I am filing this post from “Cottage Country”, north of Toronto, very far from the centre of the fashion world. Nontheless, when I first arrived in Toronto about a week ago, I asked local fashionistas the same questions I ask everywhere in an effort to seek out local stories which are still relevant to the international readership of the Business of Fashion. There's always an interesting story to tell. Who should I try to meet, where should I go to see designs by the top local designers, and which fashion brands and retail chains are using innovative ways to build their businesses?
Almost without exception, these questions were met with a slight shrugging of the shoulders and a resignation that the local scene is nothing to write home about. “There’s not a lot going on,” I was told over and over again. “Canadian designers lack the confidence to push forward their own ideas, choosing instead to be ‘inspired’ by major international designers.”
I had almost resigned myself to the fact that there was nothing to write about, when I started recalling the names of supermodels, young and old, who have come from Canada. Irina Lazareanu grew up in the Montréal suburb of St-Hubert and was
launched to fame by her friend Kate Moss. Coco Rocha of Richmond, British Columbia used her Celtic dance skills spark her fashion moment. Jessica
Stam from Kincardine near Lake Huron, 2 hours from Toronto, is the namesake of Marc Jacobs' ever popular Stam bag. And of course, 90's supermodels
like Linda Evangelista of Toronto and Yasmeen Ghauri of Montréal were
amongst the first Canadian models to hit the big time.
So, maybe Canada isn’t a land that develops world-class designers, but something about the place does seem to nurture top models. Could Canada be giving traditional model hunting grounds like Brazil and Eastern Europe a run for the money?
You be the judge. Here's a look at the top 5 international models hailing from Canada.