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Caitlin Agnew breaks down the designer names to know ahead of tomorrow's Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards

On April 7, the Canadian fashion industry will gather at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto for the fourth annual Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards (CAFAs). The red-carpet show will honour the contributions and achievements of style stalwarts such as Iris Apfel and The Business of Fashion founder Imran Amed, but also shine the spotlight on the country's next generation of talent with two prizes: the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent, in both fashion and accessories.

Presented to an innovative designer who is an up-and-coming voice on the Canadian fashion landscape, the winner will receive $10,000 and mentorship from industry leaders. "There is an incredible group of young talent coming out of this country and it is important that we support them early on in their career, not only once they have become established," says CAFA president Vicky Milner. "Through the incredible mentorship opportunities, this young talent receives the support and guidance they require in order to pave a successful career and take their brand to the next level."

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Ahead of the celebrations, here's a quick primer to 2017's upstart fashion nominees:

House of Nonie

Calgary-based designer Nina Kharey launched House of Nonie in 2008, taking a brief break to focus on family life before relaunching in 2014. With a new team in Vancouver, the women's-wear label features a tailored look with an Eastern influence, and the latest collection introduces a minimalist bent inspired by men's suiting. Kharey produces her pieces in Canada with Italian fabrics.


Launched in 2014, this Montreal-based label borrows its name from Egyptian-born designer Maram Aboul Enein (it's also the old Arabic word for aspiration). After moving to Paris at 17, Enein studied at Parsons before training at Zac Posen and Oscar de la Renta. With intricate embroidered details and deconstructed fur, Maram is a combination of traditional techniques and unconventional designs.

Matthew Gallagher

Counting celebrities including Lady Gaga and Elisha Cuthbert as fans, this is Matthew Gallagher's third nomination in this category. Gallagher was born and raised in Nova Scotia before moving to New York, training in Italy and finally debuting his women's-wear collection in 2013. His feminine approach to design retains a sense of power, with all pieces made in his Toronto studio.

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Designer Malorie Urbanovitch (pictured above) is no stranger to accolades, having won the Mercedes-Benz Start Up competition in 2013. This is her label's second nomination in the emerging talent category. Stocked at Simons and Gravity Pope, the Alberta-based, ethically conscious label presents elegant silhouettes in youthful colours and shapes while striving to offer stylish pieces that stand up to Canadian weather.


  • Two American designer brands are joining together for a bicoastal capsule collection. California’s Rodarte has collaborated with New York based Coach on Coach & Rodarte, a limited-edition assortment of ready-to-wear and bags. Available April 12 online, the collection interprets Coach’s archives with a Rodarte twist. For more information, visit
  • The GTA is getting a little greener this weekend with the kick off of the 11th annual Green Living Show. Running April 7-9 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, this healthy-living show highlights eco-friendly products, local food and wine and other sustainable innovations along with talks by expert speakers. For more information, visit
  • In celebration of Earth Month, skincare brand Kiehl’s has partnered with Quebec singer Charlotte Cardin on limited-edition packaging of the brand’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado. Cardin worked with Montreal-based artist Pony to create an original illustration and 100 per cent of the net proceeds will go to the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s support of sea otters. For more information, visit
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