By Natasha Ramjohn

Nobody knew what to expect from Fashion Shoot Extravaganza, the new event, organized and executed by Marie Copps (Copps Productions Ltd.), but when it happened, it definitely exceeded the highest expectations. Bringing together fashion design, production, makeup, styling, photography, and theatre, Marie Copps and her team successfully executed one of the most impressive and fascinating events that Toronto has ever seen. Beyond Fashion Magazine captured it perfectly!

There’s an appetite among Canadians for more in the world of fashion and Marie Copps, executive director, delivered with this unique, trend-setting, experiential event, Fashion Shoot Extravaganza (FSE), held February 2nd, 2019 at Daniels Spectrum in Toronto. Guests were invited into a realm of pure fashion and fantasy. It was sensory overload from the moment you entered the venue, from the beautiful, rose-embellished red carpet backdrop designed for photo ops to the VIP “behind the scenes” room where guests had an opportunity to walk among and take photos as stylists, make-up artists, and photographers emulated a mocked up pre-editorial model prep. The pièce de résistance was revealed on an elaborate, opulent set, staged with huge panels and pillars, in a theatrical production featuring models, make-up artists, stylists, and photographers, hosted by none other than Melissa Grelo and Jess Allen of CTV The Social.

So how was this unique idea born? Fashion and accessory designer, Marie Copps, has had her fair share of magazine editorials, featuring her evening gowns and elaborate, jewelled-adorned head and neckpieces. She has always loved editorial shoots but felt that there was an injustice because the full story, the beautiful chaos behind the scenes, is never presented and the full talent is rarely highlighted. Marie is always in awe of how people from different artistic talent and background, come together to contribute their passion to create something very magical – the magazine editorial story.

Her vision was to capture and showcase what happens “behind the scenes” of a high-fashion magazine editorial, in a very creative, engaging, entertaining way. She wanted to provide a platform for those who generally do not get credited (makeup artists, hair stylists, nail artists, creative directors, set designers, and photographers) to be the stars of the show, to be in the spotlight. Anna Wintour aptly captured the behind the scene elements of a high-fashion magazine editorial in R J Cutler’s documentary, September Issue, where the camera brought the audience into a world that the readers generally do not see. Recognizing that our fashion audience has changed and that today, a simple fashion show no longer suffices, Marie envisioned something more immersive with dazzling theatrics and glamorous settings to engage the new generation of fashionistas…something Instagrammable!

Being her first production, this was a huge, overwhelming endeavour and thinking it was one thing but executing it, quite another. Laughing, she talked about how the movies, Ocean’s 8 and Bohemian Rhapsody, influenced her, both in the approach she took and the inspiration she received. She watched Ocean’s 8 four times, taking notes from Cate Blanchett’s and Sandra Bullock’s approach to pulling off the perfect crime, not to mention the fashion-driven visual takeaways from the Met Gala event. Watching Bohemian Rhapsody six times, yes, six times, she learned from Freddy Mercury about building courage and confidence and how to approach her project.

By November, panic and frustration set in. There was still so much to do and Marie still did not know exactly how she would bring her vision to life. Because this was a unique concept with so many different elements, it was a challenge simply in conveying it to collaborators, but much to Marie’s surprise, Li and Vondett got it right away.  She knew the four themes that she wanted to portray – Whimsical, Elegant Wedding, Millionaire Lavish Party, and Burlesque/Fetish but it was the talented Li and Vondett who came up with the idea of a four-chapter story of a young, innocent girl who gets tainted by society. This is depicted in a scene with the young girl enjoying an elegant tea party with friends, clearly enchanted by the wonderment of life.  We then see an older version of the young girl enjoying a social life and getting married. The scene then transitions to a somewhat darker tone as we see the young woman falling into temptation at a lavish millionaire’s party and then a fetish/burlesque party. Quoting Li Vondett: “I’m so grateful for meeting Marie Copps with her unreal talent, amazing energy, artistic, and exceptional organizational skills.” What differentiated this show from other fashion shows is seeing the talent behind the scene, (the make-up artists, photographers, stylists) integrated within the scene.

Finally, the big day arrived! With very little sleep, nervous and anxious with still so much to do, driving to Daniel Spectrum, she turned on the radio and to her utter surprise, Freddy Mercury singing We Are the Champions came on the radio. Bringing tears to her eyes, she thanked Freddy Mercury and took it as a sign that all will be ok – “He did it, we can do it too!”

The culmination of almost two years of planning came to fruition! Guests were blown away by the sheer magnitude of Fashion Shoot Extravaganza. As City Sophisticate describes it “Fashion Shoot Extravaganza has done to the traditional fashion show what Cirque de Soleil did to the traditional circus many years ago. Marie Copps, the mastermind behind this event, has turned the world of fashion inside out…or to be more exact, she has pulled back the curtain so that we, the audience, can take a peek behind it to see what goes into creating the moment of perfection.”  According to Toronto Guardian, “In a time when one fashion show can blend into another, the general consensus was that the eye-opening spectacle for the senses won’t soon be forgotten. ”

Our immense gratitude goes to all the incredible designers, photographers, stylists, models and production team, volunteers and many sponsors who were invaluable in making this happen!

Fashion Shoot Extravaganza was an evening of luxury and fantasy and is only the beginning for Marie Copps and COPPS Productions Ltd. She already has her new concept in mind. Look out to be blown away!

By Natasha Ramjohn