Thursday, September 16, 2010

7th Annual Lela Fashion Show, Lela's Perspective...Guest Blog by Joy Bach


Since Lela Boutique is producing the annual runway show, I also caught up with Carrie Arrouet, Lela co-owner, at Alterra. Busy and productive, she was pecking away at her computer as I approached her with a yummy vegetable Strata I could not wait to dive into. Personable and always upbeat, Carrie gave me a rundown of what has been done so far for the Show. “We start planning six weeks out. But going into our seventh year, everything is mainly a revisit…. The main things, production, lighting, sound and tent are secured in Week One. It’s like planning a wedding.”

Their presenting sponsor was quite a coup as well. “This year, we were contacted by John from Zeppos, a public relations firm. Their client, the Art Institute of Wisconsin, was interested in partnering with us for this event. We met with them in June and confirmed participation in July.” The brand new AIW has a fashion design program, which will offer scholarships to its students. “So they’ll kick off their ‘Passion for Fashion’ scholarship the night of the event. I think it worked out great!”

In the second week of planning, Carrie had already confirmed the photographers. “I also gave our graphic designer Gina Johnson all the elements for our invite, flyers and posters. Flyers hopefully come in today, so I can get the posters out to our partners and other businesses. And last week, I had my production team confirmed! They’ll be awesome. Bjorn, Hamid and Judy will have headsets and work the front and back of the house. I also found our DJ, Darren Cole.”

And here we are at the end of Week 4...only two weeks to go. Everything falling into place led me to ask what, if any, challenges presented themselves over the years. Carrie chuckled and remembered minor details like presenting all corsets at Year One’s show. “I still remember Stephanie’s (Lela co-owner) poor mom in the back tying and untying all these models in and out of corsets in between runs!” Or, getting calls the morning after the show. “Stakes were left behind from the tent. So the next morning, all the produce trucks pulled up across the street and had flat tires. That was nice.” To me, so far it seems everything is accounted for and all seems pretty well buttoned up.

Looking at the final goal and grateful for all the partners involved, Carrie keeps things in perspective. “We really want to put on a cool event for Milwaukee to enjoy. It’s an event for an event’s sake. We want it to be accessible to everyone -- it’s why I feel so passionate about maintaining the $25 ticket price. This is our way of thanking our customers and everyone for their support.”

Carrie’s excitement in recounting the last few weeks and what is yet to do, is a part of her everyday disposition. It is also part of the mystery why I consistently part the Lela store with a new coveted piece. Her enthusiasm and Lela’s customer service have kept them successful for these past seven years. Carrie and Stephanie have the eye to suggest gorgeous pieces I never would have considered for myself, and do so without pressure. So, after heading over to the boutique, I was briefly and warmly introduced to my new purchase for the day -- a nice little comfy black Lara Miller piece. Pleased to meet you. I’m wearing you on my next trip.

As we walked through the back office, I found Stephanie working at the computer. Always great to see her, we hugged and immediately launched into recounting some pretty hilarious memories of our own. Some details of which finally became clarified in our exchanging of the tales. Two years later. In the back office.

We touched base about the show and where things currently stood. “Shanel works at her own pace. She might keep us in the dark a bit a few weeks out, but I don’t worry. Year after year, she delivers something just jaw-dropping. Just incredible. I don’t know how she does it.”

Well-said, Steph.

For more information, visit www.shanelregier.com, www.lelaboutique.com and www.joypbach.com.

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