A backstage interview with designer Serena Kealy at Vancouver Fashion Week FW22, as she impresses us with her journey as a rising brand while attending university, and leads us on the creative process behind her glamor-chic collection.
This season’s Vancouver Fashion Week saw local designer Serena Kealy showcase her latest collection at the Fall/Winter 2022 runway. Kealy’s brand, Chalanse, provides luxury womenswear with a touch of “non-chalance”, inspiring a collection of combined casual feminine elegance laced with masculine and androgynous elements.
What inspired your brand?
I started my brand two years ago when I was in high school at the beginning of the pandemic. The brand name “Chalanse” is a play on the word “Nonchalance”, which means to not display interest or enthusiasm. Whereas my take on the word “Chalance” is an undeniable triumph of spirit and enthusiasm, with my namesake letter “S” replacing the letter “C”. I create luxury womenswear, very much inspired by women’s casual, and that’s how I began.
What inspired this specific collection?
As a business student myself, I love to interpret classic structural elements of typical business casual or luxury womenswear but give them nuances that are very specific to elegance and glamor. This collection was quite a journey, I’ve truly never done anything that I’m as passionate about as this collection. A lot of it is inspired by textiles and fabrics. I’m very much inspired by the different textures and colors that are presented to me in fabric stores and just in my community, and transforming them into really unique shapes, and that was how I discovered this collection.
I love glamor, so I tried to incorporate as many classically feminine elements as I could in the fabrics. You see circles and lace, but a lot of them are in more typically androgynous or masculine shapes, so, structured collars and shoulderpads. Even pleather has a little bit more grit to it, so combining those things to create a really wonderful juxtaposition was important to me when creating this collection.
What’s your creative process like?
Honestly, a lot of trial and error. I love experimenting, and I draft all my own patterns as well. Once I create a prototype, I go in and edit my flat patterns or my draping on mannequins. I check out the fabric stores, see if anything is speaking to me, and most importantly I follow my heart. I think that letting your soul guide you when you create art that is fashion is so important because it’s a display of yourself. It’s something so personal and so intimate, when you’re presenting how you want to express yourself and your brand to the world.
Is there a brand or an artist from whom you channel inspiration?
I’m so inspired by my fellow creatives. Globally, I’m very inspired by Alexander Mcqueen, and Harris Reed is a big inspiration to me on gender fluidity. I’m inspired by the upcoming talent I’ve seen in Vancouver Fashion Week – there’s so many incredible, local artists. I’m so excited to see Alex. S Yu’s show tonight. He’s like a long-time favorite of mine and I’ve been attending this event for a long time now, so I’m excited to see him. Throughout the show though, I’ve been impressed by every single designer. It’s so incredible to see the age ranges of designers as well, as you are learning from people who are almost like mentors to you in the local fashion community.
What’s the vision of the future of your brand?
I would love for Chalanse to really display a new take on fashion globally, and show that you can be unique, and that it’s ok to dress up for normal life. Fashion is for everyday. Dressing luxurious is fun. Fashion is fun, it’s self-expression! My take on it is very glamorous, I love being decked out just everyday at school. I would love to take Chalanse to New York, and Paris, and just every fashion week around the world. Long time goal, I would love to go to the Met Gala.
Is there anything you want to add about yourself, or about your brand?
Just that I’m incredibly grateful, not only for this opportunity, but for the people that have helped me get here. Fashion is community, fashion is art, and fashion is love, and I think centering gratitude in all of these events, not only locally but globally, is what drives the fashion community forward.
Thank you to Serena Kealy for chatting with us about your experience as a young designer breaking into the fashion community, and sharing your vision of glamor with us. We are eager to see how glamor will continue to evolve with your looks!