Executive Producer Calvin Mitchell at the 2019 American Music Awards
- Photo by Tarra Stubbins
Runway shows are seen as a pinnacle moment in the influential world of fashion, but much of what is seen on stage would not be possible without the solid expertise of a standout event producer. Behind all the glitz and glamour of high-end fashion shows exists a highly skilled individual with the phenomenal ability to bring the designer’s visions to life.
Canadian producer Calvin Mitchell is a fashion industry powerhouse, and he’s known for his extraordinary ability to transform an initial concept into a visually stunning realization. Over the past decade he has produced over 100 runway shows for many of the world’s leading designers and corporate brands including Christopher Bates, Rudsak, DSquared, Dalla, Romona Keveza, Mikael D and members of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Start Up Fund, among several others.
Mitchell laid his foundation in the industry working for leading Canadian label and retail chain Joe Fresh, founded by well-known fashion designer and entrepreneur Joe Mimran, whose net worth is over $200 million.
Through his extensive work with the famous brand, he was responsible for coordinating the backstage operations for the label’s headline fashion show at Toronto Fashion Week in 2013-2014.
His remarkable work behind the scenes caught the eye of many prominent producers, one in particular was seasoned artistic director Hans Koechling, who recruited Mitchell to join his renowned production company The Image Is, which he still continues to produce global events for today.
For over 20 years, the creative production service has been producing world class fashion events for many high-end Canadian and international labels such as Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Oscar De La Renta, Tom Ford, Valentino and Hugo Boss.
Through his solid foundation with The Image Is, Mitchell and team were led to work alongside iconic British designer and fashion symbol Victoria Beckham to showcase her exclusive range at the 2019 Suzanne Rogers Presents charitable runway show.
He says, “It was really exciting to be able to work with such a prominent brand... when you get to do that, you really have the opportunity to elevate the class and production value of a show.”
Known for his capacity to achieve sustained success Mitchell, who was wrapping up a show in the UK just one day prior, boarded an overnight flight to Toronto in order to help produce the show. The result of his work was a flawless event in which Beckham was praised across many leading media outlets.
Raising over $725,000 for the non-for-profit organizations Camp Ooch and The Penelope Neuroblastoma Foundation, among other children’s charities, the event was an outstanding achievement.
He shares, “Victoria Beckham and her team were such a pleasure to work with and we were able to make the show a seamless success.”
Mitchell’s remarkable talent for working within tight deadlines and budgets, overseeing the behind the scenes damage control and mediating between designers, models and staff, has been key in creating countless exhilarating productions across the world.
“The role tends to be a rather start to finish production role, from concept to execution, usually starting with designer conversations and model castings and fittings, to rehearsals, backstage organization, scheduling & timing and show calling,” he says. “I’m really lucky to work as part of a great team and have great mentors in the space.”
He also understands that one of the most vital elements to producing a successful fashion show lies within the technical aspects, knowing that the designer’s image and their collection can be greatly affected by appropriate stage lighting.
“There is definitely a sense of polish and formality that comes with fashion production. You are using the show as an opportunity to profile someone’s life work as a fashion designer,” he adds.
“So you have to make sure that your production elements don’t pull focus from the clothing but enhance it. It’s a very delicate balance and some designers like the flash, others like it very minimal.”
Growing up in Ottawa, Canada, Mitchell fell in love with stage production at quite a young age after hosting whimsical plays from his own home and crafting imaginative scripts based on his favourite childhood stories.
“I had always been a creative kid so I think fashion was a great outlet for me to be around to allow for creativity in my work,” he says. “I also was an avid Vogue reader since high school.”
Known for being a fashion event chameleon, Mitchell finds inspiration for his visionary process through visual arts, music and travelling.
“I get most of my inspiration from people and the world around me,” he shares. “Ever since I really started seeing production as my career - I can never turn off my brain from coming up with new ideas and being inspired by the things I see.”
In 2014 he was part of a team who produced a series of runway shows for the billion dollar global brand Target at both their corporate headquarters and for Toronto Fashion Week. He also helped launch the team Canada Olympic uniforms for the 2016 Rio and the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic games, as well as produced the successful digital launch for the Canadian brand Roots’ holiday collection which gained widespread national coverage.
Considering the immense responsibilities that came with each event, Mitchell demonstrated his unparalleled talents in delivering the entire production from concept to completion. The extensive role included overseeing model castings and fittings, rehearsals, backstage organization, scheduling and coordinating a large team behind the scenes.
However it’s not only high-profile fashion shows that have put Mitchell on the map as the phenomenal producer that he is so widely known as today. The array of shows he’s produced across live events, touring shows and radio broadcasts have been seen by a combined audience of over 2 million viewers in person and 25 million viewers through broadcast.
“My favourite types of projects are live shows or events, I love the rush and excitement that comes from that. Especially being able to play off the audience and experience that energy in real time,” he says.
“Specifically within that I do love music projects, like concerts or performances at special events and shows. There is something so exciting about the creative elements that go into producing a music performance.”
His outstanding skills as an executive talent producer led him to work alongside Grammy Award winning artists Kelly Clarkson and Cardi B, and Grammy Award nominees Post Malone and The Backstreet Boys at the 2017 annual iHeartRadio Jingleball.
Calvin Mitchell backstage with artist Johnny Orlando - photo by Sam Cahill
In 2019 he produced the 32-stop North American tour for award-winning Canadian artist Johnny Orlando. Not only did he conceptualize and produce the entire tour from start to finish, but he sourced all technical suppliers and vendors across 20 cities, and designed the stage settings to embody Orlando’s performance in order to maximize the experience for the zealous audience.
With a stunning repertoire of success to his name, Mitchell continues to thrive within the energetic industry, recently taking on the role as director of production for the non-for-profit organization Elevate.
Recognized as the world’s fastest-growing tech and innovation festival with an audience of over 30,000, Elevate connects students, corporate innovators and entrepreneurs with global icons such as former first lady Michelle Obama and Martha Stewart to help solve complex social problems.
He says, “I’m in the process of creating a series of shows that focus on how we can use tech and innovation to solve some of the biggest challenges facing the world.”
Recognized as a seasoned pro, Mitchell continues to garner praise throughout the competitive industry from many prestigious leaders.
“Calvin Mitchell is a rare breed who understands the many operational tasks and orders that are to be executed on time to produce a show live,” says Hans Koechling, founder of The Image Is.
“He is an outstanding producer and show director who brings his great talent and professionalism to the job, to execute and lead the end-to-end creative and production process as well as the key back of house runway production.. an absolute pleasure, I am very much looking forward to our future collaboration.”
Whether an avid fashionista or a devoted concert-goer, it’s undeniably clear that through his pure commitment to create world class entertainment, Calvin Mitchell well and truly leaves an unforgettable mark wherever he lands, and we can’t wait to see what he delivers next.
“My hope is to be able to leave behind a body of work that has made people feel good and feel inspired. Whether it’s producing a concert for people to come dance, sing and be entertained, or whether it is helping to share important stories of incredible individuals that the world should know,” he shares.
“I love what I do and I hope my work brings joy to others. I always say I’m in the business of creating memories.”