Looking back on 2018, and the various projects and programs I am involved in that help support and promote the Canadian fashion industry, I can’t help but feel it has been a wonderful year.
This past April, the CAFAs (Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards)—which honour outstanding achievement across the industry—celebrated their fifth ceremony, and I was very proud to introduce a new award, the Suzanne Rogers Designer Grant for International Development. It is presented to a Canadian fashion designer or brand that has been active in the industry for five to 10 years; has demonstrated significant impact, growth, and maturity; and is poised to expand beyond our borders. The wellspring of talented Canadian designers is so rich and so deserving of wider recognition, and I was eager to support their global development. With top-tier assistance on the judging panel, including two of our country’s most esteemed artistes—Wayne Clark and Erdem Moralioglu—we awarded the inaugural $20,000 award to Greta Constantine.
As exciting was the announcement of the new fellows of the Suzanne Rogers Fashion Institute at Ryerson University, Canada’s first fellow-ship program in fashion and design, now in its second year: Matin Mithras, Olivia Rubens, and Jonah Solomon. These dynamic individuals follow in the footsteps of our 2017 fellows, who are busily honing their skills as they continue their education in London. Alexandra Armata is attending Central Saint Martins, enrolled in its superb MA Fashion program, where she received the Isabella Blow Foundation Scholarship. Stephanie Moscall-Varey recently joined Rubens in the equally remarkable MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear program at the London College of Fashion. Jonah and Matin continue their studies at Ryerson, in their third and fourth years respectively. Jonah is also participating in a one-semester student exchange program in the U.K. at London’s Kingston University.
Stephanie’s year got off to a superb start when, in March, she was the first fellow selected to participate in Toronto Women’s Fashion Week. Fascinated by shape and construction, she finds inspiration in the natural world around her. The Fall/Winter 2018/2019 collection for her Moskal label, entitled Rita, combined earthy copper tones and neutral shades with bright pops of yellow and teal, drawing rave reviews.
Come September, Stephanie was one of more than a dozen Canadian designers who participated in London Fashion Week, previewing their Spring/Summer 2019 collections at Canada House in Trafalgar Square for a who’s who of international fashion journalists, stylists, and buyers. A pre-Week presentation—co-hosted by the High Commission of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Toronto Fashion Incubator, and SRFI—showcased the best in new Canadian design talent, focusing on womenswear. I enjoyed a magical evening alongside Sarah Fountain Smith, Deputy High Commissioner to the UK and Northern Ireland, thrilled to witness exceptional Canadian talent forge ahead, so masterfully substantiating our nation as a vital hub of creativity and innovation.
The new year is now just around the corner, and I am keenly anticipating more outstanding craftsmanship from established and emerging designers, all skillfully adding to the lustre of Canadian fashion and its presence on world stages.