PARKTEN Interview - Michael Meneghetti
Michael Meneghetti is the Agency Director for Mode Models. He handles the day-to-day operations of the agency as well as model contracts and career management, international model placements, event work for both Edmonton and Calgary, and other various projects. He can’t live without his husband or The Real Housewives of (any city), and is a total magazine junkie.
How did you become apart of the Mode team?
When I was in high school I would volunteer for anything fashion-based that was happening in Calgary - I only moved to Edmonton in 2009. So 12 years ago, I was a volunteer at Calgary Fashion Week at Hotel Arts and that’s where I first met Kelly Streit, the founder of Mode, backstage. He thought I knew my stuff and told me to send him my resume, which I did. After a couple of attempts at getting his attention, I was officially hired at Mode. I was only in grade 12 so I would leave school early three days a week to work at Mode and also spent my weekends there. I started off doing things like admin work and website updates and eventually worked from Agency Assistant to Director.
Was this career the path you had always envisioned for yourself?
When I was in elementary, I wanted to be a fashion designer. I would make clothing for my Spice Girls dolls, and in grade 5 I had my own clothing line. It was literally pieces of fabric and clothes stapled together. I always knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry, and when I met Kelly I completely fell in love with Mode.
When, how, and why did you begin working with PARK?
I started working with PARK a full ten years ago when they were still producing smaller events for smaller audiences in Calgary. They came to Edmonton to do a show with a magazine and that was the first time I met Kara, Jessie, and the team. I became more involved with PARKSHOW and our partnership expanded from there. There are few people in this province who work in this business on the same level as PARK. We’ve really grown from just supplying models for their shows into a strong team working together on a variety of projects.
Who are some of your favourite Canadian designers?
Urbanovitch, Sid Neigum and Paul Hardy... There is lots of great Canadian talent.
Alberta, and Western Canada, are home to an amazing assortment of local talent but it seems to be hidden or more of a niche community. How vital is an organization such as PARK to Canada’s fashion scene/industry?
PARK definitely put a spotlight on Albertan, and Canadian designers, introducing them to a new audience. I think PARK’s biggest strength is their ability to connect the dots for the people who have always been working hard in this business. They help to introduce creators to their ever-expanding audiences and communicate their messages locally and internationally. PARK is always pushing for bigger and better and greater. They are a great resource for helping designers create and showcase their collections and to grow their audiences. At the 2017 Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards’ (CAFA) there was so much talent from Alberta. Malorie Urbanovitch was nominated for an award so was House of Nonie and Poppy Barley, but there’s more than just designers. There are Influencers, stylists and makeup artists and models. Meghan Collision won model of the Year and she started in Edmonton with Mode. You can really feel the Albertan presence expanding nationally.
You’re featured in the PARK 10-year campaign, how does it feel to be part of that? How has PARK grown and evolved over the last 10 years?
It feels amazing to be part of PARKTEN. It’s crazy to think back on the early shows and how much smaller the audiences were. PARK has grown into a powerhouse that now has a presence in both Calgary and Edmonton. The entire PARK team has done a great job of bringing designers to runway shows but also to other clients through different projects and collaborations. Being at these events feels like being around family. We did our 30th-anniversary show last year with PARK and it was a great moment where everything we have worked on came together. Over the last ten years, the production levels and the talent have grown to an internationally competitive level. A lot of people have grown up with these events. At one PARKSHOW, there was an 8-year-old boy in the audience, I think he was actually dressed in a suit, who begged his parents to take him to the show. I actually took him backstage and introduced him to Kelly and the rest of the team. He was so excited, it was such a special moment that really impacted him. But It’s things like this that impact a whole generation. PARK provides a platform for people to put their creative energy into and it keeps them motivated and moving forward.
How do you want to see PARK grow?
Honestly, they just need to keep doing what they are doing - continuing to reach across the country, and as time goes on internationally, and it will keep moving forward. I love what Calgary is doing with their architecture and development projects, and the way PARK showcases their city. With all the new buildings, like the National Music Centre, I’m always excited to see where the next shows will be.
What is one trend you absolutely never want to see again?
What was the first fashion show you were involved in and how nervous were you? Do you still get nervous?
The first fashion show I ever went to was Calgary Fashion Week at Hotel Arts. I was super nervous but mostly I was just in awe of everything, especially Mode. The first fashion show I worked for as part of Mode was our Bella event with Holt Renfrew and Calgary Health Trust. The show also marked our 20th anniversary. We had huge brands like Prada and Chanel there and a bunch of our international models flew in for it. I was so obsessed with all of the clothes. It was super high demand and super stressful, but an amazing experience. Yes, I was nervous, and I still get nervous but it’s part of the joy. Things are always changing and you have to run with it - it’s the lifeblood of this business, it gets you fired up.
What is the most memorable experience, good and bad, you have had since you joined Mode?
There has been a lot of good, one of the most recent was our 30th Anniversary show with PARK. Rad Hourani was there and it was also Kelly’s 50th birthday. I had our top International models record birthday greetings for him which we played at the very end. It was a really unifying and emotional evening that made you feel warm and fuzzy. We got to see how time had passed, how people got older, and how much has changed. It was nice to come back to that same community in Calgary.
So for the bad, I have a funny story. It was Paul Hardy’s 10th-anniversary show. Our full team from Edmonton came in and models were flying in, so it was very high pressure. I had just gotten a new pair of glasses, they were Gucci, and I was ready to kill it at the show. The night before, we were all in a crazy mood and decided to go out. I somehow lost my glasses and had a full meltdown, which was really embarrassing, but I had to do the whole show without being able to see anything. The show itself was amazing, but not being able to see anything was not great.