From the young age of 13, Vanessa Rose Gallelli began preparing herself for life as a designer. She took sewing, illustration and pattern drafting classes and focussed on immersing herself in all the skills needed to make her dreams a reality. Similar to many aspiring designers, Gallelli initially struggled to master complicated techniques, but with hard work and patience she got a handle on everything and fell in love with the craft. Gallelli’s commitment to becoming a designer was so strong that she enrolled at the Haute Couture Academy of Fashion Arts and Design, which she attended alongside high school in order to properly prepare herself for studying fashion design at Ryerson University in Toronto.
The official start of Gallelli’s eponymous brand was in April of 2014. Before that, Gallelli had made custom clothing for family members, alongside countless outfits for herself, but 2014 marked the first time she created outfits for people outside her family - beginning with a prom dress request which came from an Instagram direct message. Gallelli continued making custom clothing and individual pieces until 2017, when she showed her first complete collection, Mass Exodus, at Vancouver Fashion Week for Fall/Winter 2017. However, custom apparel remains Gallelli’s primary focus, with orders flooding in from friends, friends of friends and even complete strangers on Instagram. These requests are mainly for eveningwear - a challenge for which Gallelli was prepared by her university internships with tailoring and bridal designers. “Hand sewing is key,” explained Galllelli, “I also include appliques, feathers and beads to add that little extra sparkle.”
Instagram has had a significant effect on Gallelli’s business - it is how the organisers at Vancouver Fashion Week found her brand. Speaking of which, Vancouver Fashion Week was a major turning point for Gallelli. Not only did it prompt her to create her first full collection, but it also provided an excellent networking platform with a high level of media access. “I noticed through this whole experience how important it is to use social media to get your name out there. I constantly post everything I do, whether it be collections, custom clothing I’ve made,” said Gallelli. Showing at Vancouver Fashion Week also boosted the level of custom orders Gallelli was receiving - increasing the juggling act Gallelli now faces between growing custom clientele and releasing a new collection every season. “My Mass Exodus show was a very surreal experience. I was so overjoyed I cried, I was so grateful that all the hard work that I put into my collection was paying off,” Gallelli explained. Her end goal is to own her own boutique stores in Toronto and New York, from which she can still create custom orders alongside main collections, which she would like to show at New York Fashion Week.