FLARE honours anniversaries of Canadian style

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30th 20th

10th 5th

30th: Couture Kingpin Wayne Clark

Celebrated long-term success in Canada’s fickle fashion industry is like running a marathon in stilettos. Sprinting ahead of the pack is Wayne Clark with 30 years of traffic-stopping red carpet-worthy gowns. On completion of his studies at the Alberta College of Art + Design and, later, Oakville, Ont.’s Sheridan College, the promising Calgary-born designer nabbed a Canadian Fashion Industry Scholarship from the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce and spent the next few years apprenticing and learning his craft in London, England. Returning to Toronto in 1977, Clark made a splash with a flurry of sequins, feathers and chiffon in what was to become his signature eveningwear look for spotlight-loving socialites and celebs. How would this effervescent designer like to be thought of? “As a survivor,” he says. “That, after all these years, I still have my wits about me, my collections are well received and that I added some glamour to the lives of Canadian women. Glamour is what a Wayne Clark gown is all about!”

Silk taffeta dress, Wayne Clark; Silk dress, Wayne Clark.

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20th Sophisticated Lady Lida Baday

Hamilton may be known for steel production and industrial factories, but its most stylish export is one of Canada’s most highly regarded and successful designers. Since launching her eponymous label 20 years ago, Lida Baday is now in a league of her own, selling to the cream of North American fashion boutiques and attracting devoted fans, including the country’s top fashion editors. Why do the fussiest of dressers keep returning to the beautifully made designs by the soft-spoken, petite femme? It could be the perfectly spare styling of her work-worthy jerseys, the modern Audrey Hepburn take of her elegant cocktail numbers or the luxurious fabrics of her up-to-the-minute designs, but what’s certain is that Baday’s sophisticated point of view allows her fans’ own personalities to shine. Canada’s equivalent to Calvin Klein, Baday wears the crown as Canada’s most celebrated fashion designer as one would expect: with an understated yet luxe simple manner.

(top)Polyester/silk radzimir jacket, $650, and matching dress, $650, Lida Baday. Bracelet, Carole Tanenbaum Vintage Collection; shoes, Miu Miu, Browns.

(bottom)Viscose/polyester matte jersey dress, $650, Lida Baday. Bracelets, Carole Tanenbaum Vintage Collection, Holt Renfrew Private Brand and Van der Straeten, Holt Renfrew; shoes, Miu Miu, Browns.

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10th Design Virtuoso Joeffer Caoc

Joeffer Caoc’s star began to shine during a fertile time for young design talent a decade past. Look around and few in Caoc’s class have made it to that milestone. Caoc hasn’t got there with a big ego or a copycat mentality. His winning formula? “I strive for a high level of originality while respecting the female form,” he says. Maybe so, but we also give some credit to his flawless draping, office-class suits and talent for cutting a mean pair of tailored trousers. It’s clear he picked up a few tips as a protégé of Lida Baday and some business ideas after a high-flying stint with provocative politico Belinda Stronach as his backer, but Caoc’s success is his pure love for design that’s been snapped up by clients and stores throughout North America. He proves – in true Canadian form – that nice guys really do finish first.

(top) Silk dress, $295, Joeffer Caoc. Necklace, Carole Tanenbaum Vintage Collection; shoes, Miu Miu, Browns.

(bottom)Silk dress, $495, silver silk tank top, $195, white silk tank top, $135, and viscose/polyester-blend pant, $725, all Joeffer Caoc. Bracelets, Ben-Amun, Holt Renfrew, and Holt Renfrew Private Brand.

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5th Boy Wonder Paul Hardy

Exploring thoughtful and powerful religious themes in his collections, Paul Hardy is a bold thinker whose designs are as smart as they are creative. Unlike those designers who jump on every fad wagon, Hardy works with a concise mix of luxurious materials and innovative shapes. The Calgarian’s clothes exude a maturity and originality in design – rare talents in someone so new to the game. Hardy’s ascendance in the fashion industry, since launching his collection only five years ago after a stint as a Holt Renfrew personal shopper, has been nothing short of remarkable. Widely regarded as one of the country’s best and brightest, he showed his Spring ’07 collection at the Tranoi tradeshow in Paris, jumping ahead of other hot Euro labels relegated to the waiting list. Humble and funny while ambitious and savvy, Hardy leaves us no doubt that the future of Canadian fashion is in good hands.

(top)Silk duchesse-satin dress, Paul Hardy.

(bottom)Silk/metal bamboo organza tunic, $1,495, Paul Hardy. Shoes, Miu Miu, Browns.

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