As you guys already know, I like to do a little modeling every now and then. Sometimes it’s fun to work with someone else’s vision and try to bring that to life. A few months ago local fashion designer Godfrey Mensah reached out to me through Instagram and asked if I would be interested in modeling the Spring/Summer 2016 collection for his line Keniya X Label called “Raw Hype”. I had seen his unisex garments gather attention at Toronto Men’s Fashion Week and was intrigued by the aesthetic so I said yes.
What do you get if you mix the work ethic of Karl Lagerfeld with the design aesthetic of Alexander McQueen and season to taste with a dash of BadGalRiRi? A bold, young bridal designer who’s one part Indian, one part Canadian and all parts #GIRLBOSS.
Mani Jassal and I are sitting in a busy, cramped Starbucks in downtown Toronto on Queen Street West. With celebrities like R&B artist Ashanti to singer Miguel’s longtime girlfriend Nazanin Mandi wearing her designs, it’s nice to catch up with another fellow Ryerson University School of Fashion alum who is quickly making a name for herself only a few years post-graduation. I imagine it must have been a bit of divine intervention that has put her where she is today as Mani tells me about how she almost took a different career path.
Turns out Mani and I have some things in common. We are both immigrants of ethnic backgrounds who came to North America when we were young and grew up with traditionalist parents. She tells me about how her South Asian parents had wanted her to be an engineer or a doctor and at the time it was something that she had accepted for herself. She applied to the University of Toronto’s aerospace engineering program, the University of Waterloo’s chemistry program, and then the wild card, fashion design at Ryerson University.
Due to Toronto Fashion Week I’m about a week late to share this but guess who’s on the homepage of Untitled&Co!?
Models are people too! It’s easy to forget that when all we see are those perfectly airbrushed faces glossy and glistening on billboards and magazine covers. Not too long ago I got an itch to shoot someone’s portrait so I spoke with a model agent from Spot 6 Management and had Tyrah come over to my space for a quick model test. That’s where I got to pick her brain and discover she’s way more than just a pretty face who has lent her look to projects for swimwear designer Andrea Iyama, beauty brand Pureology, and more. She’s a dog mom and pineapple-on-pizza advocate who could probably kick your butt at Mortal Kombat.
For part 2 of my feature on Mary Katrantzou’s collaboration with Adidas I wanted to shoot her trackpants and reversible varsity jacket. After mulling over where to shoot it I settled on a rooftop in the heart of Toronto’s West Queen West neighborhood. Almost exactly a year ago to this day Vogue named Toronto’s West Queen West neighborhood as the second coolest neighborhood in the world for their global street style report. This part of the city is where art, fashion, commerce, and coolness all intersect. It’s vibrant and always alive. What better place to shoot a set of pieces that embody all those things as well?
How many designers do you know of that have gone straight from finishing school to presenting their debut ready-to-wear collection at London Fashion Week? Mary Katrantzou did just that in during the Spring/Summer 2009 show season and since then has been steadily building her name as a digital print powerhouse in the fashion industry.
About two years ago I stopped shooting fashion photography. I had only been shooting for about a year and a half when I got to a point where it just wasn’t fun anymore. I had originally gotten into photography through my music. I was writing and releasing songs and they needed visuals to go along with them so I decided I needed to learn to shoot myself. Not particularly surprising or new as I had been used to doing everything myself from songwriting to producing, recording, and mixing. I had a little basic experience and from there I just taught myself using my only camera, a point and shoot. At the time I was going to a school called Ontario College of Art and Design and I remember being able to spend hours upon hour by myself in this little makeshift studio with two studio lamps trying to make art out of myself. I didn’t get lonely and I didn’t feel bored.