Montreal designer Melissa Nepton capped off her 32nd birthday in grand fashion by winning $25,000, a magazine spread, and the chance to put her stylish stamp on a line for Target.
Nepton was crowned winner of the Target Emerging Designer Award during the closing night show of Montreal Fashion Week on Thursday. The award is also linked to the Designers Fund, a joint initiative of Sensation Mode, the firm which organizes Montreal Fashion Week, and the Montreal Fashion Foundation.
Nepton was among a select group of up-and-coming Quebec designers competing for a chance to design a collection for Target stores opening in the province.
Anastasia Lomonova, by THOMAS designer Natasha Thomas, Nargisse Ennasri Akyuz of Nisse, and the label UNTTLD helmed by Simon Belanger and Jose Manuel St-Jacques were also in the running for the grand prize.
Award entrants were asked to provide a sample portfolio of three designs for men, women or both capturing the essence of a proposed fall-winter collection for Target. A panel of judges scored based on visual appearance, style, communication and marketability.
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Nepton's pieces included a striped jersey dress, silk chiffon blouse and wool coat.
"For Target, I tried to be a bit more hip and young," she said in a phone interview on Friday.
"I worked a lot with the '60s vintage trends, and the black and white is for me, for next season, 2014, a good colour combo. I tried to be strong on that."
Nepton will create an apparel collection to be sold at Target's Quebec stores in 2014. The U.S. discount giant is set to open 25 stores across the province beginning this fall.
Nepton will also be featured in Elle Quebec magazine. And she received a $25,000 grant, which she said she'll use for marketing for the runway and a lookbook.
"It's a lot of money each time for us, all the photo shoots with models; so this money is for sure for that," said Nepton, adding that she'll also set aside a portion of the grant for production.
Fresh from her victory, Nepton is due for another celebration any day now: the birth of her first child.
The designer said she recently moved to a larger office space and she'll have a small room on-site for the baby. But there won't be much time to slow down post-pregnancy.
"I'll try to (stay) one month at home with my husband and the baby, but for sure, I'll soon start on the new projects."
Another emerging Canadian designer will also have a chance to see their looks on Target store racks north of the border.
The winner of the Toronto Fashion Incubator's New Labels contest will have the opportunity to create a line for the retailer's stores nationwide. The winner will be revealed in April.
Target plans to open its first Canadian stores in March and April.