Mercedes-Benz StartUp – Montreal semi-finals

September 6, 2011

By Alessandro Berga

Photography by Amy Lee Corkum and Sebastien Roy

Mercedes-Benz held its StartUp Designer Runway Presentations, another platform to foster Canada’s up-and-coming (and sometimes struggling) fashion designers, who’ve been in the business for five years or less.

Prior to the show, the judging panel had meetings with dozens of Montréal designers, evaluating their collections, asking them questions and reaching out for their visions. The judges then settled on a selection of five to walk the red-lighted contemporary style runway of Usine C (the cultural hub of Montréal and haven for theatre-goers, artists, performers and fashion exhibitors).

Spotlight on the designers.

The line-up included Martin Lim (Danielle Martin & Pao Lim), FAREN (Faren Tami), Travis Taddeo, Anastasia Lomonova and UNTTLD (Simon Belanger & José-Manuel St. Jacques): a blend of experience, youth and avant-garde.

Some of the participating designers.

Each designer showcased eight looks on the catwalk – mostly womenswear – that epitomized their designs.

Each designer also perfectly tailored their music selection to their fashion vision. Runway music can, indeed, make or break a show’s success.

Now onto the Mercedes-Benz jury:

  • Robin Kay, president of Fashion Design Council of Canada
  • Hans Koechling, show producer
  • Marie Saint Pierre, Quebec fashion designer
  • Teresa Eloy, the communications director of Fur Council of Canada
  • Joanne Caza, Mercedes-Benz Canada director of communications and public relations
  • Jarrad Clark, Global production director and Project Runway Australia, IMG Fashion
  • Patricia Gajo, Fashion magazine’s Montreal editor

Most designers opted for electro-house and dance music to get the audience and the prestigious jury’s attention. Nothing was subdued: there were no lounge or chillout tunes. As for the designers, Martin Lim team was memorable for its flawless bright, colour-blocked fluid dresses. The inspiration for the collection came from Danielle Martin, ex-intern with Christian Lacroix, and her two months of wandering around Paris and Berlin, scrutinizing les grandes portes.

UNTTLD’s collection was more of a front-row style with mini-skirts, plenty of fur and various shades of black. The talented duo Simon and José-Manuel proved that their love for high-quality garments paired with old couture techniques is the new modernism. “Undomesticated” is their motto. Indeed.

Anastasia Lomonova’s collection was also definitely the one to remember. Her simple, yet sophisticated frocks depicted a variety of dark looks that blew some members of the audience away. They were red silken and anonymous: her focus was on walking silhouettes, not women. Wrapped dresses draped with sumptuous delicate silk, a touch of fur and the delectable 70s, established her avant-garde flair and paired it with undeniable sartorial hold. Lomonova has a je ne sais quoi style – Alexander McQueen meet John Galliano at the peak of his career: fiery and scarlet, yet to be polished along the journey. Lomonova was also the winner of TFI’s 2010 New Labels Fashion show award, and had participated in FAT this year.

Models pose at the end of UNTTLD presentation.

The finalists of the event were Martin Lim, UNTTLD, Triarchy and Cassie Dee. The next step in the competition is for them to present their lines in a group show with three other designers at LG Fashion Week in October. Following the “Seven Royale” presentation, a winner will be chosen, who will be mentored by key influencers including Fashion Magazine’s editor-in-chief Bernadette Morra, in order to help him/her put together a solo show at LGFW next spring.

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