Toronto fashion week preview: The new designers on our radar

Last October, a breath of fresh air breezed through the grounds at Heritage Court⎯the home to “official” Toronto fashion week⎯in the form of an über hip group of young fashionites called The Fashion Collective. A sort of mélange of hype-making and style setting, PR maven Kate Mullin, stylist Dwayne Kennedy and producer Brian A. Richards brought the likes of Rita Liefhebber, Thomas, Amanda Lew Kee and Chloé Comme Parris to the official schedule. Whereas the edgy designers such as these would have previously stayed as far away from the official schedule as possible, the group bridged the gap between the established and the upstarts making the official week a hub for all. For the fall 2011 season starting on March 28th, the Collective’s got a whole new bag of tricks up their sleeve, introducing LABEL, Heather Lawton, Sid Neigum, and diepo into the Toronto fashion week womenswear stratosphere. Here’s our sneak peek of what these hot young things have got in store:


Two looks from LABEL's fall 2011 collection.

LABEL, designers Shawna Robinson, 29 and Natalie Sydoruk, 32
With a combined background in modeling, styling and buying, Ontario natives Robinson and Sydoruk have turned their focus to designing with their line of easy breezy layering pieces that are the virtual antithesis to logotastic status symbols.

Design DNA: Wearable sustainably made wardrobe building blocks with thoughtful unique detailing.

Fall 2011 inspiration: A “laundry day” theme of piled on loose layers inspired by the ‘90s grunge movement.

Muse: Our 13-year-old selves.

Left: A look from Heather Lawton's fall 2011 collection. Right: A collection sketch.

Heather Lawton, 30
Based in New York since moving to attend Parsons, this Prince Edward Island native is known for her luxe downtown approach. A little bit dark, a little bit romantic, Lawton experiments with fabrics like cashmere, goat hair, Mongolian lamb and quilted crocodile… just to name a few.

Design DNA: Leather, exotic skins (crocodile and python), chunky hand knits, rope, synthetic filigree mesh with the airlines of Nori seaweed.

Fall 2011 inspiration: the streets of New York⎯mixing Lower East Side grunge/rock/rave, Soho glam and Central Park in the winter after a snowfall.

Muse: NYC

Sketches from Sid Neigum's fall 2011 collection.

Sid Neigum, 22
Hailing from Drayton Valley, Alberta, Neigum has already garnered acclaim after securing an internship at Yigal Azrouël and showing at fashion weeks in both Edmonton and Vancouver. Currently attending F.I.T in New York, Neigum blends elements of the avant-garde with the aesthetic of nightlife subcultures in that city.

Design DNA: Mixing hard with soft, combining structure and drape, exploring texture, and experimenting with silhouette.

Fall 2011 inspiration: My inspiration for this season came from a multitude of sources and experiences I’ve had over the past year. I’ve found a lot of inspiration in my travels, particularly New York. Street fashion, nightlife, and museums like the MoMA and the Met have all been influential in my designs. Music has also played a part; Fever Ray and Club 75 at Coachella, new albums by Siriusmo, Gesaffelstein and Azari & III have been the soundtrack to the whole process. This collection was a quest for modernity.

Two looks from diepo's current collection.

diepo, designers Justine Diener, 27 and Kristin Poon, 29
After studying fashion design at Ryerson, the Regina and Toronto natives launched their vintage inspired label that is part shapewear and part daywear. Easily layered or worn on their own, the pieces are all about laid back sex appeal.

Design DNA: We take strong inspiration from vintage lingerie and classic silhouettes.

Fall 2011 inspiration: Campfires, lake swimming, Twin Peaks, George Shiras, and pheasant feathers.

Muse: Twin Peaks heroine Audrey Horne.