Nominated by Montreal’s Suhaila Niazi (the winner of 2012 Vote Couture for the Cure™), Alan Ta may be the only designer who finished a degree in pharmaceuticals before deciding that fashion was his true métier. Vietnam-born and raised, Ta is a LaSalle College fashion grad whose very first mini-collection, in 2013—a series of elegant flowing gowns in chic neutral silks and chiffons—proved a template for his approach to stylish women’s evening wear. “I like to offer a flowing silhouette that’s flattering, not too revealing, classic. My idea is to give women confidence.”
When Alejandro Mendoza interned for Montreal designer Nadya Toto, his nominater, she observed first-hand his “many great qualities, including impressive creativity and incredible workmanship.” A Mexico native with Cegep Marie-Victorin training, Mendoza participates in (mostly charity) events like the White Cashmere Collection to introduce the fashion industry at large to his uniquely glamorous, ultra-feminine take on contemporary women’s wear. His long-term goal is an affordable-chic, Canada-proud label. But more immediately, he’s searching for an atelier space. “You know, we beginners always start out making our stuff in the kitchen,” he says with a smile.
It makes perfect sense that Ðuc C Nguyên’s women’s wear tends toward unexpected volumes and formidable sculptural silhouettes: he studied architecture at the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal and industrial design at the Université de Montréal before earning his fashion degree at UQAM. A firm believer in multidisciplinary design, he says, “The creation processes are the same. Only the mediums, the materials change.” Now, thanks to an internship with (and subsequent nomination by) White Cashmere Collection veteran designer Joseph Helmer, this Saigon-born, Montreal-based talent will have a chance to work with luxurious bathroom tissue! @duccnguyen
Elysé Désinor met his White Cashmere Collection patron, Luko Marion, by chance at the Montreal fabric store where Désinor works. Impressed by the self-taught, Haiti-born designer’s fascination with fabric and evident creative drive, Marion tapped him for the class of 2014. Désinor, inspired by his mother’s dressmaking skills and hours spent watching FashionTelevision, got his first sewing machine in 2011 and one of his very first creations was a shirt bearing a pink ribbon for a Breast Cancer charity event. Today he designs edgy men’s and women’s clothes in carefully-selected, often exuberantly-patterned fabrics under his Trap McCarthy brand. By special order via Facebook or trapmccarthy.weebly.com.
Eugene Paunil was caught by surprise when his younger cousin Christopher Paunil (the winner of 2011 Vote Couture for the Cure™) nominated him for this year’s White Cashmere Collection. “He didn’t even ask beforehand. I guess he had faith I could do this.” To date, the elder Paunil, a Toronto-based OCAD grad, has primarily focused his talents on sculpture, furniture design and conceptual costumes and props. With 3D work that spans various media, from ceramic, wood and foam to bronze and ice, he says of tackling White Cashmere Bathroom Tissue, “I’ve been thrown into creative projects before, but none as unique as this.” @EugenePaunil
It’s not entirely surprising that Vancouver’s favourite futurist, David Jack, has nominated Evan Clayton for this year’s White Cashmere Collection. Clayton is a Blanche MacDonald fashion design graduate whose runway collections (three, to date) explore the risky and risqué boundaries of women’s wear, while demonstrating real fluency in fabric innovation, tailoring and draping. There’s already plenty of buzz about this 21-year-old who can synthesize inspiration from Japanese animé designer Yoshitaki Amano with appreciation for performance artists like Lady Gaga to produce arresting clothing concepts for the daring real life fashionista. @Evan_Clayton
Multi-tasking seems to be in Franciska Veress’ blood. On the brink of expanding her 5-year-old Veress Couture line of sophisticated fur accessories to include stylishly warm wool and cashmere coats, she’s also served, since 2011, as co-designer of Whitney Linen, a high-end, all-linen men’s and women’s wear collection. And now, thanks to Rita Tesolin, who nominated her, this Hungary-born, Toronto-based design dynamo will be bringing her unique fashion sensibility to luxuriously soft bathroom tissue for the 2014 White Cashmere Collection. @VeressCouture
When Hilary MacMillan uses shimmer, faux fur, colour-blocking, sequins and leather to put her own special spin on ladylike classics such as the pantsuit or the little black dress, people take notice. Among them, the Montreal Gazette, the Vancouver Sun, Flare.com and Lucian Matis, who recommended MacMillan for this year’s White Cashmere Collection (WCC). MacMillan launched her eponymous label in 2012 and ever since, this talented Toronto-based UBG grad has chosen Canadian-sourced silks, stretch cottons, jerseys, wools and leather to carve her niche in the country’s luxe women’s wear scene. MacMillan’s designs are available at hilarymacmillan.com. @hilarymacmillan
Sunny Fong, himself last year’s Vote Couture for the Cure™ winner, has tapped Ken Chow for the 2014 White Cashmere Collection. An FIT grad who apprenticed with Marc Jacobs, Chow has, more than 10 years, developed a solid reputation for raffishly modern, superbly-tailored, military-inspired menswear and bags. Appetite for his Toronto-based, made-in-Canada line, KRANE, has spread across North America (e.g. Fred Segal, L.A.; Barneys, New York; Gravity Pope, Calgary & Vancouver) all the way to John’s Clothing in Tokyo. @kranedesign
Lise Godel may have gotten her formal training at Capilano College and Ryerson, but one suspects it’s her post-grad work as a film and stage costumer, a tailor and a milliner that’s honed her design vision. Based in Toronto, the special occasion and custom dresses Godel creates today have a signature look: timeless femininity with confident tailoring and a soupçon of vintage vibe. Fellow milliner, David Dunkley, has nominated Lise Godel for this year’s White Cashmere Collection. @coeurdelise
It’s no wonder the duo behind the Martin Lim label is Philippe Dubuc’s choice for the 2014 White Cashmere Collection. Danielle Martin and husband Pao Lim bring seriously impressive credentials—including studies at UQAM, Master of Art’s from London’s Central Saint Martins, working at Christian Lacroix and Roland Mouret and an exclusive line for Reitmans—to their Montreal-based fashion business. Since 2010, they’ve established a reputation for deceptively simple, undeniably modern, totally wearable women’s clothes in deliciously sophisticated palettes. @MARTIN_LIM_
If your dream is creating high-impact jewellery and accessories, having diva Grace Jones wear one of your chain-embellished eye patches is the best wake-up call imaginable. With that exciting milestone under his belt, Nova Scotia native Myles Sexton has gone on to turn out attention-demanding unisex necklaces, earrings, corsets and multi-finger rings in everything from silver-spiked leather to iridescent Elytra beetle wings. Selected for this year’s White Cashmere Collection by women’s wear designer, Caitlin Power, this Toronto-based model/makeup artist/designer has added the likes of Nelly Furtado, Kreesha Turner and Emily Haines to his fan base. @MylesSexton
When it comes to identifying promising fashion talent on the Montreal scene, no one’s better placed than Marie Saint Pierre. Her nominee, Pedram Karimi, is already making waves with his unisex clothes—shorts, tops, jackets, shifts—executed in minimalist, origami-like layers of high quality, modern fabrics. It’s tempting to attribute Karimi’s no-boundaries design sensibilities to his life experience: Born in Iran, he spent his teenage years in Austria, then began studies at the London College of Fashion before finishing his degree at LaSalle College Montreal. @PedramKarimi
Thunder Bay native Sarah Nicol is getting used to accolades. An honours graduate of the Seneca College fashion program and the 2007 winner of the Fashion Incubator’s New Labels design competition (as well as TFI’s Barbie-inspired fashion challenge), she’s won the admiration of—and a regular gig with—her WCC nominator, Izzy Camilleri, as well as attention from Canada’s leading style books, including ELLE Canada and FLARE. Leather, lace, 70s prints, jersey, linen. They’re all in Nicol’s comfort zone when the goal is her special brand of modern, flatteringly avant-garde women’s separates. Sarah is crafting her garment from Cashmere UltraLuxe, Cashmere’s softest, most luxurious bathroom tissue ever. @sar_couture
Tapped by White Cashmere Collection eminence grise Farley Chatto, Toronto artist/clothing and textile designer Sarah Stevenson has quite a range; so far, in addition to her self-named women’s wear collection, she’s designed for Barbie, the National Ballet and Target. After studying at George Brown and earning a master’s at Milan’s Institute of European Design, Stevenson launched her luxe, made-in-Canada fashion label in 2010. In 2013, she won the prestigious TFI New Label’s competition and was also the recipient of the CAFA Emerging Talent Award. It’s proven a perfect showcase for her seductive, sophisticated nature-based prints and original fabrics. @SarahAStevenson