Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lela Fashion Show. Three days to go...Guest Blog by Joy Bach

I’m slipping into food coma. Shanel and I just polished off a chicken chimichanga and enchilada soup in her studio. A nice break from the sewing and fittings for this weekend’s show. The last time I checked in, Shanel’s goal was to finish five dresses and start a new one. Did she finish them? “Nope. I have 35-40 started. None finished.” Three days to go. Huh.

I asked if everything was okay. “Aside from the near-miss disaster? I walked into my studio over the weekend with wet carpet tiles a foot away from the rack holding all the garments. A pipe from upstairs was leaking. Everything would have been soaked.”

I see the vase that holds the drippings of said pipe. The studio looks like it’s in the throes of creation. Some skirts. Some pieces I have no clue what part of the puzzle they fit. At this point in the process, Shanel evaluates and re-evaluates. She has several “half outfits” and 10 models to work with (six have already been fitted; one is scheduled for today and three tomorrow.)

“If I have a jacket, it might not have matched the skirt on a certain model, or it might have looked ridiculous. Then I have to figure out what to make quickly or decide not to put it in the show. I’m in the middle of figuring out what to pair, and who to put them on.”

Usually about now Shanel is touting a smoker’s cough -- though she doesn’t smoke. I would normally be bringing her food and Emergence-C packets. But her health is fine, which means she truly is in good shape regarding stress level. I have witnessed her little origami fingers under the gun and know how quickly she works.

A few years back, we decided on a dress – sleeveless fitted bodice with a flowing full-length princess skirt, low V and Chinese collar. Elegant and brilliant. We drove to Evanston to find fabric and landed on a gorgeous iridescent olive. She sat at my house, full access to the client, sewed straight through. Fifteen hours later, the dress was packed and off to Tokyo. Unbelievable.

Perusing the garments and taking note of certain shapes and darker colors, I was curious about the inspiration for this year’s theme. “It seems to reflect the struggle between structure and fluidity. Planned and organized versus free flowing.” Good answer.

Curious too about what happens if creative juices are not flowing, but the deadline still exists? “If I just start creating things, it will usually spark some idea. Or the fabric itself can be a starting point for inspiration. I might play or drape fabric around and see how it lays. Usually if there’s something I don’t like I can change it or reshape it.“

“I started a new piece today and will start another one tomorrow. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I feel pretty good about where I am right now. “ Cool. Shanel will meet with her stylist and jeweler at the end of the week. Will check in again on Friday.

This is crunch time and execution mode for Lela Boutique as well. I was wondering how Carrie and Stephanie were faring and what has been accomplished in the final two weeks.

Carrie explained, “Luckily, our partnership is one of trust and division of duties… Stephanie has given me the opportunity to run with the show details while she keeps her eye on the store and its needs. So far, so good! Last week I confirmed details with the stylists, music for the DJ, gift bag participants, mailing out the VIP and sponsor tickets and meeting with our sponsor Arts Institute.”

Lela also holds a volunteer appreciation party in advance, knowing the hard work entailed the day of and after the event. “The Arts Institute really stepped up to the plate on Monday. I mentioned that we were still looking for dressers to help the models backstage. They made a few calls and 24 hours later, I had 10 students at the volunteer party!”

Other things things checked off the list:

  • Neroli Salon is working with both Lorena Sarbu and Shanel to create runway looks.
  • Lorena Sarbu and Shanel are conducting model fittings.
  • The jewelry for Shanel’s looks is being created by our resident jeweler, Staci Schemm.
  • Creating the seating chart.
  • Confirming signage and tent layout.
  • Collecting gift bag items.
  • has been running the ad, posters are up.
  • Production notes for Judi and Bjorn will be mapped out for working front- and back-of-house.

Now, I have worked back-of-the-house production before as well. As scheduled and as organized to the detail we may try to be -- with models there as early as possible, dressers and accessories accounted for and categorized, there is still the unknown factor: Shanel. Never really know exactly what time she will arrive with the pieces, or what is left that needs to be done after she walks through the door. Shanel needs as much time as possible because details of her vision can still change a few hours before. Knowing her for this many years, though, the girl delivers. She hits it. Out of the ballpark.

1 comment:

  1. So excited to see what the fab designer has come up with this year!