Your Stories: From the beginning
In this mini series, we’re heading back in time to the original stories published. The fourth story, featuring Chanel-Monet, was published in February 2017.
Picture this - you have a passion for fashion that's just waiting to burst from it's hidden depths and explode on to the fashion scene with a sell-out launch event. You're living away from home to study in London, and although you're on a course that doesn't quite feel right for you, it's okay, because you're learning a lot about yourself along the way. You start to realise you're true calling, which is when you begin to dip your toes into the industry you really want to be part of. Then life leads you back home to Birmingham and it's time to get an ordinary job for the time being, but not for long...
Things start rolling in the right direction when you start an enterprise programme - it's time to build that dream! While working as an au-pair during summertime, you keep the kids entertained by building fortresses on the farm you're living on, and any spare time you have is spent with the sketchpad designing til the sun sets. How picturesque can the beginning of a dream career get?
Today I'm bringing you the story of Chanel-Monet, designer of the newly launched fashion label EL MONET. I went to meet Chanel at the Custard Factory in Birmingham, where I spent a little time at Jonteri Studios shooting with her. Above is just a quick overview of Chanel's story, but why not stick around to find out the full story?
Chanel-Monet grew up around two very fashion oriented women, her mum and nan. Chanel spoke to me about how her nan would love to attend events, and each one would be attended wearing a dazzling new outfit to celebrate the occasion. This influence of fashion is something Chanel grew up around, but it didn't quite make it to the forefront until she went to university.
“I studied theatre production at London for about a year and a half. It was a really good experience because although I wasn’t so in tune with my course, I was doing things outside of the course. I was styling a couple of people that were artists out there, I also had an internship with a music company.”
After dropping out of university in March 2013, Chanel moved back to Birmingham and got her first paid job at a hotel. As you can imagine, this wasn't the ideal job she wanted which is why Chanel went to The Prince's Trust to start an enterprise programme. This was just the step needed to set Chanel's dream of becoming a designer into motion. Although Chanel is self-taught when it comes to designing and using the sewing machine she knew she needed to learn certain new skills, which is why she started a pattern cutting course. This is how she met Tereza Johnson of Jonteri Studios, who is now part of her production team.
“Tereza Johnson taught me how to actually make the templates and patterns for the garments that are my designs. So being on that journey with her, it’s built up a relationship and I trust her opinion. She’s able to add those extra elements to the garments to just make them really stand out.”
All of the hard work payed off, because the EL-MONET launch event in November 2016 was a huge success and showcased the Autumn/Winter collection. This collection is bold with it's use of colour and design, and Chanel's aim with her debut collection is to empower women from all walks of life.
“The launch went really well. We were sold out which was pretty cool. There were people standing which is always great because it means there a no more seats left! It didn’t sink in til a week after when I was in the Netherlands. I got an email from ASOS saying that we’d got accepted for a boutique which was awesome. It was really nice to have that happen just literally a week after the launch.”
With such a great launch in the bag, what's next for the brand? Chanel is keen to explore and experience as many Fashion Weeks as she can, with her eyes firmly set on London this year, and New York and Milan after that. The Spring/Summer '17 collection is already underway, and the Autumn/Winter '17 collection is being designed. Once the brand has gained worldwide recognition, Chanel's aim for the EL MONET brand is to open boutiques around the world
“I think that probably the end goal, definitely to have a branch once the brand is fully established worldwide. I think it will be a great move to start getting walk in stores so that people can actually come in and try some things on rather than just getting them all online, and it makes it a little bit more personal.”
Another vision Chanel has is to allow everyone to purchase from it because she doesn't like the idea of women having to save for months in order to purchase a garment. For this reason you can expect price tags that are more affordable, but also a more exclusive range for women who want a bit more luxury.
THE MODEL HUB:
In the early stages of her brand Chanel also set up a Model Hub because she recognised that she couldn't always find the models she needed for shoots. During the Clothes Show in 2014 the EL MONET team where scouting models, but when they started to talk to some of the young women Chanel discovered how many were being scammed and saw this as an opportunity to support the models by educating them about the industry.
“What we wanted to do with the Model Hub was to help educate these girls on certain things, and help get them work elsewhere, other than just EL MONET because we want people to grow and I feel people won’t reach their full potential unless they’re experiencing other things with other people.”
The models that Chanel supports not only get to work for EL MONET, but they've also been signed to an agency called Supernova Model Management.
One thing that I've learnt from Chanel's story is that your destiny will always find a way to lead you on the right path. Chanel is an inspiration to me because of how hard she's worked to get to this point in her life, and I hope that this story as well as all my previous ones inspire you to never stop believing and dreaming.
Photographer: Yasmin Qureshi