Biomedical engineer, turned fashion stylist, turned entrepreneur. Labeling Kara Chomistek as “successful” is a bit of an understatement. She’s also the co-creator of PARK, Western Canada’s principal fashion organization. Here, Kara tells us how she’s pushing the fashion industry in Canada (and, perhaps equally important, how to style up those Poppy Barley ankle boots).
“We were seeing this exodus of creative talent out of Alberta,” she reflects during a phone interview from her home in Calgary. “And it’s because there’s not enough support for designers and artists to have sustainable companies and businesses. So, a lot of businesses end up moving away to bigger city centres such as Toronto, New York or LA.”
And so PARK (Promoting Artists, Redefining Kulture) came to be. A socially conscious organization, PARK aspires to create opportunities for developing artists and designers to sustain a profitable business, hosting two major shop-able fashion shows, in addition to multiple commerce events, each year. PARK also opened up unexpected opportunities for Kara. “It was kind of funny, because I vowed I would never be a stylist and wouldn’t want to go into the fashion industry. I didn’t think there was any sustainability, or a career in it. However, the more I became involved in the fashion world through my work with PARK, the more my eyes opened to the many opportunities in the industry.”
Opportunities like working with one of the biggest, brightest department stores in the world, Nordstrom, as they moved into Canada; styling for magazines like Avenue, Freq, and Vulkan; and, for Poppy Barley, styling our Fall 2016 campaign. We knew we’d hired one of the best in the biz.
“Understanding and really knowing who you are styling for has the biggest influence on the styling,” opines Kara. “When styling the Poppy Barley shoot, I had a conversation with the PB team beforehand, discussing who the Poppy Barley woman is. She is strong, confident, feminine and making shit happen.”
Reflected throughout the campaign, our fall line-up is a mix of soft nubucks, wearable neutrals and the return of the ever-popular ankle boot. Below, Kara breaks down the styling of our Fall ‘16 campaign and why ankle boots can be worn with so much more than just your skinny jeans (although those look pretty good too).
KARA: We wanted to emphasize the Army Green leather, so we kept the look entirely monochromatic–and, contradictory to what you might think about focusing on just one colour, it really highlights the uniqueness of the Two Point Five Ankle Boot. This was achieved by choosing tones of green that were darker and more muted than the shoes, so that your eye immediately goes to the footwear.
KARA: That Flat Bootie. Similar to above, we used duller colours that would blend with the background, so, again, the footwear is the focus. Adding a skirt to a more casual flat ankle boot makes it super cute and dressed up.
KARA: For this Black Heeled Chelsea Boot, we wanted to capture the Poppy Barley woman. She is easy going, but busy. She’s always on her feet. I wanted to show an effortless, comfortable outfit that could easily be worn to coffee, to university class, to the grocery store or dropping kids off at school. The casualness of this look is completed with a sloppy, rolled cuff and neutral hat that she could go anywhere in.
KARA: I wanted to show how a classic Chelsea Boot could be worn with any kind of pant, long and short. Culottes are huge for fall, and the variety of colours available can make pants the exciting item in your closet! This look feels more international to me, a girl that dresses effortlessly cool, you could see her snapped on your favourite street style blog.
KARA: I wanted to give the Heeled Chelsea in Toffee some range and maturity. It’s easy to style this boot with a cute dress or pair of dark denim. However, I wanted to show how to dress them up a little and create a look that would be appealing to women of all ages.
KARA: This is definitely my favourite look! I LOVE the minimalist inspiration and showing how to perfectly dress up your Heeled Mules for work or a night out. I wanted to push the style of the shoe with a wide leg trouser, complemented by a beautiful, boxy jacket.
KARA: These Heeled Chelsea Boots in Militare definitely have personality! I wanted to showcase the warmth and tonality of the shoes by pairing it with a look that was equally as warm and easy to wear. It’s a perfect “rugged meets refined” look. Everyone on set loved this dress and cozy blanket-scarf, perfect for transitioning into fall. I think this outfit really makes you want to be a Poppy Barley woman!
KARA: I wanted to play off the texture of these Zipper Booties by creating an outfit with a juxtaposing feel. She looks cozy and comfortable in the oversized sweater, the skort makes it a comfortable way to wear a “mini” skirt and show off the ankle boots. With the right pieces, you can make bare legs and ankle boots work.
KARA: This is our ultimate cool girl (a given–I’m told the Two Point Five Ankle Boot is the most popular Poppy Barley shoe EVER). She doesn’t try too hard and she’s not fussy. The silver skirt is a great complement to the sheen in the leather. The different textures in this look help to balance her out from head to toe, and makes her look great without even trying.
KARA: Finally, finishing up with the cutest photo ever. I wanted to show how you can EASILY wear prints with any shoe from Poppy Barley’s Fall Collection. We included some edgier influences, like the leather jacket, to match the hardware (bold metal zippers) on the Flat Bootie in Black. Her demeanour is anything but intimidating, which is exactly how I view the Poppy Barley woman.