Four Degrees of Separation: Shift Talent Appreciation Night

 An event orchestrated by the enterprising Dorian Dunkley and courtesy of Shift Talent , showcasing models from Shift Models , with fashions supplied by Cherry Chic Designs, and Eleven:Eleven Boutique, a successful showcase of Calgary talent was held on Friday September 2 2011 at Spur Gastropub in downtown Calgary.

The event showcased four collections from four different Calgary based fashion designers, with one boutique showing. Among them were Eleven:Eleven Boutique owned and operated by Lana Selbee, Cherry Chic Designs by Valrie Powell, Nelli Zimmer, Talent Manager of Shift Talent, and Dorian Dunkley of Shift Models, Shift Talent & Dorian Inc. (to name a few).  Marsina King’s (Monokin), Daryl White (DW), Lana Selbee (Eleven Eleven boutique), Valrie Powell(Cherry Chic), Rachel Hagerty (Ivy Rose Custom).

The breadth of talent present and accounted for underscored the emerging fashion industry in Calgary. Within one half of a medium sized venue, there were fashion designers, models, talent managers, boutique owners, professional photographers, musicians, dancers and a few well meaning writers (myself included). All present to enthusiastically promote the present talent in the Calgary area in the realm of fashion. The following is a brief synopsis of four women who are currently contributing to the fashion industry in Calgary, who were gracious enough to answer a few questions during an otherwise hectic and fantastic evening.

Lana Selbee: Owner and Operator of Eleven:Eleven Boutique located at 233 10th street NW, Calgary AB

Lana Selbee of Eleven:Eleven Boutique presents an inventory of unique and varied clothing. The key term for the current approach to inventory is ‘traceability’ whereby Lana Selbee aims to know the complete information of the process by which each item has come to be. This entails that each item have a face behind its construction. Many of whom were present at this event, including Cherry Chic Designs.

Not necessarily an ethical, political or aesthetic decision, Lana Selbee promotes what she calls ‘creativity, when in reality what is promoted is a face behind each fashion design. Where each aspect of what she sells must have accountability. Where the designer has conscious knowledge of each material incorporated into each design. Eleven:Eleven Boutique aims to find quality fashions from Canadian Designers across Canada, while also illuminating new talent in the industry.

Mainly operated through word of mouth and industry connections made at events like this one, Eleven:Eleven Boutique in the Calgary Kensington area is a place where the mentality behind an art gallery exists both upstairs and down. Ms. Selbee attempts to find a human face behind each product sold.

Which truth be told, I am enjoying a one of a kind, vegan friendly leather like shoulder bag, decorated with a heart shaped chain attached to the zipper. Congrats to Eleven:Eleven and a successful show of their current 2011 F/W inventory.

Valrie Powell: Owner, Designer, Creative force behind Cherry Chic Designs.

Valrie Powell is a  Calgary based fashion designer. Cherry Chic Designs attempt to incorporate a mentality where the construction of the garment should improve the shape of the individual. Cherry Chic Designs aims to construct wearable designs that can easily walk off the runway and into reality without much pause.

Ms. Powell’s biography on Cherry Chic Designs website states. “As I matured my interest in fashion continued to grow and evolve, as I focused on creating designs for EVERY WOMAN. The challenge was to create “feel good” fashions that could place every woman, regardless of their body type– from the runway and pages of a magazine, to the club, to the office, and every place in between. These designs were created to accentuate individual assets of each unique body type and proportions, while masking the challenges of breaking the mould of 36”-24”-36” measurements“. Which proved true as the assortment of body types on the catwalk all of whom looked amazing in each piece, while each looking strikingly different. From a four inches above the knee black flapper dress, to a zebra printed fluted skirt, fun, sexyness and shape flattering construction were the dominant features of this collection.

Cherry Chic Designs are available to order or at Eleven:Eleven Boutique in Calgary.

Dorian Dunkley: Lady in Charge at Shift Talent, Shift Models and Dorian Inc.

Dorian Dunkley recently graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelors Degree in Commerce: her major (not surprisingly) Entrepreneurship. From the word go, Ms. Dunkley took the proverbial ball and ran with it. If this event is any indication, a packed house with a massive turnout and support from various talents around Calgary, the endeavor has been a success. Definitely a contender for any of the Calgary ‘one to watch’ list, Ms. Dunkley is establishing a network of talent in the fashion industry in Calgary. For further information on events hosted by Ms. Dunkley, her websites (yes plural) are:

Nelli Zimmer: Talent Manager of Shift Talent

Dressed in a sharply tailored red dress with matching heels, coiffed long brown hair and dashing to and fro through out the evening, Nelli Zimmer was definitely one contributing factor behind the success of the evening. Aspiring to be a full time Talent Manager in the industry, currently Nelli Zimmer is the Talent Manager at Shift Talent, owned and operated by Dorian Dunkley. As models stalked past in creations by designers present during the evening, Nelli Zimmer stopped by to illuminate the driving force behind the event: a young fast paced community devoted to fashion.

Mainly an appreciation night for Shift Talent and its many contributors, the event aimed to showcase an emerging industry comprised of dancers, photographers, performance artists, models, fashion designers and entrepreneurs. Nelli Zimmer herself is a Talent Manager, with a unique viewpoint on the industry. While definitely looking to pursue a career, she understands that many qualified artists are frustrated by the long term haul that the Calgary market requires.

The fascinating part is that the arts industry is developing not at the pace of a generational shift, but within a decade huge expansion is expected. Truth be told, the energy and talent are here. It is just a matter of getting organized. And for that, you really do need a fleet of Talent Managers. Calgary, a city largely based on oil and gas, is developing a credible arts scene in terms of fashion that is being showcased on the world stage. Perhaps within the decade, new hopefuls like Nelli Zimmer, Dorian Dunkley, Lana Selbee and Valrie Powell will produce and invent a world class industry, fueled in part by the city of oil and gas.

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