RISING DESIGN STARS
THE CANADIAN ARTS AND FASHION AWARDS SPOTLIGHT CANADA’S UP-AND-COMING DESIGN TALENT.
The Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards spotlight our country’s up-and-coming design talent.
Since their debut in 2014, the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards have become one of the top fashion events of the year. Canada’s answer to the CFDA Awards (Council of Fashion Designers of America), the CAFAs recognize emerging and established designers, making it an important barometer of where the local industry is at. The annual extravaganza, which takes place this year on April 7th, has spotlighted such notable Canadian designers as DSquared2, Erdem Moralioğlu, Jason Wu and Sid Neigum. From honouring design talent to celebrating accomplished models and photographers, the CAFAs showcase the True North’s evolving fashion industry.
This year is certainly no exception, with a new crop of rising stars entering the scene and joining the ranks of Canada’s fashion finest. One of these standout up-and-comers is accessory designer Garima Tewari, who was nominated for a Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent for her Toronto-based line Garéma.
Since starting her label, Tewari’s designs have been sported by actress Taraji P. Henson, who stars as Cookie Lyon on the Fox series Empire. Tewari has even had the opportunity to accessorize Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, who carried a Garéma clutch at a state dinner with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto.
“I was very thrilled and excited by this honour. It was a Sunday evening and the shipping offices were closed, so I drove down to Ottawa and personally hand delivered the clutch as I didn’t want to miss this amazing opportunity,” Tewari says, reflecting on the pivotal moment.
While Tewari’s designs are proudly Canadian, she derives her inspiration from various global locales, and describes the Palace of Versailles in France as one of her favourites. In fact, a visit to the stunning palace inspired her Chateau de Versailles collection of clutches.
When asked where she sees her label in five years, Tewari doesn’t shy away from the spotlight. “I see myself participating at prominent fashion weeks and runway shows in Milan and Paris,” she says. In addition to Canada, Garéma plans to retail in international cities such as Dubai, Paris, Milan, Rome, London and New York.
While the storied streets of the world’s fashion capitals may be the ultimate destination for many, Edmonton designer Malorie Urbanovitch is already making a name for herself closer to home. Known for its ethically conscious designs, her eponymous label is finding fans in her province’s small fashion community and across Canada, and has also been nominated for a CAFA for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent.
A University of Alberta film studies graduate, Urbanovitch gathers her creative energy from the silver screen. “I watch a lot of art house cinema. There is so much inspiration there,” she says. While she may have studied cinema, her true passion turned out to be fashion design, and she eventually launched her own brand in 2013.
Urbanovitch, who works with natural fibres such as alpaca and cashmere, describes the Malorie Urbanovitch wearer as “women who dress for no one but themselves.” She also strongly supports the ethical process behind her creations, which range from denim shirtdresses to flared khaki trousers.
“It really comes down to something as simple as making sure
my factory workers are paid good wages and that I am conscious of where my materials are coming from. Transparency is more difficult to achieve than you might think, but it’s always worth looking into, and it’s something that really matters to me,” Urbanovitch says.
Passion seems to be the driving force behind this year’s CAFA-nominated emerging designers. This is certainly the case for House of Nonie designer Nina Kharey, who is up for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent. Her structured yet modern pieces include peplum dresses and blouses, creamy white frocks and bohemian-chic ponchos.
Kharey launched her line in 2008 in her hometown of Calgary, and blossomed under the mentorship of former Holt Renfrew fashion director Barbara Atkin. However, the way ahead was not easy for Kharey, who is also a mother of two young children. She looks back on her personal journey as a rewarding yet certainly arduous one.
“You have to learn to keep pushing and never stop believing in your product. Barbara Atkin told me in the beginning that I’m on a very long and difficult road—she wasn’t lying,” Kharey says. Despite the difficulties, she describes her CAFA nomination as “amazing” and says it has “made all the effort worth it.”
CAFA co-founder and president Vicky Milner would agree. “The exposure for many people has been wonderful. It’s also been great to give young designers the knowledge that a platform like this exists in their home country,” she says.
A success in itself, the CAFAs give Canadians everywhere a chance to applaud and support local talent, while launching yet another generation of style stars into the international spotlight. Through the annual spring event, the awards are a welcome harbinger of things to come, especially from Canada’s emerging fashion talent.
House Of Nonie Malorie Urbanovitch