TORONTO - Sunny Fong made a colourful return to the runway at World MasterCard Fashion Week on Tuesday with his fall-winter collection for VAWK awash in vibrant shades.
While designers are known to comb pop culture for inspiration, the creative thread behind Fong's latest line unspools from an unexpected source: the 2009 hit family comedy "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs."
"I love the animation," the affable designer said in a recent interview.
"The colours in the movie really said something to me, and I thought: 'What would be more fun than to do a collection that's inspired by food and have all this colour? I'm used to doing a lot of black and white down the runway."
In his efforts to evolve in his work, Fong said he tries not to reference what he's done in previous collections.
"I think every season it just gets easier and easier, just because every time we just have more fun with the themes. I think when we get too safe with the theme then it becomes sort of difficult," he said.
"That's why we chose this theme, because it's totally out of the ordinary."
Fong also draws on '60s style influences and the pop art of late American icon Roy Lichtenstein for his new range.
"We still have the same VAWK woman, but there are other silhouettes that we're playing with that is a little bit of a departure."
Fong said the running theme for his new line is the dot, encompassing everything from buttons on beautifully structured coats to the shapes of the creations themselves — not to mention a nod to the "Meatballs" movie inspiration.
The inspiration does indeed comes full circle within the Dot Du Jour line, with the spherical shapes evident in the sculptural sleeved tops and voluminous skirts featured in the collection.
Fong earned recognition and fans within and beyond fashion circles when he was crowned season 2 winner of the now-defunct TV design competition series "Project Runway Canada" back in 2009.
The designer has created collections in collaboration with eBay and dressed notable names including pop star Katy Perry and Canadian actress Elisha Cuthbert. Still, Fong isn't immune from the challenges faced by homegrown designers seeking to keep their brands forging forward.
Last year he turned to crowdfunding, using an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for his runway show and to help launch his label's first online store.
"I took a break just because it is expensive to present every season, especially twice a year doing a collection, doing shows and everything that goes behind it," said Fong.
"The corporate sponsorship does help us designers who are trying to keep our industry alive.
"The fashion business in Canada is small. It's not necessarily the industry that it is in New York or in Paris.... People don't think of Canada as fashion. That's where we have sort of a problem.
"But there is an industry. There's a lot of young blood and great talent out there that's trying to make it and make fashion an industry in Canada."
Fong still has aspirations to set up online sales, which he said is probably "the easiest next step."
"I think the Internet is the next storefront for everyone. You get to control how you show your line and communicate it with everyone."
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