World Mastercard Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: designers to watch

October 14, 2014

World MasterCard Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015 is less than a week away.

This season, 34 designers and companies are going to showcase their latest collections. In our latest issue, FAJO has picked some of the most interesting and promising designers to look out for on the runway: critically acclaimed designer Matthew Gallagher, emerging talents competing in the Mercedes-Benz Start Up, Eliza Faulkner and Blak.i (Diego Fuchs and Helder Aguiar), and the only jewelry company to present their collection, Huntress (Ron LeBlanc and Diane Robinson).

They told us about their inspirations, highlights and upcoming creations.

Matthew Gallagher

Photos courtesy of Maison Matthew Mallagher

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Matthew Gallagher. Photo credit: Renata Kaveh.

How did you get started in the fashion industry?

I am from Amherst, Nova Scotia – a small town on the east coast of Canada. I went to school in Milan, Italy, and was there for five years. And then I was scouted by The Collections, which is a designer management company based in Toronto, and they asked if I was interested to come and show at World MasterCard Fashion Week. I took this opportunity, passed up everything in Milan and moved to Toronto to show my first collection in March 2013.

How would you describe the collection that you are going to present this season?

I wanted to focus on the fabrics and got all of them in Italy. It is the inspiration that I had: the idea that what fades in winter, comes new again in spring. The focus is on texture, embroidery and the interesting mix of colours, because when you think of a plant that was once beautiful, colourful, it then becomes more wilted and changed into fall colours. So it is just playing with those hues.

Since you have started working in the fashion industry, what was your most memorable design highlight?

I did a blue dress in spring/summer 2014. It was a simple blue dress, very clean, elegant-looking. I was surprised how much attention that specific dress got with orders and people wanted to borrow it for photoshoots. I just thought it was interesting how something so simplistic and clean could really have an effect on people.

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Eliza Faulkner

Photography courtesy of Eliza Faulkner

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Eliza Faulkner’s spring/summer 2015 collection is based on her time in Venice Beach, California.

What is your fashion background?

I started my business in 2012 after I moved back from London, England, where I had been studying at the Central St. Martin’s University. I interned and worked in London for a few years, for Zandra Rhodes and Roland Mouret. After I moved back from the U.K. to Canada, I couldn’t find work here and have always wanted to start my own thing. So this is how I started and it is going pretty well.

How would you describe your latest collection?

Spring/summer 2015 was inspired by L.A. I was in Venice Beach and got inspired by skater’s chic: youthful, cool, laid-back vibe. Also, there is a Canadian tuxedo, so there is a lot of denim. It’s about West-coasty denim.

Since you have started working in the fashion industry, what was your most memorable design highlight?

Probably showing at the World MasterCard Fashion Week last year.

Also, Nikki Reed and Lauren Cohan both wore my pieces on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Marisa Tomei was wearing one look for one of her film openings this summer. It was very exciting to see people like that wearing my designs.

What are you most nervous about for the upcoming Mercedes-Benz Start Up?

I am not really nervous, I am more excited about it! I did the first round of Mercedes-Benz competition in Victoria, as it is the closest for me to get to, and then all the finalists from four cities come to Toronto. Whatever happens, it is just fun to be in the city and participate in the show on a bigger scale like that. Everything looks great on the models, so I am very excited.

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Photos courtesy of Blak.i

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The designers for Blak.i describe their collection as having a late 60s, early 70s vibe.

What is your fashion background?

Diego: We met at the International Academy of Design, where we studied fashion. Shortly after leaving school, I was teaching there for a year as a teacher’s assistant and then started working for a local designer in Toronto. I asked Helder to come work with us. I worked there for about four years.

Helder: After I completed the Academy, I was working mostly with menswear for a year-and-a-half. And then, while working with Diego for three-four years for a local designer, we built a different type of relationship in terms of the work ethic, design and overall vision. There was a huge connection between us and, one day, we met at a local coffee shop and discussed how we should start our own label. This is how Blak.i was created, from a cappuccino and a chocolate-chip cookie!

How would you describe your new collection?

We always start with the inspiration that has a dark feeling to it. We started with black as an inspiration and then it went through the fabrication, a lot of weaving, prints and meshes, but also within the seamings and spaghetti straps. We are taking a darker inspiration for an everyday woman. It evolved from there. We added a lot of colour this season, which we haven’t done in the past. By the time we got to the show, it had almost late 60s-early 70s rocker vibe.

What is your unique vision?

We have a bit of a darker aesthetic. For us, craftsmanship and quality are key, so is a price point. We want to make apparel that is attainable to women. Not like, you know, when a girl comes to the store, tries everything on and then goes home thinking how she is going to save up money for three months for a dress she had fallen in love with.

What are you most nervous about the coming Mercedes-Benz Start Up?

Honestly, we don’t think we are nervous. You know, when you are backstage and the show is [on], every designer is nervous, because there are so many things happening and so many things can go wrong. But in terms of the show, for us this is a huge opportunity. We’ve wanted to show at fashion week for a long time. And having our collection displayed in Toronto and, hopefully, on the international scene, is huge. The most nervous thing for us would be walking on the runway after [the show].

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Photos courtesy of Huntress

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All pieces in the one-of-a-kind Huntress collection are handmade, and the gems hand picked by the designers.

How did you get started in the fashion industry? What is your background?

Ron: I started in gemology in 1980, so I’ve been in the gem business for a long, long time. I sourced all gems, so it has been a natural progression to get into the luxury-goods business.

Diane: And I started in 2004. I started working with Ron; we were in the fields, collecting gems, selling them, setting them for different private clients. In 2010, I went back to school, to Monaco, where I got my MBA in luxury marketing to take our company to the next level. Back then, Ron spent a lot of time in Bangkok, and started the designs of our purses, handbags, as well as the jewelry line.

How would you describe your new collection that you are going to present at fashion week?

Ron: These are bold, striking pieces. All of them are statement pieces, but because we are on a runway, we will be more inclined to the idea of a warrior woman. The hair is going to be quite striking. So it’s all about making that statement: “We have arrived!”, “We are bold and strong!” and “Here we are!” It’s been a long road for us and we are celebrating our arrival at the fashion week.

Diane: The pieces in the collection are also all one-of-a-kind. They all are handmade. The stone is the inspiration, and then it is crafted into strong pieces for powerful huntresses.

Since you have started working in the fashion industry, what was your most memorable design highlight?

Ron: The highlight for me was when we realized what we were. When we came to the “Huntress” and realized, that is our line, that we are integrated with what we do.

Diane: We had a television series Gem Hunt, which was aired in 141 countries. They followed Ron and I around the world hunting gems. On the show, I started calling myself “a huntress”.  While we were doing that and making jewelry, the essence of the “Huntress” was born.

It is uncommon for jewelry brands to showcase their collections at fashion week. Tell us a bit more about why and how you will be presenting this collection.

Diane: We have designed the costumes for the models. The shoes are provided by Townshoes, but that is part of the package from IMG [Editor’s note: IMG organizes fashion week.]. And they will not be sexy high heels, but something that a powerful huntress would have worn in a forest. We want to showcase the jewelry to make a statement, we are the only jeweler at fashion week. And it is very important for us to show here, because we are from Toronto, this is our hometown.

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By Darina Granik

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