Megan Mackenzie and Danielle Cameron stunned the crowd at Vancouver Fashion Week last month with a dramatic showing of their collection, Mackenzie Jones featuring Danielle Cameron. We interview the designers to get their thoughts on the event and their collaboration together.
There’s a sense of fantasy and theatrics in your runway show that’s atypical of usual fashion shows. What made you want to incorporate that?
Mackenzie: I have never thought of myself as a typical designer, therefore I have never really considered putting on a usual runway show. I believe in my shows being an experience, something that will stick with the viewers for a time after. Some of my most moving memories incorporated movement, music and theatrics; therefore, it seemed fitting to use these things to move the audience. I want my models to inhabit their ornament and by performing they can express that inhabitation to the audience. In most of my shows it is the models who create the experience, I just tell them the story and they move from there, that is one of the most gratifying things to me, is to see how each body engages with the piece and with their partner.
Cameron: Having worked with Megan before, as a model, makeup artist, and just watching her success in general, I know her vision for her line and where she wants to go with it. I can easily say I’m on board! I love the idea of telling a story through movement and song. So often you see models just walk down the runway and there’s nothing wrong with that, but why not engage the audience? We had people come up to us after the show who were like, “I was almost crying! That was so awesome.” We want to wow the audience, we want them to be breathless and feel a range of emotions. It’s going to be different for each individual and that’s what makes it so cool.
And what was the inspiration behind the collection?
Mackenzie: This season is an extrapolation from last year’s collection. This season revolves around relationships, love and intimacy, which are ultimately abstract ideas. I seek to interpret these ideas and express them. There is also a huge natural influence; I have always been inspired by the Canadian landscape. I was always awestruck to see a wild animal while in Banff. As I grew up I realized how fascinated I was with the gift nature leaves behind, such as fell antlers, bones, skulls and pelts. I use entirely “recycled” or ethical fur in my collection and that is a huge deal to me. I seek out trappers whose way of life is reliant on old ways. In that respect historical Canadiana is important to me.
Cameron: When Megan honored me with the request to join her in helping to create the new collection I was excited by her goals. I’m closely familiar with last year’s collection, and for this year she stated that she wanted it to be bigger, better and to really push what she’s done already. We used last year’s collection as our inspiration and expanded on it to create something new. For myself, personally, with the men’s collection, I’m a romantic and I love the men’s fashion of old. The renaissance, baroque, gothic and rococo time periods, and with all the work I do, there is always some reference to armour. I know that sounds strange, but you’ll see it in the sense of a shoulder piece or a reference to a type of uniform once worn… and then I go all designer on it [laughs] and Megan and I both know that I tend to have a strong masculine influence to my work, so it works well for our collection.
Is there a message you want to send through your clothes?
Mackenzie: That dreams can come true. A majority of my pieces are built on fantasy, however, you take away the outrageous elements and you are left with beauty, which anyone would strive for. Beauty, passion and empowerment are what message I would like to convey; I know I feel those things while creating the line. I have always felt like an odd duck among my peers, but through this collection I have learned that being odd and weird isn’t bad, it’s a creativity that will never stop, and will always be with me driving me forward to create new pieces.
Cameron: If anything, I’d say creativity and empowerment. I want people to dream big, and that’s part of why we don’t just make our models walk down the runway. It gets your brain all jazzed up as you sit there watching the models and the garments in action, telling a story, and it makes you dream and tickles your imagination. I also want the wearer of my clothing to feel confident and empowered, to hold their head up high and want to strut their stuff, model or not. Everyone’s unique, and I like expressing that through my designs.
How would you describe your experience as designers at fashion week?
Mackenzie: So wonderful! If you had told me five years ago that I would be where I am now I would never believe you. I am still over the moon and can hardly believe it is true. And not only am I here but I am well received by the audience, critics, models and other designers. I am so grateful every day. And with a little hard work and perseverance I hope to do this for a long time to come.
Cameron: Amazing! I can’t stop gushing over how wonderful everything was! I could hug everyone who participated in VFW in helping us succeed 10 times over, easily! As a new designer putting my work on the runway for the first time it couldn’t have been a more positive experience for me! I can only say “Thank you” like a broken record to everyone!
Anything you would change for next time?
Mackenzie: Maybe a little more sleep! I always forget how many teeny tiny details need to be arranged before runway time. I am sure I will get better each time and I am constantly learning. I also want to incorporate more of my jewelry into the collection, that is what I was primarily trained in and I do believe I am quite skilled — I would like to show off more of those skills!
Cameron: I’d probably watch where I’m putting my safety pin next time, and make sure it’s not through my fingernail. I was in denial when I realized I had safety pinned myself to my model when fixing up the timber wolf where he was muffin topping. I’m pretty sure lack of sleep and the adrenaline played a factor into my successful accomplishment on that one [laughs].
Final question, where do you see your brand going?
Mackenzie: I am hoping to branch out into a more ready to wear collection. I would like to get my designs out there. At this point they are so one of a kind that it is hard to attain. But that is not what I am about, I want beauty and empowerment for everyone, so being able to spread that would be wonderful. I would also like to work on an accessories collection, so that you can add a Mackenzie Jones piece into your everyday wardrobe.
Cameron: I’m hoping everywhere. I know that sounds kind of vague, but I’d like to move past Canadian borders, target the U.S. and international fashion lovers out there who appreciate unique designs. That goes for fashion or jewelry, which is what I have a BFA in. It’s like our designs: I just want to keep dreaming big, because whatever you dream can come true. Only you limit yourself and what you can accomplish.
CoCo & Rico Executive Editor, Celia Leung
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