A muse, a spouse, a business partner or a friend — behind every fashion designer is an inspiration. For many, it’s the person who motivates them to do better, season after season. And while some have more than one inspiration, there is always that one individual — the confidante, the number one.
With fashion week season abuzz, FAJO’s senior editorial team went behind the scenes to investigate who inspires Canada’s top fashion designers. Here are their stories.
David Dixon & Suzanne Rogers
Photography by Robin Gartner
Suzanne Rogers’ hair by Rose Corbo; make-up by Arabella Trasca
“I looked at that image and thought, ‘That’s the power woman.’ You don’t have to be hard to be powerful, you just have to be authentic, honest and have a sense of direction. Suzanne has that,” says Dixon.
“Women of influence inspire me, women both living and in spirit who motivate me to do my part.”
The two met four or five years ago at a Toronto International Film Festival party. Rogers was wearing a pair of Louis Vuitton thigh-high boots; the same style that Madonna had worn a week before. “You’re wearing the Madonna boots!” Dixon exclaimed.
In retrospect, David says it was Rogers’ smile and philanthropic passion that first caught his attention. From then on, the two have developed a friendship based on humour, honesty and fashion banter.
“He can make me laugh all night,” says Rogers. “He has worked really hard to not only make these beautiful, timeless [clothes], but also establish a reputation as someone who has a kind and gentle soul. His creative process really shines through and so does his personality.”
Farley Chatto & John Bradley
Photography by Kareen Mallon
As one of Canada’s top designers, Farley Chatto is no stranger to the intense world of fashion. But when he comes home, it’s his husband, John Bradley, who is his rock.
“I always say John is the calm to my storm. Being a creative person, my mind is always racing through 3,000 things at once,” says Chatto.
“He constantly believes in me and provides me with stability, which I think every creative person needs.”
The two met online about seven years ago and proceeded to opt for a casual first date over fish and chips in Toronto. Within their first three dates, they realized it was meant to be. Chatto seamlessly fit within Bradley’s friend group and in turn, Bradley (who works in the biochemistry industry) had no trouble donning a tux and attending fashion-related events alongside Chatto.
After three weddings around the world, the couple continues to complement each other, with Bradley inspiring Chatto’s new collections.
“We’re individuals who share our lives together. We can share completely different worlds with each other,” says Bradley. “The overlap is people who are very good at what they do.”
John Muscat & Jennifer Wells
Photography by Aleyah Solomon
Behind LINE Knitwear is a mutually inspiring relationship between long-time business partners, John Muscat and Jennifer Wells.
It all started when Muscat first saw Wells at a fashion show in London, Ontario. She was sporting a bleach-blonde pixie cut and a PVC cheerleader’s outfit, not unlike the rest of the clubwear in her store, Mama’s Kitchen.
“I saw her walking across the room and thought, ‘Who the blank is that?’” says Muscat. It wasn’t long before he showed up at her store, requesting a custom pair of crape overalls.
Fast-forward 20 years and you’ll find the two dynamos working as a team.
“I’ve always been inspired by her work ethic and her tenacity to execute on the crazy schedule we are on,” says Muscat. They both push each other to be better, while sometimes pushing each other’s buttons.
“We argue about stuff all the time and he’s usually right, which makes me crazy,” says Wells, with a laugh. “He’s the big-picture guy, and he inspires me that way because he’s always looking for ways we can be better.”