Edmonton had never seen anything like it before. Over the course of two short days, fashion industry experts from New York and Toronto bulldozed into a city of over a million people and changed its fashion beat.
The Mercedes-Benz Start Up program, now in its second year, has again begun its search for the next big Canadian designer, and last night, asked five of the top designers (after a grueling day of interviews with the top 10), to show their collections at the semi-final runway show at David Morris Fine Cars, an Edmonton Mercedes-Benz dealership.
On behalf of FASHION, I joined out-of-towner judges Christina Neault, executive producer of IMG Fashion and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York and Miami; Robin Kay, FDCC president and Toronto Fashion Week pioneer; and Michael Minielly, Mercedes-Benz public relations supervisor, on a panel with long-time Edmonton designer Stanley Carroll, stylist and shop owner Carla Buchberger of Who Cares Wear, owner Louise Dirks of Gravitypope and Jared Tabler, fashion editor-at-large of Edmonton’s city magazine, Avenue.
Together, we formed one big, collective fashion brain—for the runway, the buyer, the consumer and the media—to discuss designs from Calgary’s Lauren Bagliore and Rebecca King, Eliza Faulkner of Vancouver Island and Edmonton’s Malorie Urbanovitch and Nicole Campre.
Ultimately, a forward-thinking Urbanovitch seized the panel (and the large, well-dressed audience), on the runway with her unusual and quirky pairings of sea greens, leather bomber jackets and pocketed pencil skirts, and one particular pair of pants that the model looked like she had been born in.
Urbanovitch will show her Fall 2013 collection at World Mastercard Fashion Week in Toronto in the fall to compete for the title against winners from Ottawa, Quebec City and Halifax, the prize being, in addition to heavy external press, editorial coverage in FASHION and business mentorship from industry experts.
However, the participating designers who are not selected are asked to “stay on their toes”, says Kay, as the panel will revisit their runners-up list in August and select an additional four designers from across Canada to compete at the final runway show in Toronto come October.
After the success of last year’s winner Martin Lim, and several other outstanding Start Up participants, the initiative is continuing to achieve what it sought out to do and more; it was emotional and exciting (to say the least) to give these promising, invested artists a career opportunity they would have otherwise never had, and in the meantime, raise the standard of sophistication for fashion, design and runway shows in cities throughout the nation.
One baby step for Canadian fashion, one huge step for Edmonton, and as a collective, we have so much to be excited about.