Recently Upsari was selected as a finalist by the award-winning Art of Fashion organization for their annual #musthave16 summer dress competition!
I was so honoured to be amongst the candidates and I have not stopped talking about what I have leaned from their panel of expert mentors. The most amazing thing was the enthusiasm and energy which the mentors brought to our first event together. Their optimism was contagious and their support for #emergingdesigners in #Canada was beautiful to witness. It was wonderful to be a finalist and be amongst other #emerging designers receiving their encouragement.
I left the event feeling inspired. Even though I am a media veteran, I learned so much about building and nurturing communities online from Jennifer Powell, owner of Blissdom. So much of what she shared was about retaining and strengthening our authentic voices. Check out her wonderful and vulnerable self! Jennifer Pilkington had some wise things to say about retail and coming from her years of experience, all of it was valuable.
Laura-Jean Bernhardson, owner of Fresh Collective along with Art of Fashion founder Michelle Planche sat down with me to give me an honest critique of my Kiss Me dress, Upsari's entry to the #MustHave16 Summer Dress contest.
Both Michelle and Laura-Jean were disappointed that my original idea of making a reversible dress had to go due to complications with my pattern and specialized textile. But they understood. I will save that idea for another dress and other fabrics.
They suggested mixing my two colour ways (fabrics) which I thought was a beautiful idea in principal but when I got back to my workshop, it did not work on a practical level. The two fabrics behave differently when they were sewn together. So I had to scrap that idea.
Finally, they suggested I give the waist area some extra shape by perhaps adding a belt in a different colour. Well, I tried this too! But no one on my team liked the look once I added a belt.
Michelle and Laura-Jean's basic advice was to do as much as possible to elongate the body. This is advice to live by! I love designers like Roland Mouret and the late L'Wren Scott both known for tailored dresses that elongate the body. My take is a little loser and gives a bit more room for the things the Upsari woman needs to do: for some of us that means crawling on the floor with kids before heading to work, and hopefully a barstool some nights still looking sharp and sassy.
So we tweaked the Kiss Me dress as much as possible to help it elongate the body - and we then looked at all our women's designs in the Serenity Beach collection and incorporated Michelle's and Laura-Jean's suggestions for our four Serenity Beach dresses: Kiss Me and Kiss Me 2, the Jingle Shell Beach Cover Up, and the comfortable knit-silk chiffon a-line dress inspired by the Marilyn Monroe of India, Madhubala.