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Friday, July 29, 2011

A Passion for Fashion!

Hello fashionistas!

Today I am pleased to be able to introduce you to Michelle Planche, President of Paradigm Events and creator of the not-for-profit foundation, the Art of Fashion  When I first met Michelle, I thought she was like a warm summer breeze sailing from one meeting to another with her lovely smile and easy going nature.  She is a force to be reckoned with in the very best sense and a perfect fit for the demanding event industry.   She started her career as a teenager and has truly become a fixture on the Toronto fashion scene.  As I listened to her talk about how she got started and the incredible growth of her company over the years, I was amazed at her level of energy, enthusiasm and genuine desire to make every event something to remember.  She is responsible for the smooth execution, organization and promotion of countless events every year and has to wear multiple hats on a regular basis.  Mind you, I wouldn’t cover up her gorgeous blonde locks for anything!  Sit back and enjoy Michelle’s story of success and learn about her passion for fashion!   
Celebrity Liz West and Michelle Planche

When did you first fall in love with fashion?
I fell in love with fashion as a teenager.  I was an eccentric dresser in high school and every day was a fashion show.  I went to three different high schools in four years because I started a fashion show in each school, produced it and moved on.  I started modelling at 14 because I thought it would be a great networking tool for meeting designers, retailers and potential clients.  I even had business cards that said fashion show producer at 15!  I used to take my family’s old outfits and reconstruct them and re-work them for them for the high school crowd.  I still have closet full of my most memorable outfits at my parent’s house!
What brought about the creation of Art of Fashion?
When I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to be a fashion show producer and I was looking for a university that had a fashion show.  I found Bishop’s University in Quebec and showed up on their doorstep with my demo reel and portfolio in hand.  They immediately gave me full control of their fashion show, ‘Beach Bash’ and it was through that show that I got to meet some Canadian designers.  From there I was able to get contract work producing shows for community designers during my summer break.  In my third year I realized I wanted to expand my planning beyond fashion.  I knew so many young designers and knew could act as an asset to them.  Many of them needed guidance, organizational and planning skills and someone to mentor them.  I knew that there was a serious gap for emerging designers from graduation to getting their merchandise into Holt’s so when I graduated in 1997, I launched the first Art of Fashion event in 1998.  At first it was just a fashion show and design competition and it developed from there.   Back then I didn’t even have a cell phone, someone would page me and I would pull over and find a phone booth!  I was handing out flyers on street corner and I couldn’t believe it when the event sold out!  There were people lined up all the way down the street! 
How has Art of Fashion improved the landscape of Canadian design?
I think I find that there’s a lot more recognition for Canadian designers as a whole and one of the ways we have improved the landscape, is we have brought awareness to the forefront in terms of supporting our own talent.  We have raised attention to some of the gaps of making it here in Canada and some of the struggles.  Our organization is all about making fashion accessible.  We didn’t want to become exclusive; we wanted to be a great outlet for anyone in the fashion industry to explore the path to success, whether that person be a photographer, designer or in public relations.  Art of Fashion is the best way for our designers to learn what it is that consumers want. 
How can designers enter the competition?
Designers can enter the competition by completing an application form and putting together a series of six sketches for six outfits that would complete a collection.
What is this year’s theme?
This year’s theme is Choreology.  The inspiration is focused on creativity, expression and art form.  I came up with the theme when I was at a dance performance and I was thinking that the costumes were amazing and incredible.  With every different dance style, movement and culture,  fashion was the  distinguishing piece.  Choreology is about the movement and fluidity of the designs that will be showcased.
Michelle Planche and Fashion Magazine's Sarah Cassleman
What can we expect to see at the Art of Fashion event?
You can expect to see our ten design finalists, each with a six piece collection brought to life through an exhibit, along with rotating fashion shows throughout the evening.  You will also meet between 25-35 Canadian independent designers who have their own marketable brands in niche markets who will make their merchandise available for sale.
Tell us about Art Of Fashion’s partnership with ANTM Live Canada. 
America’s Next Top Model Live Canada will be highlighting some of the pieces from our designers in their fantastic Main Stage Fashion Show.  I think this is a great opportunity to support the fashion industry as a whole and that’s why Art of Fashion and ANTM Live have come together - to bring Canadian fashion to the consumer.
What would be your advice to emerging Canadian designers?
I would say it is so important to look at all facets of the business.  Every designer should refine their craft, expand their talent and creativity and come up with their very own signature style.  I would also encourage them to establish long and short term goals and look at complete cycle of a designer including a budget and overall plan of action. 
Thank you to Michelle for sharing your wisdom with us and helping to pave the way for homegrown talent!  We look so forward to working with the future of Canadian design and featuring original pieces in our 45 minute fashion spectacular!  Don’t forget to enter the Art of Fashion competition if you are an up and coming designer and be sure to come and see all the excitement at ANTM Live Toronto!
Until next time my Glamazons!
Cecilia J

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