Miriam Baker wins big at TFI New Labels competition


Image: George Pimentel

In Canadian fashion, the name Suzanne Rogers is definitely one to know. As emcee Jeanne Beker exclaimed at the TFI New Labels 2014 competition this past Monday, Rogers has “put this country on the fashion map!” The bouffant blonde, who played both honorary chair and judge at the event, awards a mean $25,000 of her own funds to the winning TFI designer each year, helping to amp up excitement about the fashion scene in the city. In addition to promoting local design talent, Rogers has taken to fleshing out Toronto’s fashion topography with internationally-known designers like Zac Posen and Marchesa.

This year’s design competition celebrated four budding designers who have worked closely with Rogers and three other judges — TNT’s Arie Assaraf, Flare magazine’s Tiyana Grulovic and TFI President David Dixon — on their recent collections. Last year saw Sarah Stevenson nab the coveted prize; the year before it was Sid Neigum. This year’s competitors were Miriam Baker for AliceAzur, Christopher Paunil, Ashley Boutcher for NOMAD of the SUN and, our favourite, Laura Siegel.

A cocktail reception preceded the runway shows, and guests swilled champagne prior to settling down. Boldfaced attendees included TFI’s Susan Langdon, Nicholas Mellamphy, Jenna Bitove in on-trend lilac, Lisa Tant — who donned everybody’s favourite studded Valentinos — and Sylvia Mantella, who wore a striking Greta Constantine dress for the occasion. Beker also celebrated the red-and-white: “I love to wear Canadian designers as often as possible — I’m wearing David Dixon tonight.”

Standouts from the runway shows included NOMAD of the SUN’s red bikini with high-waisted sheer shorts; Paunil’s black column dress anchored with a slender black harness; Siegel’s black and white draped dress with an asymmetrical hem; and a demure look set off by a beautifully-tailored pastel pink topper from AliceAzur.

A brief intermission followed the catwalk time — the judges deliberated while guests watched an energetic performance from up-and-comer Vita Chambers. After about 10 minutes, the quad of judges returned and announced the winner: Miriam Baker for AliceAzur. Following a tour of the U-shaped runway, during which Baker’s in-shock grandmother ran up to congratulate her, the delighted designer thanked her friends and family for their support, noting that the competition really made her push herself.

And with that, the night came to a close. Stay tuned for more from Miriam Baker and her award-winning designs.

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