It’s pretty hard to get thousands of fashionistas into a tent full of celebrities, runway shows, fashion buyers and industry magnates offering complimentary wine and manicures but that was the scene under the big MasterCard fashion tent at historic King West and John Streets outside Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto during Day 3 of World MasterCard Fashion Week.
Admittedly, there’s no pretending I am a fashion follower but I have been following an upstart Canadian brand called Whitney Linen since it’s inception just a over a year ago. I’ve known the designer for several years and helped create the logo, website and garment label designs. Being an insider has its privileges, so I was invited by Whitney to attend the event (and after party:) and I had the chance to witness the debut launch of her fabulous new Collection. The 2013 women’s line features statement pieces made of fine flax linen. They say a picture is worth a thousand words – but only one word keeps coming to mind… STUNNING!
“Electric”, “Amazing”, and “Fabulous” were some of the other words I kept over-hearing being used to describe the roughly 30 minute runway show that blew the roof off Day 3 at the Toronto event. Keeping this in context, her show was sandwiched in between the likes of Lucian Matis, KORHANI Home, Mackage and Joe Fresh.
The Whitney Linen couture collection takes a fashion-forward approach to the ancient textile, tailoring bold shapes for both day and evening wear. “Linen is such a versatile, eco-friendly fabric, but too often designers focus on drab basics, favouring boxy or shapeless silhouettes. For our couture collection, we wanted to create something unexpected. We focused on creating structure through pleats and hand-sewn freshwater pearl detailing,” says Westwood.
Here’s a Future Celebrity Trivia Fact You’ll Want to Know: Whitney Westwood is the daughter of publishing mogul Bruce Westwood, agent to noteworthy literary icon Margaret Atwood, amongst others. She started her Fashion career nearly two decades ago as a top model traveling on the runway circuit, and her refined knowledge of fashion and the business clearly shined during her debut show this week. Whitney has also worked over the years behind the scenes with the likes of Gucci, Hermès and Valentino.
“My love of a timeless aesthetic started when I was just a child. My parents brought Hermès to Toronto and I grew up surrounded by the elegant colours and patterns of the silk scarves and leather bags,” Whitney says.
Designer Franciska Veress, the second half of the collection’s dynamic duo, has more than eight years of experience in the fashion industry. She shares Whitney’s love of natural fabrics, and has a vision to bring linen into the twenty-first century. “Linen is really the perfect fabric to work with – it’s eco-friendly, and made without the use of petrochemicals. Linen also just looks better the more it’s worn,” says Veress.
Flax has the historic reputation of a tough and durable fabric. Whitney Linen is forcing a re-thinking of this durable and ancient fabric into luxury fashion couture.
So why flax linen?
First of all, it’s a natural… not one petrochemical component to it, so it’s eco-friendly. Second, it is superb at keeping the body cool – it is permeable and absorbs dampness readily. The ancient Egyptians wore it in their extreme climate. Third, it is the strongest natural fibre, three times the strength of cotton. Hence its durability. Linen sheets and tablecloths have been handed down from generation to generation.
Flax fibres have been found in prehistoric caves dating to 30,000 BC. In Egypt for millennia it was used both as clothing for the wealthy and as wrapping for their mummies; the fabric was considered a symbol of light and purity. More recently, analysis of the Shroud of Turin reveals linen’s durability and timelessness.
Apparently Gwyneth Paltrow has been making noise on behalf of this exciting new Canadian brand.
See the full runway collection here: http://georgepimentel.dphoto.com/#/album/25013z (photos by fashion gun George Pimentel)
Watch the runway show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQRMglh4ozo
Get the product on the website: http://whitneylinen.com