Mani Jassal shares her creative process and show at 1871 Berkeley church event venue Toronto and how the garden of desire | erised fashion line was born.

Your recent collection ‘the garden of desire/erised’ was inspired by the true narrative created by the poet Raz Soos. What was your process for experiencing Raz’s narrative and how do each of you inspire one another’s creations?

Initially when I had started planning for this collection I was inspired by romantic Bollywood movies like Ram Leela and there was this song that drove me into creating this collection. So essentially the collection inspiration was going to be a timeless love story  I remember sitting with Raz and talking about the collection, and during our conversation Raz was saying that at the end of this story instead of this girl finding her “true love” , it’s actually her own reflection and she realizes that it was self love she was searching for. From that point – the garden of desire | erised was born. Both of us explored different themes and symbols that we could incorporate into the collection. I wanted to incorporate a lot of florals in the collection to symbolize the blossoming and the realization of coming into your own. I used a lot of mirror detailing as well to symbolize the reflection portion of the story. As per Raz’s story, the collection does start out darker on the runway, and then ends with Reds which symbolize love.

Opening the show with the narrative voice over and accompanying dance set a mood and tone inviting guests to approach the show as one would listening to a story. How did this make the experience significantly different?

I think that by putting on a fashion show I am always given an opportunity to do something different and do something that is out of the box. I think incorporating this part of the show helped to set the mood for the guests attending, and they really got familiar with the inspiration of the collection. So many times a designers inspiration for a collection is over looked, but by doing this story with Raz it really helped people understand the deeper meaning of the collection.

While doing the last minute preparations for this show, did anything in particular strike you about the selection of pieces being a significant departure for you from your previous designs?

This collection has been my biggest collection yet , and I incorporated some new silhouettes into the collection which I had never done before. I used the colour yellow in this collection which was a huge departure from previous collections. I always took myself for being a very understated type of designer, but for some reason, this season I loved the colour yellow and it just really added to the inspiration of the story.

You staged and designed a lush beautiful setting at the Berkeley Church to bring out the essence of the narrative of the show. How do you feel this impacted the experience?

I think it was important to show case the actual garden itself on stage for the audience to truly feel like they have walked into the garden of desire | erised. We had great sponsors like Xclusive Designs Decor and Rose Events and Florals that created the set for us. Fresh flowers definitely added to the entire vibe of the show.

What made the Berkeley Church a good setting for this fashion show?

I have done a shoot there previously and really liked the venue. Its different and it has history behind it, and I am a sucker for old architecture. I naturally gravitated towards it.

What does being defined as a luxury brand mean to you?

I think that’s what I wanted when I started this brand, I wanted it to be associated with luxury. The luxury aspect goes from marketing, the retail experience , the product and the after experience.

How did your recent travels to India inspire your collection and what was your process for sourcing materials for your collection?

I was feeling really un inspired after doing the Alamari collection and I was looking all over for inspiration. I am so thankful for having that conversation with Raz about the collection and to have such a powerful story behind it. India is always inspiring, I am surrounded by so many fabrics, materials, trims that its hard not to be inspired. The collection was only supposed to be 20 looks but after my trip to India , it became 50 looks. I actually had more looks , but I had to tell myself that I can save these for the next collection instead now.

You spoke in a previous interview about how inspiring it is to see how people make your pieces their own. How does pursuing this process of enquiry inform your design process?

I think when I am designing I am always thinking as a stylist as well. So I design the pieces as an outfit, but I also imagine what other pieces in the collection that would look good with, or how someone could mix and match it. I think overall when designing I am trying to create versatile pieces that can be styled in many different ways.

How do you balance your designs in the collection to explore the boundaries with each piece while still presenting a unified theme?

I think having an inspiration first is really important in keeping everything balanced. When designing this collection I made a lot of written notes first as to what colours, fabrics, details and silhouettes I wanted to use. I made a list of this and began sketching the collection, and as I was sketching I was checking it off to make sure I put those elements in to the collection. If there was a piece that did not work with the collection because it did not seem unified , I took it out and say to myself “maybe next time”

It’s interesting that the advice you give on being successful is the importance that you have to create something that stands out and to be yourself. In this you equate success ultimately with the ability of having self-knowledge for self expression. How do you think you arrived at this point of being yourself and creating from this vantage point?

I think it’s important to stand out and be yourself because only then can you create truly beautiful art.

You are inspired greatly by travel and different experiences. What are some of your go to sources of inspiration for plotting your next adventure?

Architecture is one of my biggest ones, then music , and Sanjay Leela Bhansali movies.

Mani Jassal

1871 Berkeley Church