Toronto Fashion Incubator

Designers battle for fame, dollars at TFI New Labels

The Toronto Fashion Incubator held its annual battle royale for sartorial supremacy this week, pitting three designers against one another for $10,000 and a FLARE spread in their New Labels competition. Golnaz Ashtiani of Ashtiani took home the prize, and, unlike last year's closer title bout between Anastasia Lomonova and House of Groves, she was the clear winner.

Taking her inspiration from Tamara de Lempicka prints, she showed a super-cohesive collection of wool dresses and separates in a refreshingly light palette of cream, camel, rose, and brown. The silhouettes were intriguing, too, whether it was a puffed out dress-sleeve, a multicoloured tulip hem, a high-waisted wide-leg trouser, or a popped collar paired with a twist-y pocket on a coat.

The only pieces that didn't work were when Ashtiani piled on a little too much fabric (no girl wants that added bulk), but a little risk is better than no risk at all. I'd love to see her next collection, and find out whether she can make good on the promise shown during this event.

Caitlin Power--in my mind, the runner-up--was the only designer I'd heard of going in; she showed a collection that was very on-trend for fall, complete with lots of leather (mini-dresses, full skirts, open-backed cocktail dresses, shoulder detailing, bustiers) and an elegant palette of olive, black, and white. (My only quibble was a floral fabric, which felt
a little soccer-mom to me.)

The final contestant, Narces, had more quibbles than quality. There was only a single stand-out piece from designer Nikki Wirthensohn--a black wool coat with leather trim--that didn't look like things fished out of the half-off bin at Sirens. Good eveningwear requires plenty of skill and gorgeous fabric, and neither was evident in the ill-fitting gold sequin and brocade gowns, or the reams and reams of cheap-looking shiny black lace that slithered down the runway.

I'd love the competition to add another few contestants next year and take it back to how many they had duking it out in 2010. These designers are our future, after all, and we want a taste.

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Photos by Dennis Marciniak.


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