In August, an esteemed panel of industry experts traveled to Victoria, British Columbia, Gatineau, Québec and Burlington, Ontario to identify designers who showed the most talent and potential to benefit from the Mercedes-Benz Start Up program. Following an intense day of interviews and presentations, semi-finalists showcased their collections on the runway to the national judging panel and local industry insiders. From these regional semi-finals, six designers were chosen as finalists to present their Spring/Summer 2015 Collections at the National Finale group show at World MasterCard Fashion Week in Toronto.
The Mercedes-Benz Start Up 2014/2015 program finalists include: Each of these Canadian front runners is striving for the highly coveted title of Mercedes-Benz Start Up Awarded Designer, a $30,000 bursary and the invaluable mentorship that comes with the prestigious title.
Beaufille – a Toronto-based womenswear and accessories brand founded by sistersChloe and Parris Gordon. The line references historical design elements within a modern context to create a sophisticated tough girl aesthetic. The Gordon sisters attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, and through their exposure to all forms of art created a brand that draws on their collective experiences.
Laura Siegel – an award-winning fashion designer, Laura Siegel is based in Toronto. Her ethically handcrafted, easy-to-wear textured pieces are designed in collaboration with artisans in Asia and Latin America. After receiving her formal design education at Parson’s School of Design in New York City and London’s Central Saint Martins’, Siegel honed her skills in silver-smithing, knitting, natural dyeing, embroidery and accessory design with top industry professionals and skilled artisans.
BLAK.I – created in 2010 by designers Helder Aguiar and Diego Fuchs, BLAK.I is a lifestyle brand that fully encapsulates the wardrobe of the cutting edge contemporary woman. Collections range from fashion-forward intricately cut separates to fluid dresses and cutting edge leather garments. The brand combines each designer’s aesthetics and features details with a modern and streamlined feel.
VAIKEN – created by designer Valerie Tolila, the line is developed in harmony with today’s real, radiant and confident woman. As a law student in 2000, Tolila left to live abroad where for the next 13 years she worked in the fashion industry as a stylist for small designers and fashion magazines; Tolila then returned to Canada to study fashion at LaSalle College in Montreal. While in Portugal, she was mentored by Antonio Augustus and decided to create a capsule collection. She received several orders and began creating unique pieces including evening gowns and embroidered garments. As interest in her collection grew,she decided to launch her own label, VAIKEN.
Eliza Faulkner – a contemporary womenswear line by designer Eliza Faulkner, based out of Vancouver Island. After studying at Central St. Martin’s in London, England, and working for Erdem and Roland Mouret in the UK, Faulkner returned home to launch her namesake label in 2011. Combining sporty details, classic silhouettes, and luxurious natural fibres, Eliza Faulkner can be worn day or night; to work or on weekends; and always with elegance and ease. The collections are designed and manufactured on Vancouver Island, Canada.
Sid Neigum – born in Alberta, trained in New York, and currently based in Toronto, designerSid Neigum sells to stores in New York, L.A, Hong Kong, Seoul and Toronto. Neigum was the recipient of the Toronto Fashion Incubator's New Labels Award in 2012 and in the past year has dressed celebrities including Azari and III and Boys Noize.
Immediately following the National Finale show, one designer will be chosen by the panel of judges to receive the title of Awarded Designer. This designer will receive continued mentorship from the panel of experts, editorial coverage across leading domestic and international publications (including editorial support from FASHION Magazine), as well as a fully produced solo runway show at the World MasterCard Fashion Week in March 2015. And new this season, the Awarded Designer will also receive a $30,000 bursary that will be administered by an experienced mentoring team who will guide and support the designer’s vision while ensuring that the funds are used equitably.
Past Awarded Designers, MARTIN LIM, DUY, Malorie Urbanovitch and Cécile Raizonville of Matière Noire, have received international accolades and enjoyed many exclusive opportunities through the program, demonstrating the numerous advantages and tangible benefits to potential participants for the 2014/2015 cycle.
Mercedes-Benz Start Up