Photo: George Pimentel
About a week ago I had the pleasure of attending Mani Jassal's "Garden of Desire | erised" runway and I cannot begin to describe how incredible it was. From romantic form fitting gowns to vibrant voluminous skirts her pieces were stunning, displaying both floral and geometric prints through embroidery, lace, and prints.
What captivated me however, as I'm sure it did many, was the story and inspiration behind her collection. From transformational coach Raz Soos her inspiration was the journey of a young woman finding self-love through brokenness and self-realization through the reflection of another. It was not only empowering but added a personalized touch to the collection.
Now I could ramble on all day about Mani's collection and her successes as a designer but I think she does a much better job at telling her story. So without further ado here is this months exclusive Designer Spotlight Interview with Mani Jassal.
Let’s start from the beginning; When did you first get into fashion designing and what made you want to get into it? Was there something that sparked your interest or was it something that was always in you?
I have always wanted to be a fashion designer, ever since I was 11 years old. When I was younger, I used to watch my grandmother and my mom sew. I would get my mom to make clothes for my Barbie dolls and then I would use the leftover fabrics from my mom and drape them around my dolls. So I guess there was always something in me destined to follow this path and it was also something that made me happy.
As you started growing your label what were some hurdles you had to overcome?
I had graduated from Ryerson with a degree in Fashion in 2013 and was like ‘now what?” I didn’t want to start a label right from the get-go, but rather gain experience in the industry by working under another designer. Alas, it was not that easy to get a job in fashion, and one that paid too. I started my own label not really knowing what I was getting myself into. I started from my parents' basement, then 2 years later opened up my showroom.
How would you describe your label today?
The label perfectly melds both sides of who I am: I am Canadian and Indian; the collections I create are a perfect meld of my cultural backgrounds.
"The Garden of Desire | erised" was the name of your most recent collection, we loved the entire atmosphere of your runway. Tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind choosing a garden and adding the very scenic backdrop to the runway.
I wanted guests to feel like they were walking into the actual garden of desire | erised . The collection inspiration comes from the story that my best friend Raz Soos wrote about a girls journey into finding self-love. Imagery wise, we both pictured her taking a stroll in a beautiful garden when she comes upon a mirror and sees herself in it. This also comes from the mirror of ‘erised’ from Harry Potter, which said that the happiest person on earth would stare into the mirror and see themselves and only them. This fell perfectly into the story that was written for the collection.
We also loved the array of colors that you used in your pieces, what was the inspiration behind incorporating such vibrant reds, pinks and greens?
All these colours are colours you would see in a garden, and the reds and pink are symbolic of love. The green is symbolic of growth and coming into your own.
Photo: Rita Labib
In your runway you focused on the woman and the journey to discovering self-love - which you mentioned. How did that narrative resonate with you and why did you decide to take your collection down that path?
I think the narrative is important to show girls and women how important it is to love yourself. I wanted women to leave the show feeling empowered.
What are some things that you would say have helped you become successful over the years of designing?
I am fortunate enough to say that I have the best support system around. My family and my friends have all been there for me and helped me get to where I am. I could not have done it without my parents' unconditional support and love. I also think it helps that I have carved out my own niche market by creating designs that are unique and push the boundaries.
What do you see for the future of your label? What can we expect in the next few years?
I would like to open up flagship stores internationally. I have my flagship store already in Brampton and an online store that ships worldwide, but it would be a dream to have one in Los Angeles, London and Mumbai.
Is there any advice you would give to aspiring designers in Toronto who may be looking to create their own label?
I think its really important to make yourself stand out from the crowd because that's how you will get noticed. Do something that feels true to you.
Photo: Rita Labib
And now we get into our personal segment, how would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is very laid back. You can always find me in my runners, sweats and a sweater. I love to be comfortable.
Who would you say you look up to most in the fashion community? Who would you love to collaborate with if given the chance?
I have always said that I have 3 fashion icons: Coco Chanel for her class; Karl Lagerfeld for his work ethic; and the late Lee McQueen for his rebellious aesthetic. I would also love to one day be the head designer for another major brand.
What can you be found doing when you aren’t designing?
When I am not designing and running a business you can find me relaxing and watching Netflix.