Fans of TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" are familiar with the Kleinfeld salon in New York where the popular series is set, which documents the journeys of brides on the hunt for their dream gowns.
North of the border, Hudson's Bay is preparing to launch its own Kleinfeld salon on May 1 at the retailer's Queen Street location in downtown Toronto.
Putting a definitive homegrown stamp on the new venue is the presence of Canadian design veteran Dixon, who scrapped plans at the last minute to show his fall line at Toronto's World MasterCard Fashion Week in favour of unveiling his White Label.
Dixon wasn't a complete novice when it came to bridal wear having previously crafted designs for friends and family. Still, when he was asked to take part in creating the new collection last October, he watched a marathon of "Say Yes to the Dress" and other wedding-themed shows to help get up to speed.
"Bridal is significantly different because you're dealing with dreams and aspirations of when young girls were dreaming about getting married. They have a very distinct point of view when it comes to what they want to wear for that special day," Dixon said in a backstage interview prior to the show.
However, rather than seeking to mimic the sweetheart princess gowns and other styles popularized on bridal fashion shows, Dixon sought to leave his own distinct imprint on the looks.
"What I love about doing evening wear is if (customers) stumble across it and they want to feel great in it, that makes my job so much easier. But with bridal, you're dealing with people who already have something in their head," he said.
"I sort of tapped into what my customer is, the woman who I design for, and I thought: 'If she's getting married for the first time or second or third, what would she be wearing?'
"So it is a bridal collection, but it's still (my) signature."
With bells tolling to start the presentation followed shortly after by choral music blaring from the loudspeakers, the tone was immediately set for the wedding-themed showcase.
As a nod to Dixon's mother who opted to wear a baby pink suit for her 1953 wedding to his father — who sported a matching tie — the powdery pastel hue shared centre stage with creations in traditional wedding white. Fabrics features in the line included silk organza, silk chiffon, appliqued tulle and both embroidered French lace and Chantilly lace.
There wasn't a ball gown in sight as Dixon opted for more fitted dresses — and even pants — distinguished with eye-catching embellishments and accesorized with shimmering statement jewelry by Toronto's Rita Tesolin. There was a peplum pantsuit, fishtail gown and several dresses on display including a Grecian-style one-shoulder gown.
"I just wanted to include a variety of different styles, different perspectives of my customer... the different aspects of themselves, whether they're traditional, modern, romantic," said Dixon.
"All these elements I kind of already adapt to my collection to begin with, so I was more sensitive to that... but they still have a cohesive feel to them."
In addition his launching his new line, Dixon has another major milestone looming as he prepares to celebrate his 20th anniversary in fashion later this year. But asked for how he plans to commemorate the milestone, Dixon's mind and feet remained planted firmly in the present.
"Oh, I just want to get through tonight first before we start going on to the next," he said with a laugh.
"It's an exciting time. It still feels new to me. I still feel like a new label at the (Toronto Fashion) Incubator every season, so that tells me that it still feels fresh for me."
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