

What is more, ALEX AND ANI is one of those companies that is striving to make a difference and is a company that you can feel good supporting. First and foremost, all ALEX AND ANI products are crafted in carefully considered U.S. factories and are therefore sweat-shop free and the materials utilized are “sustainable and derived from eco-conscious processes.”

“We create meaningful, eco-conscious jewelry and accessories to empower the light in you. We share a passion for the well-being of our planet, our communities, and our individual paths.”

AA_Summer_711A0412scaled AA_Summer_711A0359scaled AA_Summer_711A0438scaled

ALEX AND ANI embraces “the power of positive energy” as its core company belief. Not only is the jewelry produced in a way that is humanitarian, and economically and environmentally mindful, it also conveys through symbols and design, concepts of energy and meaning: “each design is positively intended to empower the wearer and reflect the unique qualities of the individual. Some pieces carry sentimental meaning; others are talismans of protection, power, or intention.” Ultimately, however, the wearer becomes the designer, in that you choose specific pieces to reflect your own ideologies.

AA_Summer_711A9876scaledAA_Summer_711A9862scaled

Finally, ALEX AND ANI is a Corporately Conscious company invested in a business model that takes into consideration “the wellbeing of the environment, the health of local and national economies, and the empowerment of customers.” And to top it all off, they believe on giving back: “we believe in the power of gratitude and giving.”

As part of their mission to spread positive energy through the world, ALEX AND ANI created CHARITY BY DESIGN and is involved in other outreach initiatives. CHARITY BY DESIGN channels resources “into the efforts of organizations that work to improve others’ quality of life.” The purpose behind CHARITY BY DESIGNS is to strengthen charitable organizations through amicable partnerships. CHARITY BY DESIGN “empowers a multitude of non-profit organizations on an international, national, and local level…from small foundations to national associations” and achieves this through in-store events, as well as through creating symbols and designs meant to raise awareness for specific causes. ALEX AND ANI is involved in philanthropy on a corporate level, but produces a platform for their consumers to also get involved with these charitable initiatives through their purchases.

cbd_support_hands

See the website for more designs and to get more information on the company: https://www.alexandani.com/

 

 

Published in Fusia magazine, May 2015

Highlights from Berlin Fashion Week

Contrary to some popular opinion within the global fashion world, German fashion is far from dead. Designers at this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Berlin (January show collections that thrive with vivid patterns and bold aesthetics; they breathe a very fresh breath of life.

Here are some of the best designs from Berlin Fashion Week 2015

 

Designer:

Dorothee Schumacher

Redefining business casual. In Dorothee Shumacher designs, you can go from meeting to meet-up in seamlessly and make a statement in a completely original way.

Dorothee Schumacher 1 Dorothee Schumacher 2 Dorothee Schumacher 3 Dorothee Schumacher 4 Dorothee Schumacher 5 Dorothee Schumacher 6 Dorothee Schumacher 7

Designer:

Kaviar Gauche

Fancifully playing with the wedding dress. Traditional meets tantalizing in some of these breathtaking designs.

Kaviar Gauche 1 Kaviar Gauche 2 Kaviar Gauche 3 Kaviar Gauche 4 Kaviar Gauche 5 Kaviar Gauche 6 Kaviar Gauche 7 Kaviar Gauche 8 Kaviar Gauche 9

Designer:

Holy Ghost

These looks all exhibit a chic city dweller. The collection thrives on layers and fashionable comfort.

holy ghost 1 holy ghost 2 holy ghost 3 holy ghost 4 holy ghost 5 holy ghost 6 holy ghost 7 holy ghost 8 holy ghost 9 holy ghost 10

Designer:

Nana K. Brenu

Some of the most memorable work of Berlin Fashion Week 2015, an impressive display of colour and bold symbols “influenced by the impact of the complex simplicity of the monochromatic geometric designs of traditional Ghanaian symbols,” yet remaining very original and modern. Nana K. Brenu’s design philosophy for 1981 “is based on the notion that design should reflect who you are, where you are from and where you have been. In other words clothes are the storytellers on the journey of our lives.”

DEU 1981, Maxhosa By Laduma, Soboye Show 1 DEU 1981, Maxhosa By Laduma, Soboye Show 2 DEU 1981, Maxhosa By Laduma, Soboye Show 3 DEU 1981, Maxhosa By Laduma, Soboye Show 4 DEU 1981, Maxhosa By Laduma, Soboye Show 5 DEU 1981, Maxhosa By Laduma, Soboye Show 6

Info and Photos sourced from http://mbfashionweek.com/berlin

 

Published in Fusia magazine January 2015

“From Paris with Love”! XO

From Paris with Love was a Trunk Show and Brunch Party held by POA Studio this past Sunday, Nov 9th at the Vintage Conservatory in Toronto. The Trunk Show was designed to offer valued clientele the opportunity to see all of the latest collection, all of which just arrived from Paris, before launching it in the store. The affair was intimate and featured limited edition fine scarves, exquisite jewelry, breath-taking hand bags, and absolutely stunning, one-of-a-kind clothing.

dress sweater&scarf

Love is indeed the operative word here, as I couldn’t help but fall in love with many of the beautiful pieces in this latest collection. The scarves and necklaces were the focal pieces of the collection, adorning walls and tables all over the venue and accompanying every article of clothing. Pieces ranged from delicate and understated to bold and gaudy; each one so unique and the perfect complimentary piece to ‘make’ an outfit.

clutch jewlery&scarves jewlery scarves scarves2 scarves3

Clothing included work by Designers and Brands: An’ge Paris, Egerie Paris, Show Girls Paris, Free for Humanity, Biscote, Oui, among others. My absolute favorite item that I fell in love with instantly was a sheer top in a leaf print with mixed media leather and crocheted shoulder and upper-back accents.  The material and pattern were so vibrant and lively and the mixed media elements were tastefully done and made the shirt pop. This elegant top could easily work casually with a pair of jeans or leggings or could be punched up to slightly more formal with a nice dress skirt or dress pants. The majority of the collection shared a similar versatility. From what I can tell, most POA collections cater to taste, quality, and versatility; their collections offer the most unique pieces that undoubtedly become focal elements to any wardrobe. There is certainly something to be said about having an item in your wardrobe that you absolutely love, that people always complement you on, and that almost no one else has.

top

As if the absolutely stunning clothing and accessories weren’t enough, the brunch presented was positively scrumptious. The tantalizing spread consisted of delectable croissants and macarons served from Delysées (http://delysees.com/ ) and a spread of cheeses, crackers, smoked salmon, and shrimp. Along with choices of juice, wine, and absolutely delicious coffee.

brunchtable cropped-delysees-logo-white-final-1-version

POA Studio really knows how to treat their clientele well. Not only offering preview events like this one, but the studio itself is much more than a retail store. POA Studio is both a spa and luxury fashion boutique. One trip to POA Studio will have you feeling beautiful inside and out, and isn’t that what it’s all about? I would encourage everyone to venture out to this one-of-a-kind boutique for a shopping experience that you can’t get anywhere else. POA Studio is located at 98 Church Street in Toronto. You can also check out their services and collections at http://www.poastudio.com/.

 

Published Nov 2014 in Fusia magazine

Mélissa Nepton Spring 2015 Runway Show, WMCFW

Mélissa Nepton is a Montreal designer who specializes in “modern, ready-to-wear couture that targets the urban career woman.” She studied and developed her craft at Marie-Victorin College, L’École supérieure de mode, Motreal, and L’École Nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Paris— where she presented her first runway show. In her World MasterCard Fashion Week Designer Bio, Mélissa recounts that:

“For me, fashion is a vigorous expression that impacts women’s lives in a positive way. And in return, women bring to fashion a sense of sensuality, fluidity and femininity. It’s a communication rooted in comfort, practicality and confidence.”

And indeed it is this sensuality, fluidity, and femininity that come to life in Mélissa’s work. Her Spring 2015 collection, shown this past Tuesday at 8pm, was full of life, vibrancy, and unique and exciting patterns. Her line featured a lot of squares and stripes, as well as off-quilter semi-rectangles that sort of link in a way which is really eye-catching. Most of her line is very casual, which speak to her notion of fashion being “rooted in comfort and practicality.” This level of comfort was emphasized with the extremely casual footwear, as most of the pieces made their debuts on the runway accompanied by low heeled or flat sandals and sneakers. The dresses were flirty, daytime wear, and the shirts, shorts, and pants were light and breezy; made for down-time and relaxation.

blue pink

Yet, that hint of feminity is in every piece, with flowing skirts, form flattering cuts and lines, staple low cut necklines and designs that flaunted exposed skin, serving to be both feminine and sensual. The colour palette was one of soft hues, not unexpected for spring, which were off-whites, pinks and blues, and beige. There were also some nice contrasting black and white pieces.

blackandwhite shorts

My favourite pieces were two fun and flirty dresses. The one was a beige and black dress with contrasting stripes. It had an inner halter top and shorts that was mid-thigh length and an outer top and skirt cover that draped to below the knees. The material was quite sheer, allowing each layer to show through, along with some strategic hints of flesh. The dress offered an element of sexiness, but was ultimately classy and captivating.

beige&black

The second dress was a flirty off-white striped sun dress with a plunging neck line. Again, the material was striped with opaque and sheer fabric, so that skin became a focal point. The skirt was a flowing A line and fell to just above the knee. Beneath the dress is a visible body suit that accents the feminine contours of the body, playing again on exposed skin around the legs and arms. Despite the plunging neckline, this dress emits a feeling of pretty and flirty instead of being overtly sexy or over the top.

white

Mélissa has a gift for merging contrasting notions and playing with lines, making her work very fresh and intriguing. Every piece in her collection is something that can be practically worn in day-to-day life but yet is something you know you would feel good wearing; that would help you beam with confidence and charisma. I can’t wait to include some of her amazing work into my own Spring 2015 wardrobe.

 

 

Photo and Designer Bio Source:

http://worldmastercardfashionweek.com/designer/melissa-nepton-2/#.VEelCvnF9yw

 

Published in Fusia magazine Oct 2014

Mixed Media is the Message

Stripes and sparkles, lines, lace, and leather; yes the 2013 GUESS Holiday Collection has been revealed to the press and will be arriving in stores between October and December.

GUESS_HolidayPressPreview_PhotoCreditTonyZhao_July10_2

The casual pieces of the holiday collection are displaying a lot of military inspired designs as well as a lot of denim shirts, jackets, and the traditional array of the staple GUESS jeans. The not so staple aspect of these jeans showing up in this year’s collection, however, is mixing denim textures and colours within a single item.  Although the jeans may physically consist of a single denim medium, their mixed look follows closely to the overall mixed media theme dominating the dressy/trendy portion of the collection. The casual collection also boasts a lot of knits with asymmetrical cuts, holes portraying a worn look, and lots of metallic beading accents. Overall the hues are light and soft in the casual coats, bags, and accessories – vintage soft pinks and beige/greys.

GUESS_HolidayPressPreview_PhotoCreditTonyZhao_July10_1

The accessories are prominent in the collection and inspiring. All of the leather accessories, footwear, and bags incorporate a lot of chains, buckles, and zippers – zippers are a very big part of the Guess holiday collection, specifically diagonal zipper placement – and we will be seeing a lot of black stone and gold accented jewelry. An impressive and elegant new set of watches is also being released with the Holiday Collection that will prove to be excellent Christmas gift items.

GUESS_HolidayPressPreview_PhotoCreditTonyZhao_July10_5

GUESS_HolidayPressPreview_PhotoCreditTonyZhao_July10_3

 

 

 

Within the dressy/trendy portion of the collection we are continuing to see a lot of peplum and lace inspired by last fall’s looks, as well as a lot of cocktail dresses incorporating sweetheart necklines with connecting sleeves and sheer overlay top portions; all of these sexy dress options display prominent open backs. In this part of the collection there are a lot of black, red, and white pieces, which is to be expected of a holiday collection, but all pieces reiterate the Holiday theme of sparkles, lines, and lace.

GUESS_HolidayPressPreview_PhotoCreditTonyZhao_July10_6

Ultimately the truly inspiring pieces or the “show-pieces” of this year’s Holiday Collection are without a doubt the jackets. It is within the jacket pieces that mixed media really becomes the message. My favorite piece was a black dress coat that was a mixed media piece incorporating a wool base with woolen sleeves and a leather front featuring multi-directional zipper accents. Aside from physical mixed media in the jackets, we are also seeing a lot of quilting on leather items. Much like the intertwined denim in the jeans in the casual and trendy portions, the multiple textures being picked up in the leather jackets once again bring home this mixed media theme.

Toronto-20130710-01013

Keep your interest piqued and your eyes open for some of these stunning new additions to the GUESS wardrobe; they are sure to inspire personal experimentation and will definitely turn heads.

GUESS_HolidayPressPreview_PhotoCreditTonyZhao_July10_4

 

Published in Fashion Weekly magazine August 2013.

The DHL Fashion Scholarship Competition

DHL lives up to its mantra that “DHL is a friend of fashion” by teaming up with George Brown College to hold its first “DHL Fashion Challenge” during this year’s World MasterCard Fashion Week. Students were asked to create unique couture creations from DHL shipping and packing materials, and the creativity, even within the confines of working with limited materials, was outstanding. The chosen finalist designs can all be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/DHLExpressCanada?v=app_177914495580579&rest=1.

The top 5 finalists displayed their designs during the DHL Fashion Industry Panel on Tuesday, October 22. The top 3 winners were chosen by industry experts and renowned designers on the panel. Aside from some very impressive monetary scholarships awarded to 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place finalists, the top three competitors also received mentorships or time working alongside some of the biggest names in fashion design. This particular scholarship opportunity offers what the DHL panel has deemed the most important assets for these future design entrepreneurs: the financial stability to follow their vision and the ability to learn their craft and about the industry from some of the most successful in the business. This is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity that will give these 3 aspiring artists a leg up on their current competition.

The top 5 student finalists were Nagalakshmi Deepak, Tristan Licud, Fatema Kneibei, Lola Awojide, and Isabelle Crabtree; however, like any competition, there can only be one winner, and it was Nagalakshmi Deepak’s design that made the cut, as the designers on the panel were impressed with her unique approach and her ability to stand out among the crowd. DHL is definitely involved in some exciting projects that are an investment in our fashion future.

 

Published in Fashion Weekly, November 2013

 

Toronto-20131022-01227 Toronto-20131022-01228 Toronto-20131022-01229 Toronto-20131022-01230

Fashion Entrepreneur Do’s and Don’ts: Advice from The DHL Fashion Industry Panel

The DHL Panel at the World Mastercard Fashion Week 2013 catered to aspiring fashion entrepreneurs.  The Panel gave advice about starting your own business, how to market your product, and discussed partnerships and investment strategies.

The DHL panel discussion was moderated by Leesa Butler from Fashion Group International and included Stephan Caras (designer), Adam Taubenfligel (designer – Triarchy), Jarrad Clark (Global Creative Director of IMG Fashion), Mark Zimmerman (Senior Advisor & CIO at MaRs), and Greg Hewitt (President of DHL Express Canada).

Stephan started off the discussion on financing design projects and cautioned young designers that they must be “financially stable” and capable of investing “total commitment for at least 5 years” in order to get any business off the ground. They should not expect a 1 year turn around and there has to be constant improvement over those 5 years. Most young designers are excited and ambitious, but Stephan admonishes moving too quickly and notes that before even thinking of a show, you need the platform, the venue, and the back-up capital to put on that show.

Where to look for Investments and Capital:

  1. Risk capital – the 3 f’s: friends, family, fools
  2. Venture capital
  3. Government support – small business grants
  4. Partnerships – align yourself with a brand that is like-minded and forge long-term partnerships
  5. Corporate company sponsorship

Before one can even think of financing, though, there are three core elements that must be in order. First and foremost, you have to have a product and there has to be a market for that product.

The 3 most important aspects to entrepreneurial success are:

  1. Product
  2. Market
  3. Team

Adam reminded the young designers that “some products will work and some won’t” and tells designers to keep that in mind and be prepared for it. It is important to believe in your product, but it is essential to test its marketability. Adam encourages young designers to launch in their local market and test their product out so they don’t over-commit to anything and find themselves in over their heads. He calls this tactic “home ground test runs.” Adam cautions that “until you have a strong base, a good supply chain, and financial stability” you should not be jumping the borders of your country. You can “go after markets,” Adam explains, “but don’t go after all of it all at once.” Growing a business is a slow, organic process that requires balance, strategy, and patience; after all, Adam warns that “retailers don’t give you a second chance, so take the time and do it right.”

One way that Mark suggests young entrepreneurs test their marketability is online. Stephan adamantly agreed, remarking that “social media is the best way for a new designer to market. Social media allows easy access to markets and gets you out there – exposing your work and bringing it to the public.” Although it is paramount to a new business, Stephan also cautions to be strategic with your use of social media and avoid being “guilty of information overload.” Social media is an excellent medium through which to “gauge how your product is being accepted by this initial market.”

Finally, Greg offers advice that can be one of the biggest contenders that make the difference between success and failure, that of a good team and good partnerships, particularly a good supply partner. “Your designs are your livelihood; they need to be in good hands,” says Greg, and he further notes that working with experts like DHL will help reduce initial trial and error. Ultimately one of the greatest assets is a supply partner that understands your business, your customers, and your individual needs as a fashion entrepreneur. Adam supports this view wholeheartedly, remarking that “it’s your job to be creative; form good partnerships so that you can let those burdens go and focus on your job – creating.”

With this network in play, the panel decided on two main points that will determine success.

Cardinal Rules for young designers:

  1. Have a clear vision and business strategy that is also malleable.
  2. Industry Knowledge

Jarrad urges young designers to “own your vision and take it through all of the barriers, but be willing to adapt.” Young entrepreneurs should indeed have a clear vision and a clear business plan, but should also know that it will change and therefore it should be a plan that is malleable. Not only the business plan, but how you “get there” or achieve your vision must also be open to change. Ultimately things won’t always be in your control and you have to roll with the punches. Adam cautions along the same lines, mentioning that “you’re not going to be the one that dictates a lot of the change that will happen, even if it’s your business” and expresses that “adaptation is not compromising your vision.” This is not a linear journey; all successes are achieved through a long road full of twists and turns.

Finally, the entire panel unanimously agreed that as a new designer you MUST have knowledge about the industry. You must first learn from others who have knowledge. The most beneficial but least utilized resource is other successful designers. Do not underestimate the benefits of internships and apprenticeships; mentorships are the most effective way for you to learn your craft, develop your business sense, and become familiar with the industry.

 

Published in Fashion Weekly, November 2013

 

Mikael D Runway Show

Mikael D’s 2014 spring line offers a unique juxtaposition between class, femininity, and elegance and a more risqué sexual allure. The collection boasts a lot of beading, lace, and sparkle, along with a lot of eccentric design work and an intricate attention to detail that adds a certain haute couture element to his work. Definitely high-end materials, Mikael’s work evokes class and high-fashion all the way. The central theme of this 2014 spring collection is a mock-nudity that takes every elegant piece that little step further towards seductive and alluring. With a lot of lace overlay and nude linings, the garments and the person wearing them seem to blend. Truly a collection for those whose fashion sense is an extension of their personal identity, these pieces are sensational and inspiring. My favorite piece, what I have deemed his “naked dress” out of his entire mock-nude collection, is a beautiful curve accentuating dress that is nude with sparkly blue accents. The dress hugs the model and covers the body in a way that it seems to be an extension of the girl herself. Definitely head-turning quality, Mikael D’s 2014 spring collection will get your pulse racing and take your breath away.

 

Published in Fashion Weekly, November 2013

 

 

Narces Studio Show

The Narces 2014 spring collection couples pieces that are fun, flirty, and hyper feminine with others that are classy, elegant, and a little bit sexy. The type of creations that can adapt to any setting, whether professional, social, or intimate, Narce’s collection has every look that your wardrobe needs for spring 2014. In the flirty and fun portion, you’ll see a lot of beading, lace, dots, and sparkle. The dresses maintain shorter flirty skirt lines, including ballerina and A line, with some flowing longer options as well. Here styles are light and flowy, with a colour palette that boasts softer pastel hues, giving the collection a very fresh and feminine feel. In the more sophisticated and classy portion, you’ll still see a lot of lace and beading, but this is most often darker hues and black over nude or lighter metallic linings, and designs fit a little closer to the body. If I could describe this collection in 3 words they would be feminine, flirtatious, and fun. Her designs are perfect for spring and I’m confident that we will see many of these adorable designs leave the runway and resurface on the streets of Toronto this coming spring.

 

Publishin in Fashion Weekly, November 2013