Right as I was finishing up my undergrad at OCAD University, I was out one night, dancing with friends. I was happy that I was close to the finish line, but wondering what was next. I truly believe that nothing is accidental. While out that night, I bumped into one of my favourite Canadian fashion designers: Sunny Fong winner of Project Runway Canada, Season 2. 

We chatted loudly over the music of the bar about design, colour and inspiration, eventually deciding that we would have a better chance of hearing each other another time when we didn’t have to compete with the DJs thumpa-thumpa. 

We eventually managed to meet up after this night, where he pitched a collaboration for his upcoming womenswear collection, aimed to walk down the runway at Toronto Fashion Week’s Spring/Summer 2013.

Closeup of 2nd piece.

The inspiration for the collection was strong female artists. Specifically Frida Kahlo and Madonna. To me, this was an amazing concept, which immediately sparked many ideas of what the pieces could look like. 

For me, I wanted to take the overarching theme from Kahlo’s art: nature. Women are nature. Nature is women. There is no separation for me. I went to Allan Gardens and took a TON of photos of the plants and flowers, hoping to get a variety of textures and bright colours. 

I brought Madonna into the mix by thinking of her famous lyrics, like ‘Open Your Heart’, ‘Dance On Air’ (Vogue) and ‘Love Wears No Disguise’ (Into The Groove). By blending themes of feminine strength, vulnerability and love, I came up with the 3 graphics that would ultimately be part of the final collection.

At the tender age of 24, I was showing my work on a national stage, in a world I never thought I could be a part of. Looking back, it feels surreal that it even is a part of my life. I am forever thankful to Sunny and how much he believed in my talent at a time when I couldn’t even see it myself.

Actress Elisha Cuthbert in VAWK SS'13

Actress Elisha Cuthbert in VAWK SS'13

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