Mercedes-Benz Start Up’s Spring 2016 winner: See the looks from UNTTLD, Narces and more

mercedes benz start up 2015
Photography by George Pimentel

If at first you don’t succeed, enter the Mercedes-Benz Start-Up competition again. That was the lesson learned last night by Montreal’s UNTTLD, who lost the competition back in 2011, only to come roaring back to claim top spot in the cross-Canada talent search.

Designers Jose-Manuel St. Jacques and Simon Belanger delivered quietly seamed suits and dresses with subtle Japanese and Spanish influences including tassels, obi-belts and kimono-wrapping.

“Our dream is to travel but we put all our money into UNTTLD, so we travel through our clothes,” Belanger laughed. The pair win a $30,000 bursary, mentorship from a panel of experts, a fully-produced show at the next World Mastercard Fashion Week in March, and a spread in FASHION Magazine. “If we had won back then, the money would have disappeared,” Belanger said, admitting the two have learned a lot about the business in the last 4 years. “Now we know how to turn 30 into 60 and 60 into 90.”

And of course, there were other highlights from the competition.

Playing hooky
Calgary fashion student S.P. Badu skipped class to show unisex jackets with secret pockets and not-so-secret zipper pulls.

Trend alert
Beaufille sisters Chloe and Parris Gordon’s suede skirts, cropped flares and matted string dresses hit the right note of cool and crafty for spring.

Eco alert
Laura Siegel’s boho luxe looks were created in collaboration with rural artisans in Peru, Laos and India, where she slashes and reweaves tossed-out saris.

Wow moment
Seeing Narces designer Nikki Wirthensohn in a hot little white lace number dash off into a backstage corner to feed her newborn baby.

Front row
Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, in town to stage an alt-Christmas musical, and wife Suzette rocking black leather and hardware.

Fashion crime
Leinad Beaudet lost a garment bag somewhere between Montreal and Toronto. The Antwerp-trained designer, who apprenticed with Dries Van Noten, still impressed and we’d love to see him back for an UNTTLD-style round two.