“Get a good therapist,” quipped Joeffer Caoc when asked for advice for aspiring designers. He should have added find friends with great houses! On November 9, Dr. James Stewart opened the doors to “Integral House” (a reference to its curved walls), his $24 million home in Rosedale, a leafy enclave of Toronto, to showcase a night of fashion. I’ve walked by the site of this architectural marvel of curving wood and frosted glass for years wondering what it looked like inside. The home took six years to build said Stewart, the noted musician, professor and author of university-level calculus textbooks.
Stewart shared his concert space, a three-level-high hall, (imagine a West Coast inspired art gallery) with fashion lovers who came to see capsule collections from Toronto designers Lucian Matis, David Dixon and Joeffer Caoc. The crowd gathered to raise funds for the upcoming New Labels show in April 2011 that will highlight up-and-coming new designers working from the TFI. (FLARE was recently announced as the media sponsor.) The three Incubator graduates – I remember Dixon and Caoc’s first appearances in the TFI’s New Labels show during Toronto Fashion Week about 15 years ago – showed a handful of outfits and then spoke about their inspirations and challenges over the years. Matis, a Project Runway alumni, spoke about starting his business at the age of 12 and his plans for showing in New York next season. Dixon talked about his excitement after his first critically-acclaimed New Labels show and waiting for the buyers calls that never came. Caoc joked about needing a therapist to get through fashion but backed that up by saying it’s a business that demands passion and relentless effort.
All three successful designers sell their collections at specialty boutiques in Canada – Dixon and Matis also sell through The Shopping Channel. I’m looking forward to meeting the next generation of New Labels designers at the show in April. Check out the Toronto Fashion Incubator’s web site www.fashionincubator.com for details.