Cashmere couture: Canadian designers, good cause

September 30, 2011

Text by Hannah Yakobi.

Photos by Kalynn Friesen.

It’s a couture fashion show unlike any other.

Stunning Victorian-style gowns, bodices, multiple layers of frills, extra long and medium-length trains, prima ballerina-like frocks and cute mini-dresses à la 50s.

The eighth annual White Cashmere Collection brought together 15 Canadian designers – both established and emerging – and left the audience in awe at the Art Gallery of Ontario this Wednesday.

Farley Chatto (centre), curator of the show, with guests.

The nature of the fabric that all designers used was the most striking aspect of the show. Each designer was commissioned to make a couture piece out of 100 per cent Cashmere bathroom tissue.

The White Cashmere Collection 2011 heralds the return of limited-edition Pink Cashmere, as a fundraiser for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. In fact, 25 cents from the sale of each package will go directly towards CBCF throughout breast cancer awareness month in October.

Designers participating in this year’s show were Philip Sparks, L’Autre Couture by Luko Marion, Marika Brose, José-Manuel St-Jacques, LOVAS by Wesley Badanjak, Richard Robinson, Christopher Paunil, LIZARES by Brian Maristela, Carrie Hayes, Jason Matlo, Simon Bélanger, Franco Mirabelli and Hoax Couture by Chris Tyrell and Jim Searle.

Ever Thine hats were provided by Mikki Rizvi and all accessories were by Rita Tesolin.

The show was curated by Canadian fashion designer Farley Chatto, who said he “was delighted to assemble such a wonderful crew of designers” for the show and “thrilled to be involved.”

One of the most striking dresses at the show was Luko Marion’s piece. It was assembled from more than 3,000 buttons. Each button was purely made of Cashmere tissue and framed in a metallic circle.

Montreal-based Marion said that making dresses which purely consist of buttons is his personal trademark.

Luko Marion (left) with a model in his creation.

“The piece feels a little cold if you touch it, because of the metal around it,” he said.

“I enjoy working with different textures and fabrics, so when Cashmere approached me a few months ago with a proposal to participate in this show, I was immediately interested.

“I think the show was great and all designers did an amazing job.”

Another highlight at the show was Richard Robinson’s classic evening gown with a long train.

“I love to design evening wear, so with this piece I tried to create the same effect that I would with silk,” said Robinson, whose client roster includes Aline Chrétien, Michaëlle Jean and Catherine Deneuve.

“It was an interesting challenge, as I have never made a dress from tissue paper before. I think that everybody is touched by breast cancer, so this cause is especially important to me and close to my heart.”

He added that his mother-in-law and many of his clients have all fought breast cancer.

Robinson has also done his entire Grande première 2010 collection in pink, in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Network.

Pink-themed drinks were passed around at the event.

Guests, media and designers mingled after the show and posed with models who lined up on the catwalk with packages of Cashmere in hand.

They also sipped on pink-themed drinks that were passed around by cocktail servers. Each gust also received a pink swag bag with various goodies.

“We are a Canadian company and we love showcasing Canadian designers,” said Nancy Marcus, corporate vice-president of consumer marketing at Kruger Products that produces Cashmere.

“The show has a strong vision of Fashion with Compassion.”

She added that she greatly admired all the dresses at the event: “I would definitely wear them myself. They are all so creative and lovely!”

Sketches from the show

Courtesy of designers.

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Runway photos

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Guest and event photos

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