Ones to watch: Matière Noire and Malorie Urbanovitch make their Toronto Fashion Week debuts this season

Matiere Noire Malerie Urbanovitch
Photography: Raizonville by Nicolas Hoang; Models by Nikki Ormerod. Hair and Makeup by Robert Weir foré hair care; styling by Eliza Grossman.
Matiere Noire Malerie Urbanovitch
Photography by Nikki Ormerod. Hair and Makeup by Robert Weir foré hair care; styling by Eliza Grossman.

Now in its third year, the Mercedes-Benz Start Up competition celebrates some of the most exciting newcomers to hit Canada’s fashion scene. This year, two winners share the prize and applause: Montreal’s Matière Noire and Edmonton’s Malorie Urbanovitch. We go behind the seams of their award-winning spring collections:

Matiere Noire
Matière Noire designer Cécile Raizonville. Photography by by Nicolas Hoang

Cécile Raizonville grew up in the space age…literally. Her parents are engineers for France’s National Centre for Space Studies. “We used to visit all the time as kids, so I guess it had an effect,” says Raizonville, whose brand Matière Noire is named after the universe’s dark matter. Her approach, however, is rooted far in the past. For her spring collection, she collaborated with a weaver in Chénéville, Que., who worked for 40 hours on a traditional loom to produce five metres of a wool/silk blend that Raizonville used for bell-shaped skirts and sleeveless jackets. “It’s a reaction to designers who use fabrics but don’t know where they came from,” explains Raizonville, who grew up in Toulouse, studied fashion in Barcelona and worked in Paris and New York before settling in Montreal in 2012.
“I want to show my values—sustainability, community and collaboration—but at the same time I want to innovate.”

Malerie Urbanovitch
Malerie Urbanovitch

Malorie Urbanovitch loves silk—so much so that it is the star material of her eponymous line. If you’re wondering about the practicality of wearing silk every day, she’s thought of that too: “I found a silk that’s not only luxurious, it’s machine washable!” As for her knits, the itch-averse designer sourced mohair-look microfibre that is “out-of-this-world soft.” If it sounds like Urbanovitch is obsessive about materials, it’s no wonder. While at university, she also took courses in human ecology. “It’s a science degree focused on developing technical fabrics, like flame-retardant ones for firefighters,” she says. And while her silk pants and fluffy cardigans are meant for much less harrowing conditions (like a boardroom or a cinq à sept), they can handle hazards of a different sort. “The other night, I was wearing my yellow racer-front dress and spilled red wine on myself,” she says. “It beaded off like nothing happened.”