Read on for the bios of this year's design competition finalists:
Georgia Varelas was born in Toronto in 1984 and raised in a traditional Greek home with her parents and younger brother. She started drawing and designing fashion sketches at a young age and it quickly became a regular hobby. She graduated from an arts high school in Caledon, Ontario, where she learned to express her ideas creatively and where fashion became more than just a part-time hobby. Later, pursuing a psychology degree at York University and traveling abroad in Rome, she decided to focus on a career in fashion. She withdrew from York and applied to the Academy of Design, where she is expected to graduate in 2011.
Georgia credits her inspiration and trendy style to her travels and personal life experiences. A lover of details, George incorporates different street styles from all over the world in her wardrobe and in her designs. After graduation, Georgia plans to design her own clothing line and create a brand and a name for herself in the fashion industry.
Fuy-Na Tse wanted to draw as soon as she picked up a pencil, and knew by the age of 9 that she wanted to be a fashion designer. As a young girl, she sketched nothing but beautiful women and played dress-up in her mother’s clothes, and fashion became a genuine passion. As she grew older, she felt she ought to settle on more “sensible” careers in the fields of psychiatry or chemistry, but always had fashion in mind. After a few collections produced high school received praise, she began to realize that fashion was the only career she’d love. She attended Seneca College for Fashion Arts and has been working in the apparel industry for several years. A confident designer, she’s ready to launch her full collection.
Natalia Cuervo was born in Bogota, Colombia, and always knew she wanted to be part of the fashion industry. In 2001, Natalia and her family immigrated to Canada, where she pursued an education in Fashion Design. In early 2010 she received her Bachelor of Design Ryerson University’s School of Fashion. Her debut collection, titled Corvus, was presented at Ryerson’s fashion show, Mass Exodus: In Bloom, as well as during Alternative Arts and Fashion Week in April 2010. Natalia has grown as a designer by gaining experience working for some of Toronto’s most talented designers including Dagg and Stacey, Zoran Dobric, and more recently with Philip Sparks. Her design aesthetic is always tailored, polished, feminine, and it is highly reflective of the influence of her traditional Latin American upbringing, as well as of her adoptive land, Canada.
Juliana Carlucci is a graduate of Canada’s premiere fashion school, Ryerson University. Her collections are practical, elegant and sophisticated, always striving to make women look and feel beautiful.
Her interest in fashion began at an early age. Her love of dressing up in party dresses, coupled with her creative in styling, has driven her passion for designing evening wear. Her garments have a romantic feel, with tiers, ruffles and soft draping. Juliana loves to explore new methods of tailoring and structure.
Rebecca Milward was born on Vancouver Island and now lives in Toronto. She is largely influenced by the juxtaposition between the natural and artificial world. She enjoys creating unique garments, whether it’s for a drag queen or a more quiet personality stepping out of their comfort zone. A Seneca graduate, Rebecca has participated in several local and international design competitions and is currently working at Designer Fabric while she helping out in the startup of a semi-custom line of jodhpurs.
Mark Aguilar was born in the Philippines in 1985 and came to Canada as a young child. He has had a passion for fashion and design for as long as he can remember. Completely self-taught, he is an avid experimenter. He presented a collection at the OHM fashion event in London, Ontario, and has been commissioned to make outfits for both commercial and personal clients.
Corinne Monique has been sketching and drawing since she was a little girl. She attended the University of Alberta and graduated in 2009 with a BSc. in Human Ecology with a Major in Textiles and Clothing, and a Minor in Design and Product Development. In her graduating year, she co-organized the Faculty Fashion Show in collaboration with Edmonton Fashion Week. During her studies, she traveled to Paris, France, where she completed the Paris American Academy Haute Couture Techniques Workshop. In France she trained intensively, learning the haute couture techniques of Nina Ricci, the draping methods of Madame Gres, the millinery skills of Jean-Paul Gaulthier, and the handbag and accessory craft of Anne Valerie Hash, as well as Japanese Shibori dyeing techniques. In 2009, Corinne was chosen from 116 candidates to participate as one of 25 Télio Design Competition finalists, and was featured during Montreal Fashion Week and in the press. That same year she was also awarded the Dr. Elizabeth Feniak Award for Excellence in Writing for her essay, ‘The Little Black Dress,’ currently awaiting publication. Besides freelancing, Corinne currently interns with Greta Constantine. She hopes to eventually start her own fashion label – an innovative, luxurious line for the modern woman.
Stefanie Ayoub is a 19-year-old Ryerson fashion design student desperately trying to send herself to London's Central Saint Martins for her graduate studies. Her love of illustration, incongruities, anything made of silk, fairytales, entomology, imaginary worlds, vintage costumes, old library books, and pastel drawings has fed and informed her obsession with fashion. Drawing inspiration from the beautiful and the bizarre, her goal is to become a major fashion designer in a global industry and have the freedom to create pieces to dream in.
Amber Watkins sketched and sewed her own clothing throughout university, but never considered showing them publicly. Then, two years ago, she competed in a design contest in Ottawa at the request of her friend who had organized it. Although she had no formal training and an old sewing machine, she derived such a sense of satisfaction from participating that the event made a big impact on her, although she didn’t win. She spent the ensuing year working on her designs and returned to the competition with a stronger line and clearer point of view. She ended up winning first place and was sent to New York City for Fashion Week in February 2010.
Stephanie Mahseredjian has always been surrounded by fashion and design. She grew up immersed in her family’s business, High Fashion Handbags, where she became captivated by textures, colours and seasonal trends. During her adolescent years, she interned at Domenic Serio Couture, where she obtained extensive knowledge of evening wear.
She graduated from Ryerson University’s Fashion Design program at the head of her class and interned at Joeffer Caoc. In 2007, Stephanie won the Alfred Sun Design Award and the Lancome Fashion Design Competition, which allowed her to travel to Paris to compete internationally. On her return, Stephanie took a position as Assistant Designer at Valencienne Bridal and in 2009 launched Stefani Mas, a design studio specializing in evening, cocktail and bridal gowns.