Canada’s emerging fashion talent shines at this year’s New Labels competition


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Left to right: David Dixon, Suzanne Rogers, Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks, Suzanne Timmins, Cameron Williamson, Susan Langdon

Images: George Pimentel

By now, you’ve surely examined each and every outfit from this year’s MET Gala. But fashionable soirees aren’t only happening south of the border. Last night, the Six’s style set gathered at One King West to celebrate homegrown talent at the Toronto Fashion Incubator’s New Labels competition. This year, four emerging designers — Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks, Karen Quirion, Defne Husrevoglu and Angelene Fenuta — vied for the big prize. 

With a cool $25,000 courtesy of Suzanne Rogers and a feature in FLARE mag up for grabs, there was plenty on the line. As the pioneering fashion incubator in Canada — around long before CAFA and the Mercedes-Benz StartUp — TFI and its exec director, Susan Langdon, are pretty legendary. No one else has fostered Canuck talent as tirelessly as her. Little names like Line Knitwear, Arthur Mendonça and the one and only Smythe have all been through the TFI doors. Joining for the evening was special guest Rose Hartman, known for her incredible photographs (think Bianca Jagger riding into Studio 54 on a white horse).


GUN CONTROL
 

Pre-show, guests swirled around the space before host Glen Baxter took the stage. After a brief intro, the fashion parade began with GUN CONTROL, the label designed by Defne Husrevoglu. This was her second time showing at the New Labels event; she competed back in 2013 with the label Seventhirtyone. Round two saw Husrevoglu showing a collection inspired by the band Toy Pony, full of black, with details like industrial zippers and injections of tulle.


Peggy Sue
 

At her show, Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks showed the fashion equivalent of farm-to-table with her label, Peggy Sue Collection Inc. The sustainable designer is entirely devoted to utilizing North American fibers and can trace back all of her garments to the land from which they came (basically, she buys raw fleeces from local farms and then whips ’em into clothes). Pretty impressive. Her show included a nifty hand-woven alpaca dress with an alpaca fur trim. Joining the crowd for the eve were the farmers that she works with, who could be heard cheering giddily after the presentation.


KQK
 

Next up, Karen Quirion — the designer behind KQK — delivered a runway presentation full of minimalist garments with a twinge of masculinity. Think lots of black tailored looks that wouldn’t look out of place on an architect.


ANGELËNE
 

Finally, Angelene Fenuta for ANGELËNE took our breath away with her collection, which saw models enrobed in precisely tailored minimalist looks done in a series of eye catching colours (blush, mustard, poppy red). Standout looks included a red bell-sleeved top paired with a matching pleated skirt and paired with a Sudbury-made metal lunchbox! The results felt effortless — though it was clear endless work was involved. There’s no wonder — Fenuta got her fashion education at Central Saint Martins, the university that has seen Stella McCartney (and others) emerge from its doors.

A panel of judges — Suzanne Rogers, Suzanne Timmins, David Dixon and FLARE’s Cameron Williamson — deliberated before choosing Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks as the winner. She gave a heart-warming acceptance speech, much to the crowd’s delight. You better believe you’ll be hearing more about Peggy Sue and her incredible sustainable garments.

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Karolyne Ellacott is senior editor at Post City Magazines. She can oft be spotted at Toronto’s most nostalgic diners wearing glittery heels and pink faux fur. Follow all of her eclectic writing interests on Twitter @kellacott and Instagram @itismekar.

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