When Peter Papapetrou was first approached by Toronto Film School about letting a group of students take a twirl at creating his new website, the Canadian fashion guru immediately gave the proposal the hats-off treatment.
“I love working with students,” said Papapetrou, an influential fashion director/stylist best known for lending his expertise to CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show.
“I think they always have so much creativity and so much diversity of style and tastes they can bring to the table. So, I thought, why not?”
After agreeing to let Pheinixx Paul’s Graphic Design & Interactive Media students tackle the project, Papapetrou took time to meet and discuss with them his vision for what he wanted his new venture to look like and the message he wanted it to exemplify.
“Peter’s very interesting in that his work life has kind of split into two,” explained Paul, director of Toronto Film School’s Graphic Design & Interactive Media Diploma.
“On the one hand, he’s a creative director and a stylist within the fashion world…and on the other side, he works with real people, enabling them to realize and to visualize what they really want to project into the world.”
It was that latter side of the former Renovate Your Wardrobe co-host’s work, Paul said, that her students were tasked with better realizing through the creation of a new “identity and web platform” that will allow Papapetrou closer contact with his real-world clients.
“In our initial meeting, he gave us a lot of information to take in,” said Caitlin McLafferty, one of the Toronto Film School students involved in the project.
“What I took away from it, personally, is that he wanted to basically create a brand that’s open and accessible to everyone, and inclusive of all people of all sizes, because that’s what he wants to embrace.”
With each student in the class tackling the project individually, the end result was a diverse range of web designs for Papapetrou to choose from.
“It’s quite remarkable to see how many different people take the exact same information and come up with so many different, wonderful ideas,” Paul said of fruits of her students’ labour.
“There’s a lot of ingenuity and creativity that’s shown every single semester from all the students, and even I still get surprised sometimes.”
In the end, Papapetrou singled out Danielle Van Helden’s ‘Papa Can You Hear Me’ themed design as the one with the “clearest vision.”
“I thought the website looked like it functioned really well, the categories were great, and the colours were bold,” Papapetrou said. “I also thought she had a great sense of how the website should navigate.”
On the model website, Van Helden described Papa Can You Hear Me as “a place for inclusivity and positivity” where a community of people can come to empower one another, let their personalities shine through fashion, and ask questions of and get advice from “Papa” himself.
“It was really exciting (to have my website chosen), because I worked really hard on the logo and the whole identity behind it,” Van Helden said.
“I really wanted it to be a space that is very fun, vibrant, bright, because…that’s the idea behind (Papapetrou’s) whole identity and how he wants to portray himself as a stylist and as an expert in his field.”
For his part, Papapetrou described his experience collaborating with the Toronto Film School’s Graphic Design & Interactive Media students as an inspirational one.
“As a mentor…the best part is seeing the students understand what I can bring to the table for them to grow, but I also get to learn from them,” he said.
“I think when creatives meet together and they’re open to discussion and to understanding each other, both will grow automatically and that’s just natural. Especially in the creative world, I think that’s the best takeaway you can have – inspiring people and them inspiring you.”