TORONTO — Returning for its first live ceremony since COVID-19 hit, the Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards will pay tribute to The Wall Group’s founder and chief executive officer Brooke Wall here on Saturday.
“The Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards spotlights talent that is not always seen but should be seen more. That idea has driven a lot of what Brooke Wall has accomplished in her career,” said CAFA cofounder and president Vicky Milner.
“Today people can’t imagine Hollywood without its celebrity stylists. But Brooke Wall ushered in the rise of the celebrity stylists,” Milner told WWD. “She saw what the relationship between Hollywood and these artists who usually worked behind the scenes could mean to the industry. In doing so she changed the ecosystem of our creative community, how business is done and how fashion industry talent is viewed and perceived globally.”
For that achievement, CAFA is honoring Wall with its 2022 Vanguard Award, which it bestows upon people who have paved the way to powerful change in the fashion industry.
That award, among others that evening, will be presented at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel on Saturday.
“At 21 I knew I wanted to have my own business, though I didn’t know what it would be. But when I launched The Wall Group in 2000 I woke up and asked myself ‘How did I get here?’” Wall said in an exclusive interview.
The Wall Group was founded in 2000 after hairstylist John Frieda approached her about starting an agency. Wall, who was born in Toronto and raised in Vancouver, agreed, knowing that “all these people who were behind the scenes and creating looks for shoots around the world were so underrepresented within the industry.”
Now boasting offices in Los Angeles, California; New York; London, and Paris, Wall’s artist management agency represents a global roster of talent. But the road to The Wall Group was not easy.
In 1983, Wall, then 19, headed to London and cut her teeth on its edge-driven fashion industry.
“I don’t think people really understand how much has come out of London that’s changed the industry. But that edge prepared me for New York,” said Wall, who headed for New York in 1986.
Wall’s career took off when she began working in 1990 at the studio of Oribe, the famed hairstylist who worked with supermodels like Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington.
While there in 1992 Wall met Oribe client Katie Ford, the CEO of Ford Models, who eventually asked Wall to help launch the new beauty division of Ford Models in 1996. By 2000 The Wall Group was up and running, representing makeup artists, hairstylists, manicurists, hair colorists, fashion stylists and production designers and bringing them into the spotlight. But Wall soon recognized that these talents could bring something to Hollywood that was missing. She also knew that the red carpet had untapped potential of becoming a media platform for fashion and beauty brands.
“While I was in L.A. a very famous actress said to me ‘What should I wear to the Oscars?’ I thought if she’s asking me then we need to bring this to Hollywood and the world,” Wall said.
“The business was shifting. People were really into what actresses wore, and then how many followers they had. If you were listening and paying attention you could figure out where all this potential could lead,” she told WWD. “That’s why I tell people to be curious. Curiosity gave The Wall Group a lot of strength that many other competitors didn’t have.”