Penhold designer Beth Anne Pedersen’s fantasy gowns were spotlighted on a New York catwalk and in magazines all because she called the wrong number.
“It was very surprising to have such a huge opportunity fall into my lap,” said the founder of Fantasy Elite Designs, who got her big break by mistake.
Pedersen called what she thought was a Red Deer modelling agency to try to arrange a local fashion shoot. But she actually ended up talking to the owner of Deja Vu Models in New York City, since the Red Deer franchise was no longer in business.
In a case of serendipity, the CEO of New York’s Deja Vu Models, Deborah Cardona, was looking for a new designer to feature in a pop-up fashion show on April 11.
After seeing Pedersen’s dramatic, fantasy-inspired line of couture and ready-to-wear gowns online, Cardona was hugely impressed. She told the local designer she liked their “sexy flowy, whimsical feel.”
Cardona first asked Pedersen, who trained in costume and fashion design at both Red Deer College and Olds College, to send a few items to be spotlighted in a fashion shoot for some New York magazines.
She then asked if she could come up with enough pieces to be featured at the New York City fashion show.
Pedersen was so shocked and thrilled that she accepted Cardona’s offer — after verifying her credentials online — without thinking about how much work would be involved.
It turned out to be a lot of work, recalled the 28-year-old. “I honestly don’t know how I did it,” said Pedersen, who did all the sewing herself in her Penhold basement, with relatives helping her husband with their two pre-school sons.
Some 40 of her made-in-Central-Alberta dresses, gowns, masks, headpieces and fairy wing accessories were eventually sent to New York.
And many of these eye-catching silk and chiffon gowns appeared in fashion photo spreads in the arty publications PopImpressKA Journal and Entrigue Magazine, as well as the Fashion Plus blog.
Pedersen described her Spread Your Wings pop-up fashion show, held on April 11 at the Poet’s Den Gallery (and opened by a collection from East Harlem designer Erica Jackson) as being a spectacle, similar to a Victoria’s Secret runway show. It can be viewed at www.vimeo.com/125108262.
“It really helped with getting my name out there and with branding,” said the local designer, who is keen to return to New York to show her collections again during Fashion Week in September. Cardona has invited her to be part of an eight-designer runway show at the Empire Hotel.
It’s an exciting opportunity that she believes could take her to the brink of international success — but also a costly endeavour. Pedersen estimates the fabric and shipping costs for the show could push $12,000.
She has started a crowd funding campaign to help her get there. Anyone interested in contributing, or finding out more, can go to www.gofundme,com/tx2y8s.
Pedersen, who grew up in Lacombe and Red Deer, admitted she never thought she would be at this point so early in her career. “Goodness no. I thought maybe in 10 years I would make that kind of connection.”
With other fashion shows planned in Calgary and Edmonton (the Fashion Against Cancer show on June 12), she’s thrilled that people near and far “believe in my work,” and are helping her achieve an international fashion career.