Tag Archives: Leigh’s

GR to NYC: A Designer’s Journey

 

 

BY :: SPARKLY STELLAFLY
PHOTOGRAPHER :: TIM MOTLEY

At Thursday night’s Couture for a Cure, which benefited the Van Andel Institute, guests were treated to the premiere of New York designer Daniel Vosovic’s Spring and Summer 2013 collection. The Sparkly Stellafly had an opportunity to sit down with Vosovic on the eve of the show and talk to him about his journey from Grand Rapids to New York.

Daniel spent most of his childhood living in East Grand Rapids, where he biked to Breton Village Mall whenever he could. His family later moved to Lowell, and he excelled as a competitive gymnast until he retired at 18 years old. He went to college to study architecture but found the program to be much too structured and too long for his taste. So, on a whim he decided to take a sewing course. As he learned to take a piece of fabric and turn it into an article of clothing, he began to think that fashion could be a career. However, he knew that he would have to make the move from Lowell to NYC to make this happen.

So Vosovic went to New York after talking with a cousin who lived there and was attending the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). As Daniel began his time at FIT, he found it refreshing to be surrounded by like-minded individuals. He was accepted into an Italian exchange program and moved to Florence, where his entire outlook on design and fashion was changed with just one design lesson. They were given one piece of fabric cut into a specific shape and asked to design a dress, top, skirt, or whatever they chose with just that one piece of fabric. This forced him to think outside the box and challenge the traditional “rules” of clothing design.

Daniel returned to NYC and completed the 2-year program at FIT in just one year, and four days after graduating he was auditioning for Project Runway’s second season. This was his big break. He was 24-years old and his “first job” was showing his work in front of an audience of 3 ½-4 million people who were watching the show, and the judges on the show who were very influential in the fashion industry. He was selected as first-runner-up that season, and his first runway show during New York Fashion Week was attended by Vogue, Barney’s, and Bergdorf Goodman (just to name a few). His career had gone from 0 to 60 in just a matter of what seemed like minutes, a rarity for the fashion industry.

However, when Vosovic began to think about it, he realized that he was actually becoming more famous than his clothing. He stepped back and before pushing forward and creating another new line, Daniel decided he needed to go back and work for someone, get the nitty-gritty experience he had missed by going on the reality show. So, he began working in large companies as a third assistant and smaller companies as a creative director.

All of those experiences have made him what he is today—a hard-working, in-the-trenches, leader. As I watched him backstage on Thursday evening, I saw his nervousness turn to excitement as he saw the models lined up in his designs. It was evident that he has found his true calling in life and is a real-life example of what happens when you find your passion and pursue it.

When I asked him what his goals were now, he said he would like to be the next Ralph Lauren. He wants to create an experience with his fashion, and would love fashion to lead him to other things such as film and home design. I have no doubt that he will do all of that and more, and look forward to seeing what the future brings his way.

To learn more about Daniel Vosovic, visit his website: http://www.danielvosovicny.com
Daniel Vosovic on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Daniel-Vosovic/


Couture for a Cure: Through a Creative’s Eyes


BY :: SPARKLY STELLAFLY
PHOTOGRAPHER TIM MOTLEY

On Thursday night, fashion took center stage on the Medical Mile, as over 400 people arrived at the Van Andel Institute for the seventh annual Couture for a Cure. The first floor of this world-class research facility was transformed into a scene from New York Fashion Week for this event, which raised thousands of dollars to support the life-changing scientific research that takes place in the floors above. After a reception that included a wide variety of hors d’ouevres and cocktails, the crowd moved to the seats along the runway for a fashion show put on by Leigh’s at Breton Village mall, and which featured the spring 2013 line by Daniel Vosovic, the NYC designer who was born and raised right here in West Michigan.

But this event did not just happen overnight. It was a year in the making. Planning began just days after the 2011 event, and a key player in the execution of the annual event since its inception in 2006 has been Patrick Plank, Creative Director and Director of Visual Merchandising for Leigh’s. His position covers a wide scope of work, from creating window displays for the store to spending time in New York City on buying trips for clients. He was the perfect person to talk to in West Michigan about orchestrating a large fashion show, and I was grateful to have the opportunity to spend some time watching him in action and hearing about how he got to where he is today.

I arrived at Leigh’s on the eve of Couture for a Cure, and walked back to see Patrick, who was wrapping up a day of model fittings. He told me there would be 16 models, each showing four different looks—Bond Bombshells, a tribute to the 50th anniversary of James Bond; Colorful Characters, because “color is big this year” according to Plank; Rock-Her, some rock-and-roll styles; and After Hours Diva, which would showcase this season’s evening wear looks. I watched as he put together just the right looks for each model and made sure that each look was complimented by the right shoes, bag, and accessories. There was energy in the fitting area that could not be missed, and Plank never slowed down. As I spoke with him I could see the wheels turning in his head, thinking about what else he could do to make the event even more special.

Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Patrick Plank once had aspirations of becoming an elementary school teacher. While in high school, he had his first experiences in retail at North Kent Mall, which gave him the experience he needed to get a job at Jacobson’s in 1992, while taking classes at Grand Rapids Community College and Kendall College of Art and Design. For three years he worked in sales, starting in the boys clothing department, then men’s clothing, and then the women’s shoe department. It was around that time he began to use his art background and helped to create displays in the store, eventually earning him the title of Visual Merchandise Manager, a position he held until Jacobson’s closed its doors.

After Jacobson’s closed, Plank took initiative and the experience he had acquired and started his own company, P2 Merchandise Presentations. His clients included Leigh’s and Fitzgerald’s Men’s Store in Breton Village Mall, as well as Woodland Mall and Wolverine Worldwide. In 2005, Larry Leigh asked Patrick to come on board full-time. Seven years later, he still loves his work as much as he did when he began, and is very excited about the increased interest in fashion in West Michigan. Couture for a Cure began as a small fashion show in Leigh’s and last night filled the Van Andel Institute venue to its capacity. Plank said he sees that this area has, “an increased awareness of fashion” and that people are “treating the event like a fashion event and truly dressing for the event.”

Couture for a Cure has become just that—a fashion event. And much of that has to do with the vision of Patrick Plank. From creating a longer runway and having more models on that runway than ever before, to creating a truly theatrical experience with amazing lighting, music, and even props for the Bond Bombshell segment, the entire show was a work of art.

Thursday night, I arrived and was able to see in real-life what I had heard about the night before. But in real-life, it was so much better. I watched Patrick in action throughout the evening, before the show began, making sure that everything surrounding the show was picture perfect—looking through each look on the racks backstage, making sure the lighting was just right, and checking in on all of the models in hair and makeup. He not only selects the clothing, he manages the staff, works with the production company, and finalizes the music for the show. With all of these responsibilities, I was amazed at how calm and collected he seemed…ready for anything.

Watching a fashion show from alongside the runway is a completely different experience than what is seen backstage. Thursday night’s show required each girl to have four or five looks, depending on whether they were part of the Daniel Vosovic show. They had all of about 2 minutes in between each look to change into their next outfit, line up, and have Patrick take one last careful look at them before they start to walk the runway again. Last minute adjustments are made, such as adding a brooch, clipping a piece of clothing with a binder clip to make it tighter, or helping a model get into her impossibly high heels and ready to walk the runway.

As the last girl came off the stage after the finale, I saw Patrick have a deep sigh of relief and a smile on his face, as I’m sure he knew that once again, he had just created something incredible. The applause and cheers from the audience was proof of that. He had created just the experience that he wanted it to be for everyone there.

When I asked Patrick what he would be doing after the night was over, he said he would relax, take some time for himself, and then begin preparing for the 2013 Couture for a Cure.

If you are looking for the latest in today’s fashion trends, stop into Leigh’s and see all of the wonderful things they have to offer. And to see all of the wonderful work that is happening at the Van Andel Institute, check out their website at www.vai.org.