I can’t wait to see what Canada’s next generation of top fashion designers will show at this year’s White Cashmere Runway Collection — the extraordinary annual fund (and awareness) raising event for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Sound familiar? You’ve probably heard about it or have seen the concept featured in magazines and television. One-of-a-kind designs made completely of luxurious Cashmere Bathroom Tissue. Yep! And it’s not easy. Can you imagine?
This year, the runway show will be held on September 30th at the beautiful Carlu event venue in Toronto and it’s one of the most anticipated fashion events of the season! The White Cashmere Collection will feature 15 Canadian designers who are inspired by the strength of women affected by breast cancer. Kruger Products L.P., maker of Cashmere Bathroom Tissue, is one of the Foundation’s top five national brand partners and has been a proud supporter of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation since 2005. Themed Future Forward: Designing a Future without Breast Cancer, the 2014 White Cashmere Collection will be produced by Artistic Director, Farley Chatto, to a by-invitation only audience.
The featured designers all have been nominated by past White Cashmere Collection participants. The designer line up for this year includes Hillary MacMillan, Sarah Nicol, Evan Clayton, Lise Godel, Eugene Paunil, Franciska Veress,Martin Lim, Alejandro Mendoza, Alan Ta, Duc C Nguyen, Elyse Desinor, Ken Chow, Pedram Karimi, Myles Sexton and Sarah Stevenson.
Creative Director and designer Suhalia Niazi, under the label Al Shakour, had the daunting task of nominating an up-and-coming designer to be featured in this year’s show. It’s a recognition that offers an emerging designer a way to not only showcase their craft but a unique way to show how much they can truly give to a cause that is so important. Niazi has been involved since 2012 as the first Quebec designer to participate. “I’m also proud to say I made a difference by raising enough votes on my previous designs to win resulting in a $10,000 donating to a much needed cause. Our company was created, and based, on always giving back so this was a great step in the right direction. We support the community and the charity every year. I do believe that one can make a difference.”
So, how did she decide on who to nominate? “I was looking for a designer that had passion,” said Niazi. “A designer with an enduring personality..a humble essence. I interviewed many designers who thought they were the next Christian Dior, really. I was also looking for a designer who would be able to step out of their comfort zone, like I did, to construct a bathroom tissue dress is not easy at all. You need patience, determination, and commitment.”
Niazi was introduced by a friend to Montreal designer, Alan Ta. While she got to know him, she knew he was the right person to take on the White Cashmere runway. He had also caught my attention at the recent Men’s Fashion Week in Toronto with his beautiful work and having met Suhaila at a previous show, we’ve kept in contact and have the same admiration for those with passion in their souls. I can already sense that she’s selected someone truly unique. From our conversations, I had decided to focus on Alan Ta for this story and had the opportunity to chat with him about his designs and what we should expect at this year’s show.
Congratulations! You’ve recently launched your Just Ta design Collection for Women and you’ve just shown your work at Men’s Fashion Week in August. Tell us about your design style?
First of all thank you for your interest in my work. I specialize in designing cocktail dresses and evening gowns, but I just challenged myself by creating a collection for men which showcased at Toronto Men’s Fashion Week in August. When I create my designs, there are 3 words that I always have in my mind: simplicity, elegant and classy.
How long have you been designing for and what are your dreams and goals?
I have loved everything related to fashion since I was very young. I started doing made-to-measure in my second year studying at College Lasalle (2012). I dream of, one day, Just Ta Designs will become a fashion house. We will do everything revolved around fashion: haute couture, fashion photography, fashion magazines, modelling agencies, etc… We hope to be able to help young talent and emerging artists.
You’ve recently been nominated by Canadian designer Suhaila Niazi to participate in this year’sWhite Cashmere Collection, the couture runway show in support research and awareness of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. What was the first thing that came to your mind when you were told of this?
When I was told I was nominated, I just wanted to make a long distance phone call to my mother in Vietnam to share the happy news!
You needed to create the outfit for the runway using Cashmere bathroom tissue …can you tell us your process?
When I first saw the bathroom tissue, I was like “Oh my God!” The tissue is super thin and fragile. I had to do many tests to figure out how to create a bathroom tissue that won’t rip. I ended up fusing a few layers together.
What is your inspiration for your design?
When I designed the dress for White Cashmere Collection 2014, I think of a beautiful and peaceful life. One with love, joy and happiness, no more cancer, no more war.
What challenges are you facing with designing for this particular show. Any particular criteria you need to stick with?
The biggest challenge was time. I had to manage my time between a full time job, a collection in the making, and some other side projects I had.
You live in Montreal…what are your favourite things to do (where to eat, wind down, party) when you have time?
Montreal is a beautiful multicultural city. I love enjoying dinner and chilling on a terrace with friends.
We’re looking forward to seeing you in Toronto. What do you hope to do when you’re here?
I’m very excited to meet the other amazingly talented designers and the admirable people from the organization.
Do you have a favourite quote that you live by?
I always have this in my mind: “The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.” – Audrey Hepburn
So, how you can do your part?
The limited edition Pink Embossed Cashmere Bathroom Tissue will be on store shelves throughout October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Twenty-five cents from the sale of every package will go direction to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Also remember to vote for your favourite design online!
Be sure to follow me on twitter and instagram @theculturepearl on September 30th as I’ll be reporting directly from the runway!