Photos by Steven Enfelis
The great irony of the The EMC Fashion Show is that it’s not just about fashion. Yes, the show featured fashion, much in the same way other fashion shows feature simple styles or a set of hot new trends, but the branding exercise that is the The EMC Fashion Show was about so much more than dresses and accessories.
A hugely successful fundraiser in support of Arch Hospice, The EMC Fashion Show has the distinction of being both the trendsetter and most modern fashion show seen in Sault Ste. Marie in recent months. It was an extraordinarily glossy, technically savvy, more akin to a theatrical concert or gala production, than a “traditional” fashion show. It was held just before the summer season, at a time when there are no official fashion shows, but plenty of consumers looking to purchase modern outfits to meet their everyday needs. As a marketing tool, the EMC Fashion Show has no equal. What other fashion brands get a chance to display their clothing to a crowd of 500 plus people on a night out?
Jump Around featured wardrobe from H & R Lash at THE EMC Fashion Show:
The models of the show—uniquely selected by representation of age and gender —highlighted the working class of the Sault, women and men working hi paced careers like the job of a nurse and some aspiring to walk the runways for years to come. The EMC Fashion Show was so well attended that it’s almost a certainty the event will grow bigger in it’s next showcase. Prior to launching the new event and talent division within ACE Studios, I performed as a model for Elite Models in Asia from 2003-2006. This experience is almost singlehandedly responsible for my determination to inspire change in the fashion industry of Sault Ste. Marie.
It’s difficult to explain the EMC event to people who weren’t in attendance. The event accounts for a $4000 donation towards Arch Hospice, it was responsible for showcasing local brands Joire’s, Feelin’ Fabulous, H & R Lash, and Centre Stage. It received entries from top notch commercial brands Le Chateau and Tip Top Tailors, and combined video and live dancing from Elite Dance Force in a way that is arguably the most orignal presentation of fashion displayed in the city. EMC as a subsidiary division within ACE Studios has spent the last three years developing and testing a name synonymous with the concept of quality in talent and entertainment productions. A modern presence from the local brands in the city means this is the first—and, only—place to go for up scale commercial representation in the public eye. The demand is all the more impressive because it was the first ever live fashion show put on by EMC.
Despite ACE’s reputation as a “media” production company, the company works within a very wide range of talent and projects with an extreme variety of presentations, giving the image of endless choice. Almost all of their products/services are originally designed or created, in a fairly complex and inexpensive way that doesn’t require skilled outsourced talent to individually create extensive video and large choreographed portions of the show. In addition, most of the numbers were designed as; a quick scroll through musical wonderland alongside fashions from a local or corporate brand, set to video animation, music video or a creatively edited story, simply with a different song from a different time period over and over again.
The fact that the show worked well as a full presentation, despite being a new and intrinsic idea, is a masterful illusion on ACE and EMC’s part. Casual and evening styles that would be called “basic” and “uninspired” were they in any ordinary display, are transformed into editorial-worthy looks through the careful application of choreography, theme, fun props, improv dance, and inspiring video (not to mention fabulous glamorization in the hair and makeup department and amazing selections by the retailers). Several times during the show, the crowd could barely keep up with the options in video and on the live stage. How can this be a “fashion show” when the most interesting pieces in the entire event are the performances of the models and dancers, mixed with fashion and amazing commercial looks, while set to an over arching video story?
Model Kelsey Hroch pays a visit to ARCH
The show’s most positive moment, was the donation it will make to the cherished Arch Hospice located within Sault Ste. Marie. One thing that was truly unique was how EMC and ACE went far and wide in it’s presentation in video, visiting ARCH and documenting a tender moment with fundraiser Kelsey Hroch in the final stages of the shows first half. It also was one of the most diverse in age fashion shows in recent months. In a world of competitive fashion and online shopping, very few local production companies use models wiser in their years and in unique ethnicity, especially in such a short timespan to prepare for the show, yet EMC did it on it’s first try with willing participants. In addition, this year’s decision to assign first time producer Brianne Veale to helm the backend of the show is one worth applauding; It’s undeniable the positive impact this almost certainly had on the talent and fashion goers of Sault Ste. Marie. And in an industry that overtly needs change and still has the word “safe” in their vocabulary, the fact that this event went off without a hitch, has local talent and fashion goers wondering what comes next.
Dedicated to convincing the SSM public that talent can perform at a much higher level that what is taking place today, EMC has simultaneously managed to offer a unique and rewarding experience for artists, while mixing in commercial brands with a group of improv dancers in a culture that favors a safer method for producing up scale shows and events. Despite a few bad seating views and a packed ballroom on the night of the show, and it being the first ever event for EMC, it was the closest many of the performers will ever get to experiencing a fashion show of this kind. It connected to that mass desire of equality the idea that you too can be a part of that exciting, rarefied fashion world, even if only as a casual model. You too can feel like an international supermodel and if you have a need to go further, than EMC may be an option for you.
But at this point it’s hard not to feel… excited, and enthused about what was accomplished at the EMC Fashion Show, setting the ground work for a machine that will aim to present bigger and better production in years to come. High-end production, innovative ideas? Check. Dream/and Reach for the stars story narrative? Check. Detailed presentations of exclusive fashion, dance and performance? Check. Even places not known for their fashion events become surprisingly excited when it’s time for a Fashion Show. It’s because fashion is such an everyday subject that discussing it critically doesn’t do it justice?
Today seems to be an Instagram-focused era of acceptance, where certain agencies brag about not using photoshop and show makeup-free models, the EMC Fashion Show (and it’s brand strategy in general) can’t help but feel a little forward thinking, a little outside the comfort level of SSM. The “Fashion/Dance/Live Show” archetype, with its creative execution featuring models and dancers who have passion for the industry,” feels different, and the fashion-goers, charitable supporters, and brands are more suited to garner more exposure than the up-and-coming formality event your friend is bugging you to attend this weekend. In a time where people are promoting the notion of supporting our local talent, EMC and ACE’s particular brand of “Everyone is a star” is slowly but surely becoming more relevant, their expression tipping over into a uniformity that borders on a movement.
Best of all is the knowledge that the show could be better. It could feature more talent, more brands. More thought-provoking numbers. I often think back to 2001, which is one of the last events that featured a high turn out for interested models before EMC appeared to create a format that focused on what could be possible in the city we live in. There’s so much potential here, not just as a marketing tool, but also to expand the notion of what talent could be for the average aspiring resident of SSM. But come to think of it, that’s what we need, isn’t it? We need to raise the amount of opportunities for our talent to perform under, train under and create under?
Something in the way you move featured wardrobe from Joire’s at THE EMC Fashion Show: