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  • Writer's pictureRidhey Gill

Vanessa Lisa Kiraly

Tell us about yourself.

I graduated from the University of Toronto’s Life Science Program (Honors Bachelor of Science) where I majored in Health and Disease and Psychology minored in Hungarian Language and Literature. I’m Hungarian myself, but I wanted to improve my writing and reading abilities in the language which I was able to do via my classes at U of T and by volunteering as a translator/interpreter for Mount Sinai Hospital.

Although I studied science in university, I’ve been a long-time contributor to the Toronto Fashion Industry in multiple roles. I started modelling at the age of 13 and walked in my first fashion week (Fashion Art Toronto) at the age of 15. Since then, I’ve developed my talents as a fashion designer of my own brand, a fashion event coordinator, and as photographer and retoucher.

I've had to work my way up in an industry in which I faced many adversities. I had no formal education in fashion design or business, and I was told by agencies that I was too short to be a professional model. I considered my height and lack of experience as challenges rather than disadvantages. On my own initiative, I created editorial concepts and organized teams to execute them. I taught myself photography and photograph retouching and successfully published my teams' work internationally numerous times.

To date I’ve been featured in over 100 fashion magazine publications including FASHION Magazine, Vogue Italia, and British Vogue. I’ve successfully published my fashion editorial work in Canada, America, China, France, Germany, England, Scotland, and Russia so far.

Throughout my undergrad I had to balance a lot. I was primarily working as a designer and as a Fashion Event Coordinator, but also worked as the Photography Coordinator for Toronto Men’s & Women’s Fashion Week, and as a Model Relations Manager for Startup Fashion Week. These were tough tasks because Fashion Week event dates always conflicted with my midterms and other events. Oftentimes I would be working at the shows until 1AM then get home only to study for a few hours before doing a test in the morning and then going right back to work - there was very little sleep happening during midterm week!

I recently just finished showcasing my SS2020 collection at International Fashion Encounter’s show on March 7th, right before the Coronavirus shut everything down. As a part of Fashion Art Toronto’s online movement, I’ve designed couture masks as a tribute to healthcare workers. My team has also been sewing masks at no charge for people in my community and my residential building.

To learn more about my fashion brand VANIKA by Vanessa Kiraly click here

Why did you choose Ryerson Law?

What first attracted me to Ryerson Law was their dedication to creating lawyers that are practice-ready straight out of law school. I know I would really enjoy and flourish in this program because I am someone who learns by doing, as proven through my self-teachings with fashion design, photography, and event coordination. For the same reason, I really liked the idea of Ryerson’s co-teaching model. Learning from both professors and practitioners will allow students to gain practical skills and confidence needed to succeed as a lawyer.

I am also genuinely interested in learning about how technology can be implemented into law in order to make the practise of law easier, as learning various technologies were a big part of what allowed me to continue progressing as the owner of an independent fashion design business and as a member of the fashion industry in general. Being at Ryerson Law will allow me to stay close to both my family and the Toronto Fashion Community whom I wish to continue interacting with and hopefully provide legal services to upon graduating from law school.

What do you hope to accomplish with your J.D.?

I’m sort of entering Law School with an open mind. My undergraduate education and my professional endeavors have allowed me to explore both the fields of entertainment/fashion and the sciences. Although I’d like to keep my options open, my science background has led to an interest in working in either Intellectual Property Law or Health Law. Eventually I’d like to work as an in-house lawyer for a healthcare organization or for a hospital.

As a part of the inaugural cohort of Ryerson Law, what are you most looking

forward to?

One of the things I look forward to is the heightened sense of community and support I feel our law students have already been establishing through our Facebook chat groups and online club meetings. Because it is the inaugural year, our class is going to have to work extra hard to develop student associations and clubs for example, and to shift (at least some) of the focus off of the competitive nature of law school itself in order to make our school succeed and be welcoming for future cohorts. I enjoy the entrepreneurial challenge that comes along with building things from the ground up, just as I have done with my own fashion brand.


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