Propriétaire et designer, Paul Davis
Describe your position and key responsibilities?
I am the designer and founder of the label, Paul Davis. It is a menswear label that serves the luxury menswear market. Founded in 2009, the collection is available in nine stores internationally and presents regularly during Paris and Berlin Fashion Weeks.
In collaboration with a small design team in Berlin, the key responsibilities include:
What is a typical workday in your professional life?
A typical workday involves getting up very early, certainly earlier than any rational human being. I walk the dog and clear my thoughts before the day.
I show up for work half an hour before anyone else and write a plan for the day. At 9 o'clock we have our morning meeting and tasks are delegated. We work until lunch and make sure to spend that time eating together. At the end of the day we have another quick meeting where we recap what we did and any other feedback from the day. I then sort through my contacts and reply to emails or make phone calls. After that, I attend to other business that can be accomplished outside of work hours. I usually arrive back home around 9 p.m.
In the few weeks before a collection, however, it's another story. It's upwards of 18-20 hours per day and a seemingly insurmountable amount of work. But those periods are over quickly and the result speaks for itself.
Outline your career path?
After graduating from LaSalle College, I moved to Paris to continue my studies in fashion design. At the end of my studies, I was set up with a number of "stages" with various fashion houses and magazines. I was privileged to work with journalists from L'Officiel Magazine, Uomo Vogue Magazine and the newly reopened house of Schiaparelli. In 2006, I became acquainted with menswear designer Geoffrey Small. I worked for several years as an assistant designer with Geoffrey before launching my own label in 2009.
What is your best memory of the time spent at Lasalle College?
Without a doubt, the long hours spent in the ateliers between classes are the best memories. The fashion program is extremely demanding. You are often expected to do things you've never done before and you end up pushing yourself farther than you ever thought you could go. The atelier hours are where students get together, support one another and tackle the challenges together. It is where there is a free flow of ideas and a truly palpable creative feeling. You quickly realize that there is no obstacle too great and you solidify friendships that last a lifetime.
What was your favorite subject, while in the program?
Costume history and trends were my favorite classes. They imbued the otherwise theoretical teachings with something that was alive and dynamic. I found it fascinating to learn where fashion comes from and where it is going in the future.
These courses also taught me what I think is the greatest lesson I've ever learned about fashion-- that it is not something superficial or something we can live without. It is something that is intrinsic to the human experience. All people, in all areas of the world, in every period of time, have ornamented their bodies in one way or another. It is not something that we can dismiss as irrelevant; it is a fundamental part of who we are.
Describe your general feeling during your first day, week or month of school?
I remember being nervous the first little while. Firstly, because of my capabilities: I had never sewn two pieces of fabric together, let alone constructed a tailored garment. And secondly because I was new to the city, I didn't know anyone and didn't speak the language. But those initial fears quickly dissipated and I soon found my rhythm.
Today, my garments are known for their level of construction, I have lived in two other countries and speak three languages fluently. Had I not encountered those fears when I first moved to Montreal, none of what followed would have been possible.
What advice would you give a student presently enrolled in the fashion program?
I strongly believe that there are no students in the world that are better prepared to succeed in the international fashion industry than the graduating students of LaSalle College. The combination of a comprehensive program and the city's unique identity give the students an incredible advantage.
The program is one of the most comprehensive programs I have ever seen and certainly more than other more "renowned" institutions. It provides a solid framework for students that covers all aspects of the industry and can be applied to virtually any market.
Montréal is also a very strategic location. The city strikes the perfect balance between the traditions of old-world Europe and the dynamic modernity of North America. It is a balance that many cities only wish they could achieve. The two predominant languages of the city are also the two most predominant languages of the fashion industry. Combined, English and French give access to almost half the world's population and are official languages in 83 countries. There is no combination of languages that opens as many doors.
Yet despite this advantage, Montreal designers are somewhat under-represented on the international scene. But I predict that once design students fully grasp the significance of this advantage, we will then see a wave of talent pouring out of the French-Canadian city.
What surprised you most when you entered the job market?
What surprised me most about the fashion industry is how important it is to define yourself and your principles. There is a lot of things going on in the industry, both good and bad. You must first define what you believe in and then be unwavering in your conviction.
What are the essential qualities required to succeed in the fashion world?