Inside Toronto Fashion Incubator’s 25th anniversary gala New Labels competition at the ROM

Photography by George Pimentel
Photography by George Pimentel

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“Never seen so many Canadian designed outfits worn at a gala in Toronto.” Derick Chetty’s tweet from last night’s Toronto Fashion Incubator fete said it all. The 25th anniversary party held at the Royal Ontario Museum was a Canadian fashion love-in.

CBC’s Nil Koksal pinned an enormous white orchid in her hair to match her floral Pink Tartan wrap dress. YSL Beaute’s Jane Connell rocked a crinolined Wayne Clark. And after stealing the Barbie runway show with her robot moves, The Listener’s Tara Spencer-Nairn slipped into a plum kimono dress with gold obi by Vawk.

Vawk’s Sunny Fong is an alumnus of the Incubator, a facility that helps designers launch or grow their business. The concept, now run by Susan Langdon, has been copied by 33 cities over the last 25 years.

Of course, the real help designers need is cold hard cash, and that came last night in the way of $10,000 to Thunder Bay native Sarah Nicol for a chevron-paneled Barbie dress modeled by Degrassi actress Meghan Heffern. Edmonton’s Sid Neigum picked up $25,000 for winning the New Labels show with minimalist unisex looks.

Canadian design wasn’t the only topic of conversation, though. Arie Assaraf revealed he will open a Brunello Cucinelli boutique as part of his strip of TNT shops on Eglinton Avenue West.