Mercedes-Benz Start Up awards Duy Nguyen as its Quebec City semi-finalist!

Photography courtesy of IMG Fashion
Photography courtesy of IMG Fashion

See the winning collection! »

After last year’s impressive show in Montreal, 2012 saw the Mercedes-Benz Start Up semi-finals set up shop in Quebec City. And so it was at the fairy tale-esque Château Frontenac where I was reunited with the permanent panel from last year’s inaugural edition, plus two new local fashion experts.

JoAnne Caza, the captain of Mercedes-Benz Canada, wowed me with her perfect bilingualism (she’s from the West Island). Local Twitter fashion fans were ecstatic about photogenic Aussie-native Jarrad Clark who heads IMG Fashion—and who was also a judge on Project Runway Australia. Then, of course, there was Hans Koechling, president of The Image Is (who just got back from working on Next Top Model in Britain), and, the Simon Cowell of the group, Robin Kay, president of the FDCC. Joining me in guest judge duties were Christiane Garant of Myco Anna and Louise Maheux from Simons.

The four up-and-coming brands that were invited to show in a group runway presentation were Masabni by Jennifer Masabni, Duy by Duy Nguyen, By Thomas by Natasha Thomas and the eponymous Catherine Henry. I was delighted to meet up backstage with super-stylist Christina Louiso (she jetted the very next day to work in Merida, Mexico) who put together four distinctive looks for the designers. Front row seats were reserved for none other than Pao Lim and Danielle Martin, the dynamic duo behind 2011’s winning label Martin Lim.

After the judges’ deliberations, we all decided that Duy had the chops to move forward to the final round to be held at World MasterCard Fashion Week in Toronto in October. His couture silhouettes and avant-garde detail floated elegantly down the runway. On the train ride home, Nguyen was actually my seat neighbour and so I already have insight on his future design plans. But I guess I’ll have to wait with everybody else to see the fruits of his labour. Good luck, Duy!

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