In the third part of our ongoing Industry Insider series, we chat with the creative director of The Room at Hudson’s Bay, Nicholas Mellamphy
FrontRowMag.com spoke with creative director of The Room at The Bay, Nicholas Mellamphy, to decipher what makes this designer enclave tick. The Room’s two-year-old, revamped space was designed by famed architect Yabu Pushelberg, and showcases a healthy roster of unique design talent, making this boutique within a department store a must shop. Mellamphy’s keen style eye has ignited The Room’s reputation, fostering associations with prestige labels and the ladies who can afford them. For fall he predicts wardrobes in rich Bordeaux colours and layering of textures with strong tailoring, fur and lace.
FrontRowMag: As creative director for The Room at The Bay, what does your role encompass? What kind of legacy would you like to leave within fashion?
Nicholas Mellamphy: As creative director of The Room, I work closely with all of the creative teams in The Hudson’s Bay Company to ensure that image and standards are created and maintained in every aspect of our business that pertains to The Room. Visual, events, marketing and advertising—my position also includes buying the advanced designer collections, as well as giving me the opportunity to support young design talent.
FRM: What is the historical significance of the name The Room? How does this name help to denote designer fashion in Canada?
NM: The Room really is one of the most significant retail environments in Canada. The heritage of The Room dates back to the mid-1920s, when it was one of the first outposts in Toronto to sell luxury fashion. It has an established reputation of discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent. Marjorie Steele, who was an icon in Canadian retail, ran “The St. Regis Room” for decades and held the respect of the industry around the world. In less than two years, we have been able to restore that reputation and give Toronto fashion consumers a viable alternative in this market.
FRM: The Room has gained a reputation for throwing some of the best fashion events and exhibits in Toronto. How have these widely publicized launches fostered a new image for The Room and a new standard for fashion events in Toronto?
NM: The popping of a champagne cork heralds many changes. The events are an organic reaction to the partnerships that we have been able to create and foster with our designer partners. The reaction to these events has been extraordinary. We are excited to be able to continue to introduce Canadians to the designers behind the brands that they support, as well as leave them feeling excited and inspired.
FRM: How do you determine if a fashion designer’s collection is in alignment with The Room’s clientele?
NM: Vision. It’s the most important attribute that I look for in a brand or a designer—that and integrity. Look at the success of Mary Katrantzou, her Spring 2011 collection was interiors—the most unlikely print choice for a dress—but it worked and the sense of discovery sitting in the audience of that runway show was intense. It was a real moment. Watching that, you can’t help but have a reaction, and you trust that the clients will feel the same thing.
FRM: Do you see fashion designers as artists? It seems that The Room tries to position fashion designers at the level of artist’s by displaying their designs in a similar way to an art gallery. Was this the intention?
NM: Yabu Pushelberg designed The Room with such grace and sense of ease. We are able to showcase our collections with respect, allowing the designers’ thoughts/visions for the season to be easily understood. I believe that fashion can be elevated to art form—the reaction to the McQueen exhibit at the Met is the perfect example. The act of creating, staying true to a vision and presenting that concept should always be championed.
FRM: The Room carries exclusive designer collections from Roland Mouret, Erdem, Balenciaga and Prozena Schouler, to name a few. What kind of trends can we expect for the upcoming fall season?
NM: Colour. Rich, deep colours. Bordeaux everything! Lots of textures—lace details, fur accents and strong tailoring.
FRM: When The Room is brought up in conversation, what kind of descriptors would you like fashion consumers to have come to mind?
NM: I am constantly told that clients find pieces that are new and different, not typical, and that our choices are exciting and daring. Kate Betts once told me that The Room is how Barneys should be!
FRM: TopShop is coming to the Bay this fall. What will this mean for designer shoppers?
NM: Adding Topshop to The Bay’s portfolio is another step to The Bay being a world class department store. Great fashion for everyone.