How did a BC jewelry brand make it to Paris Fashion Week?
Hello, beautiful! While our blog posts are often written from the perspective of Carolily the brand or Donna the designer, I (Danielle) am going to be taking over today. As this was an adventure that deeply impacted Mom and I as individuals, we wanted to tell our story from that same perspective.
The question of how we as a small, Canadian jewelry brand found our designs walking the Paris Fashion Week runway is a valid one, and one we've been asked frequently these past few weeks. At time it feels surreal. Like a fever dream. Something that, two years ago, we would have never imagined was a possibility for us. While we did have the honour of partaking in New York Fashion Week in 2019, Paris felt otherworldly. But, it has been two glorious weeks since our show and I can confirm it did indeed happen for us. How, you ask?
August 2022- Flying Solo Outreach
I start most days wading through my inbox, deleting the dozens of spam emails that are entirely irrelevant to me. But, this particular day in August, an email caught my eye. It was an outreach email from Flying Solo, a well known PR and production team who execute Fashion Week runway shows in New York, Paris and Miami. After seeing our namesake Carolily Necklace featured in British Vogue, they wanted to know if we'd be interested in applying for their Paris Fashion Week show. Would we be INTERESTED?! You bet we are! What an opportunity to even be asked to apply!
We submitted our application early August and knew we would have a few weeks of waiting before hearing whether we had been chosen or not. We also knew that hundreds of brands from around the world were applying and competition was tough. But, we believed in our brand and Mom's artistry so deeply that we were convinced we would receive good news.
Three weeks later, that good news came! We were to officially join the Flying Solo team the following year for our Parisian debut. Now, the work began!
The Design Process
In a perfect world, Mom would have had nothing else to work on besides designing our Paris Collection. But, that's not the life of a business owner! We were given a deadline of August 1st to come up with eight one-of-a-kind sets that each included a necklace, bracelet and pair of earrings. We didn't know which fashion designer we'd be working with and wouldn't find out until the in-person fitting on September 30, 2023.
This was a much different approach than what we experienced with New York Fashion Week. For New York, we were first paired up with a fashion designer so that we could get a feel for each other's designs. While this was helpful for conceptualizing what the final looks may be, it limited Mom's design process because she now had parameters to work within.
When it came to designing for Paris, Mom had free reign to do whatever her heart desired! As the months progressed, she worked on multiple designs, fine tuning, scrapping designs entirely until the eight sets were perfection.
It was near the end of July that the collection was complete and we proudly submitted photos to the Creative Director at Flying Solo. We let out a brief sigh of relief and got to work planning our trip, what photoshoots we'd do, what we'd wear and where we would celebrate.
September 28, 2023- Takeoff
August blew by as we flew from city to city attending various B2B tradeshows in an effort to share the Carolily love with women across North America. By the time the end of September rolled around, we couldn't believe we were finally flying to Paris!
After canceled and rebooked flights, we arrived in Paris the next day to beautiful weather. Mother Nature was as excited as we were. We had the rest of the evening to relax and went to bed antsy with anticipation.
September 29- First Designer Meeting
It would seem the jet lag hit us harder than expected because we unintentionally slept for 16 hours! We woke from our deep slumber the next afternoon and began readying ourselves for the first designer meeting, which was to be held at Flying Solo's showroom in Paris.
We had the opportunity to see the showroom, have a little bubbly to celebrate, hear from the Flying Solo team how the next two days would go, and meet with other designers from all around the world. It was an incredible feeling to be around so many creatives!
September 30- Fitting Day
Out of the ten other jewelry brands, we were one of only two Canadian brands, the second being Exuberant Jewelry out of Montreal. All of the jewelry and accessory brands were asked to arrive at 9:00am to set up their collections in a way that made them easy to view. The fashion designers would then arrive two at a time and walk the floor with the Creative Director to find the jewelry brand that worked perfectly with their clothing.
To be honest, it was a nerve wracking experience. It felt a little like waiting to be picked for dodgeball in elementary school. Every brand would eventually be paired up, but not knowing who it would be was a little unsettling.
While we waited, Flying Solo conducted video interviews with the designers, and we took video footage of the fittings.
That afternoon, we were paired with Silk Epoque by Olga Ziemann, and we could not have been happier. Olga and Tatianna are a sister duo out of Poland who make the most exquisite designs, and we were giddy knowing we'd be sharing the runway the following day.
October 1- Show Day
Flying Solo's production consisted of five major shows throughout the day, each with a dozen designers per show. Each pair of designers have their own runway show within their given timeslot; ours was at 3:00pm.
When we arrived at La Galerie Bourbon, it was already bustling with hundreds of guests, models and designers. It was absolutely electric. Mom hurried to the back fitting room to begin dressing the models in her one-of-a-kind designs. She would remain in the fitting room for the majority of our runway show.
In the meantime, I was amongst the crowd working to befriend the dozens of press members who were there to take photo and video footage. It is thanks to Frank Rivers Photography that we have these gorgeous runway photos to share!
As the music swelled, our first model took the runway featuring our Amandine One-of-a-Kind Set! It was an incredible feeling to see a year of hard work come to fruition and to witness the crowd's reaction. The buzz from the cameras, chatter from the crowd and energy the models brought was intoxicating.
Model after model took to the runway until it was time for the designers to take their well deserved walk. Olga and Mom came out to a wave of applause and cheers and graciously took their moment in the spotlight. It was the proudest moment of the entire show for me.
What would a runway show be without an after party?! The Flying Solo team took over Le Carmen as the venue for our celebration. With moody lighting, original woodwork and crystal chandeliers, it was the perfect spot to raise a glass to our successful Parisian debut.
It was at the party that we had the chance to connect with industry talent including renowned costumer designer Martin Spencer of House of Spencer, breakout runway stylist and model Joshua Pasqual, and upcycling fashion designer Florent Bidois, to name a few. It was a beautiful evening filled with genuine conversations, delightful champagne, and the promise of future adventures.
Where to next?
Following our debut on the Parisian runways, we had a few days to soak in the sights, participate in a number of fabulous photoshoots (more details to come) and ready ourselves for our next big adventure as we hopped across the pond to London! It was there that we would participate in the prestigious anniversary event for Rolls Royce!
Stay tuned, ladies. We have more adventure to share.