Shoplisted: NADA’s New Pop Shop

For any designer, having your own retail store is the dream.  The freedom you feel when you finally have your own apartment sans roommates must be similar to what designers enjoy when finally faced with a retail establishment to call their own.
Nada Shepherd shared this new freedom last night at Bayview Village with the official launch of her new shop named for her signature label, NADA.  A sleek, sexy interior of white walls and wood floors was accessorized with simple clothing displays and no less than 13 mannequins.  And while  this is a somewhat temporary location – a year, to start – the fact that nothing was nailed down spoke less to the idea of it being a temporary “pop-up shop” than to the possibility she could experiment with different store layouts.  Still, when and if the NADA store moves on, everything in the place can easily follow.
Experimentation is a major benefit with your own retail space.  I immediately noticed new garments hanging on racks that never made the runway. “Designed for retail,” Nada explained.  Once you have your own spot to sell things you can make capsule collections and even one-offs that never hit your retail partners’ floors.  You also have a place to test drive new products – accessories, fragrances, all of those things that drive the bottom line of big labels like Marc Jacobs and Chanel.  (What, you thought it was the ready-to-wear?!)
Designing your own store, while exhilarating, comes with a whole new set of challenges.  Like buying mannequins, what should they look like?  The feet?  Hands?  What about the face?  How many dressing rooms are needed?  Where should the checkout be?
NADA is a perfect addition to Bayview Village’s collection of Canadian retail.  While the upscale mall may live outside most young fashionistas’ comfort zone (speaking geographically or financially, or both) it is a beacon to the Canadian designer-turned-retailer.  Between Andy The-Anh, Brian Bailey, Mirabelli and Ross Mayer to name a few, NADA is in good company.

An All Night Fashiony Art Thing

Heidi Ackerman pushes the envelope with dazzling knits. Photo by George Pimentel.

Toronto musician Lights wins the Best New Artist Juno wearing Maybe by Sarah Catalfo

Torontonians would be smart to get some extra shut eye tomorrow night. Saturday, October 3rd is Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, officially billed as a “free all-night contemporary art thing.” With 130 art projects spread over three geographical zones in the city, there is plenty to see. But if you’re looking for the fun and fashionable, there is only one place to be.

The Art of Fashion takes over the Fermenting Cellar in the historic Distillery District from 7pm – 3am Saturday for a design competition and trunk show. Ten designer finalists – a group whose work is definitely more art-based than ready-to-wear – have been chosen to exemplify and interpret the Art of Fashion’s theme Iconic Power. Guests to the show will have an opportunity to weigh in with their vote for Best Exhibit and Most Promising Designer. Votes will be tallied with those of AOF’s guest judges (including designers Brian Bailey, Shawn Hewson and David Dixon) for two winners.

The finalists are an amazing bunch. Anyone remember seeing Lights capture the 2009 Juno Award for Best New Artist? I do. And I clearly remember wondering who made her dress. That would be Art of Fashion finalist Sarah Catalfo, who has been crafting one-of-a-kind pieces for friends since 2004 under her label Maybe.

Fellow finalist Heidi Ackerman was a stand out last March in the Ryerson alumni fashion show at LG Fashion Week. The timid need not apply here, Ackerman’s wild knits are meant to dazzle with their couture-like construction. And people are taking note. FASHION magazine recently featured a few of her fall pieces in their September 2009 issue.

There is way more talent to discover at the Art of Fashion, plus a trunk show featuring Canadian designed clothing and accessories. Bring your wallet. Bring a Red Bull. But most of all bring an open mind. This is art, after all!

Note: The Art of Fashion exhibit runs from 7pm – 3am. The trunk show runs 7pm – midnight.

Hopes Smashed Eternally

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  

This week’s Project Runway Canada brought some delicious and some cringe-worthy moments.  While the Kim vs. Jeff drama continued, we watched poor Jeff sink to a new low.  Blame it on lack of sleep, stress, the barrage of negativity coming from many sides…the dude drew fake stitches on a dress.  (Which wouldn’t be so bad if we hadn’t already witnessed him glue a dress together in an earlier episode. Eeesh.)

Thankfully we had a chance to discuss this with him, and it turns out he’s supposedly REALLY talented with hand detailing.  But given the show’s challenging crunch times, we never got to see this side of Jeff.  (His new website may finally give us a peek at this hidden talent once it launches.)  Regardless of how Kim felt about him, he can’t be a slouch of a designer – he’s worked with Brian Bailey and Wayne Clark after all!  

So we’re going to enroll him with a complimentary time management course and wish him the best.  The most delicious moment on the show was watching Jessica win the Winners’ challenge.  Her dress will actually be produced and carried by Winners stores – in fact, limited locations began selling it in fun spring colours as of today!  We can hear her now — Jessica Biffi in the HOOOOUSE!

P.S. The military-inspired coat on Michaelle Jean?  Care of the legendary Pat McDonagh!  Keep your eyes peeled for Pat’s red dress at the Heart Truth Show during LG Fashion Week.

Television’s Most Stylish Drama

The holidays are definitely over which means you can now waste your weeknights in front of new television shows, instead of has-beens and reruns.  We’re just two weeks away from a new season of Project Runway Canada.  The show begins its sophomore season on Tuesday, January 27th (Global, 10pm) with Iman as our queen hostess along with Brian Bailey as mentor and Rita Silvan and Shawn Hewson as judges.  

Many loyal fans of the original Project Runway believed Canada’s version was better, but those people live here and we’d expect them to say that.  It was a great first season to be sure.  Now here’s hoping Iman has loosened up in her delivery and pray they don’t edit out the judges personality. 

Canadian cover girl Coco Rocha and designer Wayne Clark will appear as guest judges.  At some point actress Elisha Cuthbert will also appear as a judge.  I’m not familiar with Elisha’s style (to say nothing about her work) and after a brief Google search I know why.  With her penchant for wearing very little, if any clothing at all, we can only presume Elisha appears in the “invisible clothes” episode.  

Stay tuned…

P.S. Join the F-list Wednesday, January 28th, with Shernett Swaby (from PRC season one) for the Designer Spotlight Series!  Meet Shernett and talk fashion and PRC2 over cocktails!  Details on the F-list!