Designers from across Canada applied to take part in Mercedes-Benz Start Up. The initiative was launched last year in an effort to offer a nationwide platform to discover and support emerging designers who've been in business less than five years.
Searches for leading emerging designers were staged over the course of five months in Edmonton, Halifax, Quebec City and Ottawa. In each city, homegrown talents presented business plans and collections to a panel of industry experts tasked with whittling down the pool of applicants.
The five semi-finalists are: P.E.I. sibling design duo Hilary and Louanna Murphy from Dreamboat Lucy; Edmonton-based Malorie Urbanovitch; Montrealer Duy Nguyen of DUY; Calgary-born, Toronto-based womenswear designer Caitlin Power; and Milan-trained, Toronto-based menswear designer Christopher Bates.
Rounding out the final list are newly named wild-card entrants: Calgary's Lauren Bagliore, Edmonton's Nicole Campre, and Vancouver's Patty Nayel of Pure Magnolia.
All eight contending labels are set to debut spring 2013 capsule collections at a Mercedes-Benz Start Up group runway show at Toronto's World MasterCard Fashion Week in October.
The winning recipient will receive a fully-produced solo runway show for fall 2013 collections next March in addition to editorial coverage in Fashion Magazine and mentorship support from fashion industry experts and insiders.
Start Up is produced in association with the Fashion Design Council of Canada and IMG Fashion. The non-profit FDCC recently handed over the reins of Fashion Week ownership and production to IMG Canada, which will now operate the event in collaboration with IMG Fashion, a global leader in fashion event production and management.
Jarrad Clark, global production director of IMG Fashion, said the depth of talent that applied for this year's program surpassed expectations.
"We had many qualified applicants that represented the country's budding enthusiasm for homegrown fashion," Clark said in a release issued on Tuesday. "It is truly exciting to see the future of the Canadian fashion landscape shine so brightly, with the growing pool of emerging designers sharpening their design and business skills through the incomparable mentoring that Mercedes-Benz Start Up offers."
Husband-and-wife design duo Danielle Martin and Pao Lim took home top prize among the final five in last year's inaugural contest, showcasing a succession of fluid and feminine colour-blocked creations.
Martin Lim returned to the Toronto runway in March with their fall-winter collection, which featured a nod to '60s-era style.
Semi-final locations for next year's Start Up contest will be announced in October.