By Jill Adams
Photography by Robin Gartner, Aleyah Solomon and Olivier Boivin-Carrier
Following fashion weeks in Montréal and Ottawa, FAJO Magazine sought out the most innovative designers and those who made a real impression with their runway collections.
Take a look at what sets them apart, and why we believe they will have promising careers.
Born and raised on a farm in Western Canada, Brittany Wacher was educated in Vancouver before travelling abroad to gain experience in the fashion industry. Over the past three years, she has spent time in Asia, Europe and Canada, designing her Montréal-based label and working as a stylist for art and fashion publications in Thailand, as well as the assistant to Dutch designer Pauline van Dongen in Holland.
Her line, Brit Wacher, consists of ready-to-wear women’s and unisex pieces, and centres around the concept of duality by frequently combining structured tailoring with soft draping and subtle details.
Wacher’s spring/summer 2014 collection, which debuted at Montréal and Ottawa fashion weeks, comprised a white-and-black motif, shapely silhouettes and high necklines. Recurring masculine elements were interesting counterpoints to full-length feminine dresses. Introducing a new level of sophistication to her label, Wacher executed fashion-forward elements more subtly than she has in past collections.
UNTTLD, a line that debuted in 2011, is the collaborative work of Montréal designers Simon Bélanger and José Manuel St-Jacques. After graduating from Cégep Marie Victorin in fashion design, St-Jacques went on to study textiles and techniques at Concordia University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. Bélanger completed fashion design studies at LaSalle College and then earned a Master’s degree at the Domus Academy of Milan. The pair also interned and worked with Denis Gagnon.
Known for their sense of drama on the runway, the design duo offers prêt-à-porter collections infused with a conceptual essence. They are known for their signature blend of textures and fabrics, and for the use of soft, flattering silhouettes. At Montréal Fashion Week, Bélanger and St-Jacques showcased a structural collection, filled with sporty jackets, separates and dresses in white and black. Recurring risqué elements — including their use of a print created from enlarged images of cigarette butts, mesh and precariously high slits in skirts — were balanced with classic silhouettes.
Inspired by her mother, who created theatre costumes and children’s clothes, Mélissa Nepton was drawn to using fabrics as creative tools from a young age. She graduated from the fashion program at Marie-Victorin College before entering Montréal’s L’École supérieure de mode. Encouraged by her teachers to pursue an education abroad, Nepton continued her studies at L’École Nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Paris. Upon returning to Montréal, she worked as a buyer-designer for the Marie-Claire Group.
After appearing in reality TV series La Collection (Québec’s version of Project Runway), Nepton established her label and debuted her first collection at Montréal Fashion Week in 2009. In the following years, she garnered attention for her collections at both Montréal and Toronto fashion weeks, as well as among celebrities. In 2012, Nepton launched an online boutique that carries her collections, which are also available in more than 60 stores.
With strong tailoring and a modern use of textile, her collections offer ready-to-wear couture that bridges fashion and practicality. Influenced by Japanese culture, her latest line — titled Pikuseru (meaning “pixel” in Japanese) — featured structural shorts, relaxed ensembles in modern prints and pops of bright and deep blue, a departure from the collection’s otherwise white-and-black palette. Notable were two monochromatic, tailored separates.