Friday, August 27, 2010

La Belle Epoque: Meet the Judges

We’re very pleased to announce that we’ve confirmed Roy Nicholls, Cynthia Rea, Sarah Casselman and Liz West as judges for the October show, La Belle Epoque. Having influential industry representation like this on our judging panel is an essential part of what gives our event clout and we’re so proud to give our designers the opportunity to show their stuff to people in the know. (Speaking of designers, if you are one, you’ve only got until Tuesday to apply to participate! Fill out the application form at

Read on for a brief bio of each, and mark your calendars… it’s showtime on October 2nd.

Roy Nicholls
Ambassador, Apparel Human Resources Council

Roy has over 16 years of experience in the apparel industry. For many years, he worked as the Director of Operations for one of the biggest made-to-measure houses in North America, managing high-end men’s tailored clothing for labels like Rosen, Mitchells, Nordstrom and Paul Stuart. Currently, Roy is running his own personal business, Roy Nicholls & Associates, working with apparel companies in both Canada and the U.S. to help them to improve their performance. He’s an active member of the International Association of Clothing Designers and Executives, who has visited over 100 apparel companies as an industry ambassador in the last year alone, and he acts as an advisor to many of the fashion schools across Canada.

Liz West
TV Personality

As host of the hit TV series Rags to Red Carpet, Liz West brings the glitz and glam of Hollywood into the lives of everyday women who are desperately in need of a makeover. In each half hour episode, she shines the spotlight on an unsuspecting woman in need of a makeover by showing a movie trailer of the style victim’s everyday worst. When the lights come up to expose the participants’ family and friends in the audience, Liz offers the shocked woman a fabulous head-to-toe makeover with a team of top beauty experts. Viewers can tune in as women get the chance to capture a glamorous starring role in their own life on CosmoTV, Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 8 p.m.

Sarah Casselman
Fashion Market Editor, FASHION Magazine

As Fashion Market Editor at one of Canada’s largest fashion magazine, Sarah Casselman lives and breathes fashion and trends in a way that most of us can only dream about! Think of her as our very own Anna Wintour – only nice. Sarah makes a valuable contribution to our judging panel, and we’re very grateful she could make the time to do it.

Cynthia Rea
Owner/Buyer, Black Daffodil

The brains behind one of the cutest shops in the hip Junction neighbourhood explains that she gave her store an unusual name because she feels it captures the duality of the feminine nature: "I think it encompasses both sides of a woman – softness mixed with an edgier, darker dame who doesn't take any bull from anyone. I think all women have that!"

As a supporter of local designers, Cynthia is the perfect fit for a show aimed at helping to launch the careers of Canadian designers.

Black Daffodil is located at 3097 Dundas St. W. Check it out online at

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Photos and Judges: La Belle Epoque is coming together

Lots of news on our upcoming design competition!  First, and most important: if you've been thinking of applying for the competition or trunk show, the time has come to get those applications in!

The deadline for application is Tuesday, August 31st - right around the corner!  Visit our website at to download the submission form.

Secondly, we're proud to announce that we've done a beautiful photoshoot to explore the look of this year's theme, La Belle Epoque.  Due to some uploading issues, please check them out on our Twitter and Facebook pages (for now)!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we're thrilled to announce some of this year's industry judging panels.  We are absolutely honoured to have Cynthia Rea, Sarah Casselman, Liz West and Roy Nicholls confirmed for this year's event. It's names like these that give the design competition so much clout and affirm its standing as a unique opportunity for up-and-coming designers.

Thanks to everyone who's been involved so far, and designers... don't forget to sign up!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Where Are They Now: Heidi Ackerman

Recently, we updated you on 2009 Design Competition participant, Heidi Ackerman's appearance in the Star.  We caught up with the busy designer, who's hard at work on her line and creating avant-garde costume pieces for innovative, multi-media opera experience, Opera Erratica.

AOF: How did you first hear about Art of Fashion?

Heidi: I first heard about the Art of Fashion competition through a friend of mine Irene Stickney who I believe won the year before at Art of Fashion.

AOF: How would you describe your experience with the show? What opportunities did being involved with AOF open up for you?

Heidi: Creating an exhibit for AOF was a great experience! I found it so interesting and challenging to create a space that would reflect and represent my style and also engage the viewers. I would love to create more spaces and environments in the future. Through AOF I met great industry people including Leesa Butler from the F-List. After AOF, Leesa invited me to do a Designer Spotlight for one of her events.

AOF: Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to since the design competition?

Heidi: I have been super busy since the design competition. In April I showed a new collection titled construct(this) at FAT (Fashion Art Toronto) and was also invited to present my work at a festival in Riga, Latvia called [moment]. I am currently working on a collaboration with an underground opera company called Opera Erratica - I am creating some avant-garde costumes that are more fashion than traditional costume. The opera will take place August 22-28 in a warehouse space on Lansdowne.

AOF: Do you have any advice for emerging designers in Canada? Do you think starting your design career in Canada is harder than it would be in places where the arts tend to be more valued?

Heidi: I think starting a design career is difficult anywhere. In Canada I am able to find a lot of press and opportunities for editorials but have a hard time finding my customer. I think that living or selling outside of Canada would be ideal for my type of design. My advice for emerging designers is to stay true to your style and follow your intuition.

AOF: How would you describe your style/pieces/line?

Heidi: I am definitely inspired and interested in the concept of futurism which I explore through my work. My design philosophy is to combine fashion-forward/avant-garde clothing with sustainable materials and business practices.

AOF: What do you think it takes to succeed as a designer in Canada? Is marketing crucial?

Heidi: A clear understanding of who your customer is and where you can find them. Creating an allure for your brand is also very important.

AOF: Where can shoppers buy your line?

Heidi: Currently I sell at Thieves Boutique at 1156 Queen Street West here in Toronto. Online stores are also in the works. I do private appointments in my studio; interested parties can contact me through e-mail at or

My website is currently under construction (, so my work can be viewed at

Monday, August 9, 2010

Call for Designers! Art of Fashion Needs You!

That's right, up-and-coming designers!  The Art of Fashion needs you.  To download the Designer Application, visit our Belle Epoque microsite at, or click here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

2009 Documentary: Iconic Power

It's here!  Check out the full-length documentary about our 2009 show, Iconic Power, and see what the Art of Fashion Design Competition is all about:

Art of Fashion 2009 - Iconic Power from Batchfilms on Vimeo.