This article was originally published in Chestnut Parks Fall issue of Invest In Style Magazine.

 

Christopher Paunil’s dresses are the perfect marriage between the traditional and the unconventional, making Christopher Paunil originals a must-have for celebrities attending Hollywood movie premieres and Toronto Fashion Week. Given Christopher Paunil’s celebrity following, it comes as no surprise that his designs grace the covers of Elle (US and Quebec), Vogue Italia, Wedding Bells, Hello! Canada, Dress to Kill, Toronto Life …. the list goes on. It also comes as no surprise that Christopher Paunil was a finalist in the prestigious TFI New Labels competition and recipient of the coveted The Knot Editor’s Pick.

 

 

While this attention from renowned celebrities and media outlets did thrust Christopher into the spotlight, it was actually Christopher Paunil’s unique designs and personal flare that gave him the opportunity of a lifetime.

 

 

Pop culture icon Keyshia Ka’Oir took notice of Christopher’s pieces and decided she needed him to make the centrepiece – her dress – of what would be her star-laden champagne-filled lavish wedding. Christopher was whisked to a studio and filmed on her hit TV show, The Mane Event, doing what he does best – designing, competing and creating.

 

While his design was not the final one chosen for the special day, it was a highlight in his career. How did Christopher Paunil rise above the very cluttered crowd to appear on a hit show? By putting the person, not the dollar, first.

 

Christopher Paunil has been shaping and refining his brand for almost a decade. His entrance into the luxury garment industry began with another bridal gown designer. While the experience he garnered in his role was invaluable, he knew he could build a brand that spoke to the new generation – a brand that inspires you to stand out, speak out and help out. Christopher Paunil designs not only fulfill his brand’s promise, but so does every encounter with Christopher. Having a dress made by Christopher means that you will be treated like, you will look like, and you will feel like royalty, but without the corresponding stuffiness or need for armed security. Despite his success, both Christopher and Chalo Hancock (his business partner) remain dogged with the core part of the brand and their professional and personal mission: to give back. After all, Christopher asserts, “we believe that our good fortune needs to be shared.”

 

 

 

Christopher and Chalo commit a portion of profits to charity, however, they don’t stop after they cut the cheque. They’re both actively involved with the youth arts charity UforChange, funded by generous donations from the city’s philanthropic community. UforChange has played such an important role in alleviating crime and violence and giving hope to the youth it supports that UforChange received support from His Royal Highness, Charles, Prince of Wales. Christopher and Chalo’s involvement also helped UforChange gain recognition as a nominee for Canadian Arts and Fashion Award (CAFA).

 

Christopher Paunil is a rare commodity – he designs because he loves the process, he loves blurring what’s old with what’s new and he loves the women whom he serves. He does not love, however, the business. Hence his partnership with Chalo, a powerhouse in his own right; Chalo was originally known not as a fashion guru, but as a successful leader in various non-profits advocating for youth who are in conflict with the law and living in poverty. Bringing Chalo on for the ride was a necessary and welcome move as Christopher is fully enveloped in the creative side of the business – from appearing on hit reality TV shows, to attending the world’s hottest fashion shows, working with celebrities and developing a new bridal line, Love Project, to launch this summer.

 

 

Christopher’s advice for women seeking the perfect dress – do what makes you feel stunning, bold and strong, not what’s simply in fashion. After all, successful fashion becomes successful only through boldness, strength and a willingness to stand out, speak out and help out.

 

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