Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My first runway show

Last weekend was my first runway show where my accessories were being featured. With seasoned (some 20 year veterans) designers from Trinidad in Toronto for the Caribbean event called "Cuttin Style", the Liz Mannette Collection was under the bright lights for the first time.

Going to the fittings, the rehearsal and being backstage were all new experiences for me. And getting such great feedback and positive comments from the back stage staff and the models about my jewelry was also wonderful.

So what was it like. All the designers seemed quite organized, with their dresses and outfits all laid out, with the names of the models in the order of appearance. The makeup artist team was in one corner, and the hair stylist team in another corner. Some water over in one corner, and then Liz Mannette accessories laid out at another end, right before the models exited the dressing room. Although the plan was to see them all dressed and decide how to add the pieces, I could tell this good plan would not work. So while the models were getting dressed, while some were getting their make-up redone, or others were being fitted with head pieces, I made my way around the dressing room with earrings and pendants.

The Fashion Coordinator, a large funny guy by the name of Richard Young, was in charge, and suggested that one area be adorned with accessories for each line. So for the opening designer, Simply Garnet, who had interesting casual and elegant styles in black and white, I opted for earrings only. This was thrown off a bit by the two male models whose tunics cried out to be accented with our pendants. But in general the range of earrings was a good fit for Simply Garnet. Photos will be on the site soon.

Then with Robert Young of The Cloth, a friend for several years, the pendants and wrist pieces were used. The Cloth's production was different. He wanted fun, enthusiasm and playfullness on the runway. So the models wore ponytails and were asked to skip and dance along the runway. Good for him. Who says a fashion show has to be all dour faced models. (As Tyra Banks once said on her America's Next Top Model Show, look like your dog just died). Fortunately, Liz Mannette jewelry adorned happy faced models, which is a Caribbean runway style, I was told.

So the jewelry was worn with two of the designers. And I learned to always take the smallest sized pieces. The girls did have remarkably thin wrists!

Just before the end of the show, I was asked to greet and wave to the audience. So this, folks, was my first runway wave. Well, I didn't quite walk the full runway. I just walked to the front and did a wave while the sparkly MC told the audience a bit about the jewelry collection. So there it is. My first runway experience. Many lessons learned for the next time. Bring an assistant. Bring my own snacks (for outside the dressing room of course). Bring the smallest items for thin wrist models. Speak directly to designers in advance, and even look at sketches to see what the Collection is all about. And have my camera or iphone with me to take stills or short videos as the accessories are added.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Liz meets famed designer David Yurman

In New York City this past week I was so excited to be at the launch of David Yurman’s new fragrance at Saks Fifth Avenue. Got there early enough to look at his new Collection, including pieces I had seen in magazines for the past few months.
Tall lovely models wearing Yurman jewelry, tasty finger food, sparkling wine, elegant black wrist cords sprayed with the new fragrance, an overall bubbly atmosphere and everyone in black. This was the scene in the designers gallery on the ground floor of the prestigious store. The Saks staff were all so friendly, yet professional.

And we were not disappointed. A bit after 4 pm David and Sybil Yurman appeared. He was quite calm, pleasant and totally gracious. Standing in line to greet him, I decided to say exactly who I was and why I was there. “Hi. I’m Liz Mannette, a jewelry designer from the Caribbean. I’ve always been so inspired by your work and when I grow up, I want to be just like you” or something like that. I can’t remember the exact words. But I do remember feeling so comfortable speaking with this icon of the jewelry industry who has been designing of over 25 years.

He also has a sense of humor. As I said I wanted to be just like him when I grew up, he laughed and said I would have to have a sex change, change my skin and lose some of my hair! And he actually looked at some of the pieces I wore that day. I let him know that my designs were all about steel drums aka steelpans. He noted that I had a theme, and said that’s good.

But there’s more. After he moved off to greet other visitors, I went over to the photographer on scene who was busy taking photos of the launch and asked if he got a good shot of David Yurman and me. “Not good enough,” he said, “Let’s go take another.” I hesitated a bit, thinking that would have been a bit too pushy. But the good fella insisted, and since he worked with Yurman, who was I too challenge him.

So we went back to David Yurman, by this time talking to real customers who were wearing his new pieces. And David, even more graciously, came over and put his arm around me and said - and this is great, “One designer to another”.

So now I am tracking down the photographer to get a copy of the photo. I will hunt him down and find him. Just kidding. Keep looking for the news.

Monday, September 15, 2008

If you're looking you will find them

Read an interesting post on the Style 360 blog about black jewelry designers.

I posted a comment as a black designer myself. So maybe I should be featured in JCK!
Russell Simmons, Chris Aire, Donna Chambers, and now Liz Mannette. This is the company I aspire to keep.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Twitter and Toronto

To those who are into Twitter, I've started sending Tweets of my daily adventures in the world of jewelry design and running a new business. And of course, when I travel, it will be even more exciting as then all my staff etc can get continuous updates of what's going on with me.

Hey. We'll be back in Toronto in two weeks. This for the Caribbean Fashion Gala on Sept 27th. Liz Mannette Collection will be on the runway with top fashion designers from Trinidad and Tobago. This will be our first major fashion event where the full Collection will be profiled and promoted. So, I'm quite excited about this as it will be great exposure, and practice for when I do my first major show.

We'll also be organizing one or two private showings while there and hopefully we can reconnect with the friends we met on our last trip to Toronto during the Caribana celebrations. I think we're close to getting into a Toronto retailer, which is the goal after all is said and done.

Maybe I can even visit some Toronto sites and have some fun while I'm there.