An Interview with Concept Designer, Chanel Vincelli
By Priscilla Kosseim, Accounting, Carleton University
CHANEL VINCELLI IS A 26-YEAR-OLD CONCEPT DESIGNER WORKING FOR DYNAMITE IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY.
I first met Chanel in January 2011 when I was working as a Sales Consultant for Unique Stockroom in Montreal. I was very impressed with her professionalism and I must admit, I was even more impressed with her pull. Chanel has always had impeccable taste and vision in fashion. Since her time at Unique as a Womenswear Buyer and then Visual Merchandiser, Chanel has held multiple positions from Social Media Marketer, through Visual Merchandiser and Brand Manager, all the way through Concept Designer at companies like Ralph Leroy, BCBG Max Azria, Aldo Group, Female Department, Michael Kors and Dynamite Group.
In this interview, I asked Chanel specific questions about what it’s like to be a designer in the fashion industry, dispel a few common misconceptions that aspiring designers tend to have about the field, her recommendations for women in the industry, how she markets herself in the industry and more. Here’s what she had to say:
1. Describe your style in 3 words.
"Real, extra (according to my sister) and evolving."
2. At what age were you captivated by fashion?
"Around the age that I thought it was a good idea to wear camouflage sweatpants and a black t-shirt with a bedazzled cross on it. (!!!) But seriously speaking, I left my original major in Communications at Vanier College after 3 weeks to enroll in Fashion Marketing at LaSalle College the following semester. I took the risk at 17 because I knew I didn’t want to wait another three years to start. Also, being obsessed with The Devil Wears Prada may have had something to do with it!"
3. How did you prepare for a career in styling?
"When I read this question, I find the funny thing is that, I’ve been unknowingly styling everyone I know my entire life. I’ve always loved that my friends and family came to me for advice on what to wear to anything from a first date to a wedding or a job interview. There’s an unspoken understanding among my family that I’ll style them for an event before I even dress myself! So to answer the question, I believe you should love styling without having a monetary value associated to it. WORK IN RETAIL. As a salesperson, you’ll get to style people every day, all day long. It’s the best experienced you can have. And social media is a priceless platform to showcase different outfits and to brand your self as a stylist."
4. What challenges do you face as a Concept designer?
"Communication and trying to please everyone are constant challenges. Styling isn’t only about putting together a nice outfit. It’s about understanding what the customer’s needs are, interpreting them and keeping the brand looking fresh and elevated. Most of the time, you’re styling the same few major pieces in a collection week after week. The challenge is discover new ways to style the piece and make it look new. (Even though you were over it three weeks ago and never want to see it again!)"
5. What is your classic go-to business look?
"I don’t care what anyone says but fashion allows you to take a lot of risks. If you’re working in any fashion office, there really isn’t a uniform. One rule to always keep in mind (for any office really) is don’t show too much skin and short shorts are always a hard 'hell no'. The classicist in me will forever appreciate a killer blazer. It’s a key for any woman to carry in her wardrobe. Invest in this piece because it will take you from jeans to dress, office to date night in a beat."
6. How do you stay updated on current trends?
"I remember walking in to my first fashion business class and my professor told the class to go toWomen’s Wear Daily and make sure to check it every day. It’s a great tool to stay current not only on trends but about any business and retail news.
I am and always will be consumed by magazines. Vogue, Porter, Elle are my all times favourites. Blogs like whowhatwear, TheEdit - Net a Porter, are helpful as well as Vogue.com. One cue you can’t type into your search bar or buy at Chapters is keeping an eye out on streetstyle and how it now influences the runways. Fifty years ago, it was the runways dictating to the consumer what to wear. That has shifted drastically.
One tip is to not only narrow your attention to fashion news and trends but absorb all other news as much as possible because everything that is happening in the world will somehow affect fashion in one way or another. If you know about it, you have that much more of an edge on your competitor."
7. What trends are you loving from Dynamite right now?
"Layering (see 'The Art of Layering' video below)! Anything silky and anything with a bell sleeve detail."
8. What is the biggest misconception that people not working in your field have about your job?
"That we flip through magazines all day long and anyone can work in fashion. This just isn’t an industry for the faint of heart. You have to be able to separate your personal tastes from your work and always be ready for an entire project or environment to change on a dime. And you need to be ready to change with it and come up with new ideas all the time."
9. Who are your style icons?
"As of last week, everything Amy Adams wore in Nocturnal Animals. Sandra Dee after her makeover, Jackie Kennedy when she added Onassis to the end of her name and travelled to Greece, Victoria Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker, the Olsen Twins, Kate Bosworth, Maja Wyh."
10. Who is your favourite designer? Why?
"Before I tell you my favourite designer of all time, I have to tell you I’m obsessed with what Maggie Marilyn and Ellery are doing. They’re new designers and they play with wide sleeves and extra flare pants. Just one piece from them will instantly elevate any outfit.
My favourite designers of all time are Versace and Valentino Garavani (when Valentino was still head of his couture house.) There is just something about the history behind these two iconic Italian names that will always bring nostalgia to every piece I see from them."
11. Name the top three things that are must-haves in your styling kit?
"Keep in mind adding a third piece to any outfit is the trick to looking 'put together' at all times. Always have one message you want to project to the world and always be confident and comfortable in whatever you’re wearing. If you’re not, even the most expensive and perfectly styled outfit will look weak and unpolished without the confidence to carry it."
12. What do you like most out of your current position as Concept Designer at Dynamite Group?
"My position allows me to create and pitch new ideas everyday. The challenges with every project and how far we could push the boundaries are inspiring. My team is incredible because they’re constantly open to new ideas, which is rare to find in most companies."
13. What styling advice would you give other women?
"Always dress for yourself and don’t be afraid to try new trends or styles. Life is too short to wear a uniform for the rest of your life! If ever you don’t know what to wear, always have a go-to look in case of emergencies. Always remember to make any look simple yet, significant."
14. What goals do you wish to achieve in the future?
"I will continue to inspire people with anything I work on or put out. I’ll write a book, travel the world and become a Creative Director."