By Justine Woolcott
Photography by Aleyah Solomon
At 23 years of age, Cara Cheung has already accomplished what many fashion designers only dream of: she has presented her clothing at the Toronto Fashion Week.
The North York native made her debut presentation in March, only one year after launching her first collection. Being successful is not foreign to Cheung who, in the past, has also interned at Chanel.
Cara Cheung describes her fall/winter line as one that is a “contract between technology and nature.” Structured and geometric shapes are blended with flowing fabrics to show the multitude of shapes found in nature. Sponsored by Swarovski, the collection was heavily influenced by warrior-wear and armour, says the designer.
Interestingly, Cheung adds that she had never planned on entering the fashion business before she started university. “I had a very academic upbringing,” she says. “Everyone expected me to do something more ‘traditional.’”
But Cheung wanted to explore her creative side and so she enrolled in the fashion design program at Ryerson University. She admits that before doing so she had never sewn anything and did not know much about the fashion industry. However, her taste for style was instilled at a young age.
“Ever since I was little, I would draw clothes,” she remembers. “I was always an artistic person.” Her mother’s great style has also played a role in influencing the designer throughout the years.
After graduating from Ryerson in 2010, Cheung decided to fully immerse herself in the fashion industry, build connections and prepare for the launch of her first collection in March 2011. That line was made entirely by Cheung because she had not yet found a manufacturer at that point. The designer had to sew every piece herself.
Those days are behind her now; Cheung has found a manufacturer and plans to start producing pieces for retail.
“I’m excited because it’s always really hard to get started with a new team,” she adds. “But I don’t have to do all the work myself. I’m nervous about how things will sell.”
However, if Cheung’s recent successes are a sign for the future, she has nothing to worry about. Her fan base is growing and she also has a jewelry line now that primarily focuses on delicate necklaces and bracelets. Singer Keshia Chanté wore one of Cheung’s handmade necklaces in a recent music video and the designer has also dressed Mia Martina and Liz Trinnear for the Juno Awards in April.