I met Dalia MacPhee on a Sunday night in Los Angeles, as the 2012 Emmy Awards wrapped across town. I had just finished a long, hard night of interviewing Emmy-winners like Claire Danes ("Homeland"), Julie Bowen ("Modern Family"), and Eric Stonestreet ("Modern Family"), and eating better-than-expected catered food in the L.A. Live media center with 100 or so other members of the media. Life is so rough sometimes.
(Actually, if you've ever been part of event traffic in downtown Los Angeles, you'll understand when I say I was never so relieved in my life as when I tossed my keys at the valet upon arriving at my hotel that night.)
Anyway, one of the highlights of the evening was meeting fashion designer Dalia MacPhee (and her lovely mother) in my hotel lobby when I got back. We all chatted a while and Dalia even helped ease me in to a party being held in the hotel's nightclub. The party turned out to be a bit dull despite the air of exclusivity, but I was very glad to have spent a few moments chatting with Dalia and her mom, who had started to give me some background on Dalia as a designer. It turned out, Dalia was quite established in the industry (her work, primarily gowns and formal dresses, can be found in upscale department stores such as Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom) and was definitely going places.
Naturally, I wanted to learn more and introduce anyone who doesn't yet know Dalia's name to her gowns.
Dalia MacPhee Interview - Jan. 2013: Designer Talks Style, Upbringing, and New Spring Collection
Jennifer Waite, Examiner.com: Hi, Dalia! How are you?
Dalia MacPhee: Hi, Jennifer! I’m great, thank you. I was busy earlier this week starring in “The Flu” with Meryl Streep, but I wrapped up and am now starring in my own production, “The Silver Linings Look Book.”
Jennifer Waite: I'm glad "The Flu" wrapped and you're back to business! Thanks for this interview. So, tell readers a little about Dalia MacPhee. When did you start designing gowns?
Dalia MacPhee: Officially, 13 years ago. Unofficially, I’ve been designing all my life. As a little girl I used to design clothing for family members to try on. There was this one gown that looked terrible on my father...
Jennifer Waite: Ha! Sounds like you had a fun childhood. Your family has a long history in the clothing industry, don't they? Tell us a little about that.
Dalia MacPhee: My parents owned the Yofi chain of stores in Canada. They specialized in women’s sportswear and also manufactured their own line. This was during the 80’s and early 90’s. It was a fascinating time to grow up, and a great time to be immersed in the apparel industry.
To learn about fashion in the 80’s, well, you just can’t teach that in a classroom. My parents were of the school of thought that if you go on a business trip, you bring your children with you. (They probably just wanted free assistants!) I went everywhere with them: New York, L.A., Hong Kong, buying trips, trade shows. Winter break was spent in the factory convincing the sewers to finish the jacket I designed for Barbie, and summer break was spent in the stores, learning the art of sales and negotiating nap time with my mom (yes, every afternoon, she would make me take a nap in one of the fitting rooms).
JW: That's adorable! As you know, I met your mom when I met you. She seems like such a warm, lovely woman. It's wonderful your parents opened up this industry to you, engaging you in every aspect of the business. Now look at you! Which pieces from your own collection are you most excited about right now?
DM: I just launched Spring 2013, and it’s one of the few collections in a long time that I’m really happy with. I reinvented the signature collection (old Hollywood glam with a modern twist), introducing some great new silhouettes and gorgeous fabrics I found while traveling abroad. It’s a little more sexy, a little more bold and a lot more heart.
A collection to me is like a person, and this season, baby is all grown up! There’s one piece in particular that I really love. It’s a long, strapless, sweetheart silhouette with a front slit, made from imported orange French lace layered over champagne satin. It’s hitting Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom any day now.
JW: That sounds great! I'll be on the lookout. Besides designing and producing, dressing clients is a huge part of any designer's business. Who have been some of your favorite clients to dress over the years and why?
DM: Too many to count. Just when I think I’m burned out and done with this industry, I have an opportunity to put a gown on someone who reminds me why I do this. An 80 year old woman who magically transforms to her glory days, a bullied teen who for the first time sees how truly beautiful she is, and a new bride who brings her stoic father to tears. Every gown has a story, and every thread a memory.
I’ve worked with some amazing celebrities as well, such as Hillary Duff, Heidi Klum, Nina Dobrev, Brooke Burke, Audrina Patridge, Olivia Munn, and Serena Williams to name a few.
One thing that’s fascinating is that our clients have been so diverse. They have been all ages, sizes, ethnicities, and income brackets. That’s a great representation of the line and also what I personally stand for. We are ALL equal, and we all deserve to feel beautiful.
JW: That's a great way to approach fashion and life in general! Wrapping up, is there anything coming up that your fans might want to know about? Is there anyone exciting you will be dressing in the coming weeks?
DM: We just did a fitting with Olympic gold-medalist Gabby Douglas. I really wanted to see her do an aerial flip but I think the gown was a tad long. We have some really exciting things in the works for awards season and the next few months in general. I’m a tad superstitious so I never reveal anything until it’s confirmed, but, wink, nudge, keep an eye out!
And when are we putting you in a DALIA MACPHEE, Jennifer??
JW: I would love that! Thanks for a great interview, Dalia. (And tell Gabby Douglas I said, "Wow!" Just, wow. That girl is amazing. Read about America's sweetheart Gabby Douglas here.)
Check out some of Dalia MacPhee's gowns on the designer's website here. You can find her dresses in stores and online at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and other popular stores. Also, watch out for her designs on the red carpet this awards season!