Canadian designer dressing celebs vegan 0
A screen shot of Dalia McPhee's website, featuring Nina Dobrev wearing a dress by the designer to the Camp Playboy Party 2011 Comic Con International in San Diego July 2011.
This is Vancouver designer Dalia MacPhee's fourth year of creating feminine, form-fitting and reasonably priced glamour gowns so I dropped in on her Los Angeles warehouse to check out the spring line.
Dynamo Dalia was there, rushing around the boxes, ensuring each colourful, bouncy gown was being shipped on schedule to clients such as Holt Renfrew, private boutique bridal shops and, in the U.S., Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Ann Taylor and Neiman Marcus.
"I'm shipping three times as many gowns as I did last year. It's a huge growth spurt and I'm trying to keep up!" chirped the 35-year-old UBC business grad.
As a marketing strategy, MacPhee decided on L.A. as a fashion base because she's been able to persuade celebrities to wear her fashion forward, vegan gowns on the red carpet.
One carton being readied for shipping was stuffed with the multi-coloured, one-shoulder party dress that Vampire Diaries actress Nina Dobrev wore recently on a red carpet.
And then there were hundreds of different colours of the purple lace number Vanessa Lengies, from Glee, wore at a pre-Oscar party.
"When celebrities wear it, everyone wants it," she said. Her biggest sellers are still the plus-size gowns that Niecy Nash, the affable host on The Insider, famously wore two seasons ago on Dancing With the Stars.
MacPhee's designs are also worn by some of the contestants on Canada's Got Talent, as well as host Measha Brueggergosman.
So, during my visit to the warehouse, I got to dish with MacPhee about who's wearing what and where and why people are still wearing one-shouldered gowns ("it's a flattering fit, especially on plus-sized women.")
As happenstance would have it, MacPhee's mother, Myrtle, was also there.
She had just flown in from Vancouver a few nights earlier.
Myrtle, with her husband Don (who unfortunately passed away earlier this year at the age of 71), ran the British Columbia-based Yofi Creations, an upscale Canadian chain store especially popular in the '70s and '80s.
"Dalia was always with me," said Myrtle, who acted as the designer for the line. "She helped with everything."
Myrtle said she always knew her daughter would be successful. But she had no idea she would be running an international garment industry that ships thousands of dresses to dozens of countries.
"Look how she runs around, so busy," Myrtle whispered while MacPhee was fielding myriad telephone calls -- from buyers suddenly changing their minds about quantities to panicked employees demanding more fabric.
"Really," Myrtle MacPhee's eyes glowed with tears. "I'm so proud of her."