During the spring, over a couple glasses of wine at a fabulous abode in downtown Chicago I had the chance to catch up with Daphne Francois Torres, co-founder of EDEN Show Production (alongside her fashion partner in crime, Ebone’ McCloud) we discussed everything from our earlier days breaking into the industry to the fashion scene in Chicago and their future plans on what’s next for EDEN.
If you’ve been to any fashion shows within the past few years at Columbia College Chicago chances are they’ve produced and coordinated it, and hands down Daphne & Ebone’ knows how to produce a fashion show. Which is why it was perfect harmony for the two fashion chums to start EDEN together.
Check out the one-on-one interview below with RowASeat1 x Daphne Francois Torres of EDEN…
RowASeat1: When did you fall in love with fashion?
DAPHNE FRANCOIS TORRES: I fell in love with fashion late in the game. I like fashion, but do I really because I just wanted to do the ‘regular’ stuff like go to high school then go to college and get a regular job.
Then I got to Columbia (Columbia College Chicago) and saw all the different types of people and I was the most ‘normal’ one because I majored in Public Relations opposed to Ebone’ and those who were interested in fashion and graphic design. Even though it wasn’t ‘my thing’ I just teamed up with them and started learning more… Since then it’s been nonstop and college is the place where you really grow, which is where I fell in love with fashion.
RowASeat1: I Am…
DAPHNE: A believer, I’d say I’m a believer. My husband is always telling me I want what I want and I want to have it now. It’s because I believe in everything and that it’ll come true. It may sound cheesy, but I believe that things will always work out.
RowASeat1: Tell me about EDEN.
DAPHNE: So I teamed up with Ebone’ McCloud (Co-founder of EDEN) who I met in college. While working with CUMA (Columbia Urban Music Association) as part of the board through Public Relations and an opportunity was presented to me to produce the upcoming fashion show, especially since I wanted to break into fashion it was a great way to handle such a big task.
Eventually with all the hype and great support of the shows in collaboration of my company (DDot Productions) and Ebone’ McCloud’s company (Culture Couture) we decided to merge to the next level. As we sat down at my dinner table we combed through many names until we both decided upon the name, EDEN (we actually had a previous show called, Garden of Eden) and here we are now!
RowASeat1: What do you expect to bring differently to Chicago with EDEN?
DAPHNE: I don’t like to place our work in a box to use the ‘urban’ tag, but you’re definitely going to see a lot of diversity and I think that’s what’s missing throughout the city with fashion.
We’ve done fashion shows in the clubs and I’m all for humble beginnings, but you have to excel pass that level. From classy and traditional runway shows to a few surprises with some choreography that’s very tasteful is what EDEN brings with more of an urban feel is what you’ll experience at our shows.
EDEN works with girls who are signed, not signed and freelance models as well – I’ll take a dancer any day because I know they’ll give me that extra spunk we look for at EDEN.
RowASeat1: What are your thoughts about the tier of models in Chicago?
DAPHNE: I think the tier of models is limited as you and I both know from working in the industry alongside Barbara Samuels. We go to the shows and we see the same lineup and that’s fine, but I shouldn’t see the same models everywhere. Don’t get me wrong the quality is great, but you’re definitely going to see the same models for several shows.
As far as diversity within the tier you’re definitely going to see it here in Chicago. As for myself, I’ve worked with a lot of girls based off not putting them in a box and by knowing they have what it takes to model. Not because they’re Black, White, Asian, tall, short, slim or plus but based off the look – you can take the time to train their walk… there I go believing again. (Laughing)
RowASeat1: Who are some of your favorite designers?
DAPHNE: My top designer right now is Alex Carter… the girl is dope! I’ve been rocking with her since her T-Shirt days, she’s so bomb! I love AKIRA! I’ve been rocking with them since my fashion days with Columbia, which turned into an internship… I love them.
Honestly, I’m not really into designers I love pieces, so I find out t designs the pieces I like and I buy that way.
RowASeat1: If you could produce for any fashion show and/or designer who would they be?
DAPHNE: Oh my god… I just really want to conquer fashion week in Chicago. I’ve worked enough with Barbara that I know I want to be out there doing the timing of the show and doing what I know. The designer’s fashion show I would love to produce for would be PolishedByJ – Jazmine Nicole is hot, it’s different and I like her because she’s funky. I think when we work together her work comes to life.
I love her work, Alex (Carter) and Sheila Rashid… I’d start with them in mind and keep it in Chicago!
RowASeat1: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
DAPHNE: Well, because it’s my roots and so much of my family members have given me mixed reviews (both good and bad), but hands down, HAITI. I know it’ll be life changing – and I definitely want to experience it with my husband before we have children. It’ll be the mark of the next chapter in my life, so HAITI for sure.
RowASeat1: Explain your take on the ‘Black Out’ movement pertaining to the lack of Black models on the runways that’s campaigned by Bethann Hardison and Naomi Campbell.
DAPHNE: I would be out of my mind to say that I think that not having minorities on the runway is not a good look. It brings something to the table when watching a fashion show and you want to see yourself. And you want to see the world when you look into the audience, and the world isn’t just Black and White.
I run into it often with clients and models, it’s very discouraging; clients who say there’s too much diversity within the roster or the models who don’t like working with minority models. As far as my take on the situation at hand, I think they should call them out because no one wants to see all white models on the runway… show some diversity, I’m just saying, we have a Black president.
RowASeat1: What’s your overall vision for EDEN?
DAPHNE: EDEN is still a baby! Even thought Ebone’ and I have been at this for a while, EDEN, the company is still a baby and our vision is that we become more professional. Not in the quality of work because that’s there, but everything else we need to improve on and there’s much room to evolve as a company.
RowASeat1: What’s on your wish list?
DAPHNE: My wish list is to do fashion full time. I have a very supportive husband and he’s told me several times to do what I love. Honestly, it’s all on me as far as moving forward because my support is there.
I really want to do it full time because I know I can do it, but it’s the struggle of how I was raised it was really black and white with the typical Haitian parents. So I just have to prove it to myself, it’s a daily battle and it’s my drug.
RowASeat1: What motivates you to keep going?
DAPHNE: My motivation would be my family and my husband, t I live for and we have a saying: “Forever, and ever!” We’ll always say forever we’ll be there and live for each other and grow spiritually and in every other way!
If you’re an upcoming model in Chicago who needs runway training or you’re looking for a professional fashion show production company that’ll give life to your runway… Be sure to follow Daphne on IG: @ddotqueen and Ebone’ on IG: @CreateBuildLove.
Please send all inquiries here: EdenShowProduction@gmail.com – Remember… ‘It’s not just a fashion show, it’s an experience’ – EDEN.