Last night was Toronto Fashion Incubator’s New Labels gala where four designers – GushueSwim by Cheryl Gushue, Jody Leigh, Thieves by Sonja den Elzen and Faren by Faren Tami – faced off in a runway competition for $25,000 in prizes from TFI and Elle Canada. (The specifics of the prize are near impossible to find, but surely there’s a magazine spread involved.)
The designers have been toiling for the past six months to perfect their collections. It’s nice to see Sonja den Elzen and her Thieves label gain more exposure. Her advice for any new designer is to have a strong point of view, and Sonja walks the talk here. Her collection for the urban nomad kept true to her eco-style by mixing in elaborate, chunky knits and leather with Tencel fabric and organic wool. The outfits were well-styled with oversized natural accessories by Toronto’s Dandi Maestre (also seen at Lucian Matis’ LG Fashion Week show).
Jody Leigh embraced family albums from the 1940’s in her first ever runway show. Some outfits were a bit overstyled, making one wonder how recognizable a Jody Leigh piece would look without the WWII pins and wide belt. There were some unique feminine touches here and there, but the polyester-blend fabrics were missing the elegance needed for her slim silhouettes.
Cheryl Gushue took us to Rio with an opening dance number from a couple of adorable Carnivale showgirls, then promptly continued the beach party with a collection of killer swimwear. Keep your eye on this label and don’t be surprised if it shows up on the cover of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition magazine (where models and swimwear alike are launched into the celebrity stratosphere). Kudos to Browns for providing unbelievable footwear…their spring line is all Italian and H-O-T.
The last spot in last night’s runway show was also the winner, Faren by Faren Tami. The audience seemed to love the collection judging by the frequent applause, impressive given it was also her first show. Faren’s approach was inspired by futuristic eco-architecture and included lots of interesting shapes. (The Faren labels on the outside of the clothes weren’t a favourite touch.) Winning the New Labels competition should be a pivotal moment in a young designer’s career, so here’s hoping we see lots more of Faren Tami going forward. (At the very least, we hope she builds a web site with her winnings!)