Canadian Fashion House Party

This past weekend brought the inaugural Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards (CAFA) to life at the Fairmont Royal York. The official raison d’être, “CAFA was created to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievement and emerging talent in Canadian fashion design.” 

But this was not just another awards show. This was the first time the fashion industry gathered to honour the best in our country. I repeat, the first time. As a member of the official nominating committee, I am proud to have been a part of the process.  Unlike the music, literary, stage and screen industries, Canada’s fashion world – until now – didn’t have an event to crown its own for their outstanding talents.  Only time will tell if receiving a CAFA has a positive impact on one’s career. Until it does, we’re just shouting in a bubble. And since it’s our first bubble, I vote we get dressed up and have a party. And party we did! 

But wait!  What every black tie gala in Canada needs is a snowstorm, right?  I love that Canadians are such a hearty bunch. By the outfits you would never know we all left our boots at coat check. 

Coco Rocha, Lisa Tant and me

Arriving at the gala, I was soon accosted by four young fashion design students who were volunteering for the event. “We love your dress,” they exclaimed in unison. “It’s a Jay Godfrey,” I responded. “Do you know him?” Blank stares. “Consider this your first lesson, ladies, look him up.” 

Welcome to the underground world of Canadian fashion!

I love Jay Godfrey‘s designs. His sizing is consistently perfect, I don’t even require a fitting.  In fact, I rented the dress from Rent frock Repeat for that very reason. (Although locals can schedule in person fittings.) I wanted something new without plunking down a few hundred for a dress I would likely wear once.

The CAFAs did a fine job of getting some big names out for the first annual event — Dean and Dan from DSquared2, Coco Rocha, Joe Mimran and Jeanne Beker, who took home the 2014 Vanguard Award. Ten awards were given out for excellence in fashion, styling and image maker categories: 

Womenswear Designer of the Year Award – Jeremy Laing

Menswear Designer of the Year Award – Travis Taddeo

Emerging Talent Award – Sarah Stevenson

Outstanding Achievement Award – DSquared2

Accessory Designer of the Year Award – Want Les Essentials de la Vie

Canadian Style Award – Joe Mimran

Image Maker Award – Chris Nicholls

International Canadian Designer of the Year Award – DSquared2

Stylist of the Year Award – George Antonopoulos

Model of the Year Award – Coco Rocha

Truthfully, only Sarah Stevenson stands to benefit from her award, with a $10,000 prize, a spring/summer ’15 lookbook and mentorship from Joe Mimran, this year’s Honorary Chair.  I’ve had my eye on her since her humble design beginnings a few years back.  As a Canadian she’s still humble, but with the right direction this young talent could follow in the footsteps of fellow Canadian, Erdem Moralioglu or Mary Katrantzou.
Sarah Stevenson Fall Winter 2013

Shoplisted: Vancouver’s Hot Retail Spots

Last month I mixed business with pleasure during a week in Vancouver, discovering a plethora of great fashion spots in the process. Eco-fashionista Nicole Bridger just opened her new flagship store (2151 West 4th Avenue) in Kitsilano. Staying true to her environmentally conscious roots, the shops boasts green design (think elegantly reclaimed, recycled) by Vancouver’s New Leaf Interiors.    
If you’re a Nicole Bridger fan don’t miss her photo contest by submitting a photo wearing your favorite Nicole Bridger Design and why you love it by July 31st. The best picture and answer (creativity and originality rule) will win a $100 NBD gift certificate.    
Malene Grotrian welcomed me into her studio for a tour of her latest collection and a glass of bubbly. The super friendly designer, originally from Denmark, is quite effervescent herself. But it’s clearly her expert knack for draping and fit that keep her clients coming back. Bring your girlfriends to Malene’s studio for one of her upcoming Style Soirees or hit her upcoming Open Studio on July 24th (Suite 910 – 207 West Hastings Street, in The Dominion Building) from 10am – 3pm. 
Two retail shops worth checking out: The Velvet Room Boutique (2248 West 41st Avenue) which exclusively supports Canadian designers like LOVAS, Sarah Stevenson and Karamea. They have a wide selection of apparel, accessories and leather goods. And you don’t have to be in Vancouver to enjoy Charlie and Lee (223 Union Street). Luckily, for those of us who are geographically challenged, they sell online. I’m currently coveting accessories by Moon Raven and shoes by Jeffrey Campbell
Finally, Stuart Weitzman recently opened a new boutique at the Oakridge Center. That’s all. (Since when do I need to say more about great shoes?)