By: Alicia Brothers
Jay Calderin, Founder and Executive Director of Boston Fashion Week, recently quoted on the BFW blog, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead. In a little over a week the Boston fashion community, certainly committed, will come together for a fashion scene that is sure to leave its mark.
Boston is rich in its own fashion industry that is constantly evolving as students and local designers alike create trends that have revolutionized Boston style. Boston Fashion Week provides an arena for some of these local designers to showcase their designs and grow their industry network. The beauty of this event, now in its 25th year, is that any and all designers can submit their show to appear on the official event schedule.
Details are everything when it comes to planning and executing this show stopping event, and the two individuals that spearhead some of Boston Fashion Week’s key events leave no detail unaccounted for. We were able to speak with both Jay Calderin and Terri Mahn and learn a little more about their vision and inspiration for the coming weeks.
First, why don’t you tell us how you met and what passions brought the two of you together? How do you play off one another’s strengths in the fashion industry?
Jay: “I don’t recall the first time I met Terri. I know that I did know about her before we met because she had a great reputation as a stylist. Our passion was the same, fashion and community. From the beginning she has recognized the importance of collaborations and building a community.”
“I think we have fine tuned a way of developing projects over the years. Terri has a trained eye for aesthetics and a wonderful sense of play when it comes to putting things together, whether it’s an outfit or a team. When I work with Terri I’m free to concentrate on how to frame the big picture storytelling and design the logistics of a project.”
Terri: “I think somewhere in the past Jay and I are related – I told him this early on as a lot of our ideas are kismet. He also laughs at my quirky quips which gives me great pleasure. Jay is a true educator to his core which I admire.”
In Boston Fashion Week’s 25th Anniversary year the mission behind the brand is more important than ever. Can you tell us a little bit about what was the driving vision behind the mission statement, “Boston Fashion is Smart”? How do you hope this mission statement weaves into this year’s Boston Fashion Week’s events?
“Boston fashion is smart” is really just a reflection of what is at the heart of fashion in Boston. It became evident to me after years of being asked, “What is Boston fashion? We realized that we needed to observe, listen, and ultimately embrace the things that we had initially thought were not fashion. The focus here is on science, technology, education, business, and the arts. Each of those things helps define Boston fashion. One prime example is how science and technology are becoming the new frontier when it comes to fashion – performance fabrics, wearable technologies, and virtual/augmented reality to name just a few. Every city has a fashion identity. Paris fashion is steeped in tradition. London fashion has a reputation for being young and rebellious. Boston fashion is smart!”
Teri, Dependable Cleaners is overjoyed to be a sponsor of The Process event which is a spotlight on the region’s next generation of fashion talent. As the leader of this event, what is your inspiration behind this event? What do you hope the event conveys to local up and coming talent?
Terri: “I wanted to create a bookend to the opening night celebration of 25 years. An event that people would be interested in going to and not say “I went to Opening Night what am I going to see different”.
“The Process would be where we are going in the future. It’s an opportunity for the 4 colleges to showcase their best and brightest students. I go to the graduate shows and am always amazed at the level of talent in our own backyard – so this is my opportunity to bring them all together under one roof. The audience will be able to see the quality of our local design programs and I hope will be an inspiration to future designers. We encourage all ages to come to this event.”
GlamSlam is a storytelling event hosted by the notoriously glamorous comedian, Bethany VanDelft, that will take place at WBUR’s CitySpace. This event will be full of local fashion professionals sharing significant moments in their careers that will inspire and warm the hearts of the audience. Can you both share a moment in your career that has been truly meaningful and rewarding?
Jay: “One of the most recent moments actually spans three years and revolves around a very special little black dress. Malia Lazu asked me to be a part of the Fashion Accessibility Project. I was tasked with designing a dress for paralympian Dr. Cheri Blauwet to wear in a fashion show. The whole process became an incredible learning experience that now influences how I design and how I teach fashion to my students. I’ll never forget how Cheri worked that dress on the runway in her wheelchair! That dress has just been acquired by the Peabody Essex Museum as part of their permanent collection and will be on display as part of the inaugural exhibition in the Iris & Carl Apfel Fashion and Design Gallery of the PEM’s new wing which opens on Saturday, September 28th.”
Terri: “I created an event for BFW called “Expression” where I asked 10 photographers to shoot black and white portraits of the Boston & RI fashion community of fashion designers, fashion photographers, makeup artists, hairstylists, wardrobe stylists, prop stylists, retailers, boutique owners and lovers of fashion. They shot over 250 portraits and we had an attendance of over 750. It was a Fashion Reunion that night! I was thrilled. I was also humbled by the generous amount of time that the photographers and subjects gave up to create the images.”
Are there any up and coming artists in the fashion industry you are really excited to help introduce to the world during Boston Fashion Week? What sets them apart and how do they exemplify “Boston Fashion is Smart”?
Jay: “It’s hard to pick just a few. There are so many of them, each for a different reason.”
Terri: “ I am pleasantly surprised at the total amount of Local Designers that photographer Tracy Aiguier & I had shot for the photo presentation Opening Night and the variety of garments. It was fun for me to pull from the designers archives too for the live presentation.
They are smart as they have found all different ways to create their businesses – online & online platforms like Etsy, social media, brick & mortar stores, artist studios, fashion pop ups, made to order – you name it they’ve created their niche.”
What would you like to tell artists and designers that are planning on attending Boston Fashion Week? What do you hope that they get out of this memorable and exciting event?
Jay: “I would challenge everyone to make an effort. Learn more about all the exciting fashion professionals who call this region home. Show up for each other. Boston Fashion Week provides many unique opportunities to connect, collaborate and create. Get involved!”
Terri: “ I want them to celebrate their achievement of being part of the Boston Fashion Community. I also hope they make connections with photographers, stylists, makeup & hair artists, jewelry & shoe designers and other fashion designers – we all share the same struggles and can learn and collaborate with each other. It’s much more fun to be a part of a bigger something than just a solo visitor passing through.”
I hope we’ve inspired you to grab your tickets to some of best BFW events yet, you can find a full schedule of events here. You’ll find everything from Fashion Tales Jr. where Jay Calderin will meet with little fashionistas for story-time and a fashion art activity at the Boston Public Library, to Prophecy, a beautiful fashion showcase of designers that are creatively talented, accomplished and extremely energetic about sharing their vision of style. Boston Fashion Week is about the community and will give you a beautiful look into what really defines “smart fashion.” Hope to see you there!