|written by Linda Gaylard
The Twenty Third Annual Genie Awards are approaching and from my vantage point it is the start of a busy month of fittings, gown selections, jewellery and evening bag decisions.
With new clients, instilling confidence in my abilities can be tedious but is necessary when a celebrity’s career is fastened to their image of themselves. My mandate: excellence in Canadian fashion matched with excellence in Canadian film.
Thursday: Teri Hart has been selected as the host of the Genie pre-show, and two on-air presentations. She hosts “At the Movies”, on The Movie Network and Family Channel. Hers is the world of movie junkets and the pursuit of the insightful interview.
I will see if she’d like my help again this year. I’ll be able to bypass the agent and work with her directly. It is satisfying when someone like Teri wants to wear a Canadian design.
Friday: I give Teri a call. She‘s happy to be first in line for the gown selection process.
I learn that she is getting married in a few months and her wedding gown is “pouffy”, so she would prefer “sleek” for the Genies. We discuss my fee and who we’ll be meeting. I speak to David Dixon and Thien Le and they are onboard for Monday. I explain that since Teri is slim, we can probably work with their samples. Some sample gowns have only been worn on the runway, as show stoppers or finale pieces. Some are never produced. If we are successful on Monday, Teri will be giving the gown its public debut at the Genies.
Monday – Teri and I meet in the lobby of David Dixon’s building in downtown Toronto. It’s snowing and she’s clutching a coffee. We walk up the four flights to David’s studio. I’m slightly winded when David greets us with his quiet charm. He gives us a tour of his Spring/Summer 2003 collection: black organza French-seamed slip dresses over pale blue taffeta, black spider-web lace over white, delicate blue flower printed pant suits and feathered tops and skirts. They are still and pristine, hanging on racks just waiting to be touched and fitted. Teri moves closer to do just that.
We talk about Teri’s role at the Genies.. Since she has multiple duties that night, I joke about costume changes, but we know that one gown will suffice. We begin with a long black number in crushed and folded taffeta – a sort of anarchy of origami. David could loosen the back slightly, lower the neckline, but we hesitate. Next a sweet black jersey dress– too casual we decide. We look briefly at the lace. Our eyes lock on a silk georgette asymmetrical top with one feathered sleeve. Teri tries it on and we love it. It is black, but it looks great on her and nothing will convince me to dismiss it. David suggests a long skirt to match, with a matte leather yoke, side slit and trumpeted hem. We start imagining hair and jewellery. I know Teri’s happy. She has adopted an attitude, posing with hands on hips angling her face from side to side. We decide to go with this outfit unless of course we find something we love more at Thien’s.
Four blocks later, we arrive at Thien’s door. His poodles, “Needle and Thread” greet us with friendly abandon. Thien is an exciting young designer who, after only three years on the scene has wowed the fashion press. He greets us with a large smile – I’ve brought him biscotti. Thien’s studio is small. It is dominated by a busy cutting table, hanging patterns, bolts of fabric, and sketches of his work taped to the wall. I’ve been here many times and I’m used to all this gorgeous chaos, but as I glance at Teri I wonder about finding somewhere quieter for the fitting. We peek at the 2003 Fall collection – mmm, austere black cashmere. Thien helps us find the Spring gowns and we carry armloads to a makeshift fitting room next door. Thien untangles the neckpiece that dangles little wired beads down the back of a red satin gown. This colour would look great on TV, but the neck is not sitting as it should and Thien mentions that he is making a gown in the same fabric for another Genie attendee. Hmmm. We are disappointed but not discouraged. We line up the next three outfits- an ivory Grecian style gown, a pink striped suit, and an orange burn-out velvet that would become coral with the addition of a pink slip. They are lovely but either the colours aren’t working, or the fit is off.
The results here are zero for four. Nothing seems to have nudged the image of David’s plumed top from our consciousness. Our time is almost up and we say our goodbyes to Thien and his pups.
On the walk back to our cars we visualize David’s top; the way it will move as Teri walks on and off the stage. The feathers will undulate as she opens the envelopes to announce the winners. The look will be evocative of another era- perhaps the thirties, that great era of haute film style. How sleek! How debonair. Not a “pouf” in sight.