fashion magazine
Télio Competition - Canada's Breakthrough Designer
By Rebecca Selvig

The fresh air, bright snow and crisp glaciers that stretch deep beneath the surface of the blue expanse of ocean of the great Canadian north were all a part of the inspiration, theme and muse for the creations of this year's TÉLIO competition - 'Canada's Breakthrough Designers 2011'. Finalists designs were featured at Montreal Fashion Week. TÉLIO, one of North America's leading import, export and distribution companies with textiles that are at the cutting edge of fashion, has hosted the unique design competition since 2006. It is now presented nationally, allowing all fashion design students across Canada the opportunity to share their talent and have the chance to win one of five academic scholarships totalling $10,000.

Fabrics are a main focus for the competition. Printed silk, faux fur, leather and suede, flashy sequins, wool suiting, soft jersey and interesting innovative textiles, such as silver metallic Tyvek, were among the selection this year. The colours were meant to invoke both the chill of the north, the warmth in the northern lights and the vast wildlife. A variety of earth tones such as tan and ivory, deep to baby blues and metallic's were found in the ensembles.

The TÉLIO competition was created for the purpose of supporting and preparing young, up-and-coming Canadian fashion designers. The 25 selected finalists had their creations judged on creativity, technical quality and use of theme by a panel of acclaimed industry professionals, including editor-in-chief of Elle, Noreen Flanagan, and Vancouver's own Jason Matlo. Their designs were also presented on the runway at Montreal's F/W 2011 Fashion Week in February in the presence of industry professionals, media and fashion enthusiasts. Though only five walked away with tuition aid and bragging rights - two from British Columbia - all of the contestants were able to take away memories of an incredible experience.

Earl Luigi Oliva Mabaquiao (Kwantlen) - First place winner
Born in Cebu, Philippines, Earl Luigi Oliva Mabaquiao moved to British Columbia when he was just twelve years old. He showed a great interest in design at a young age, and often incorporated design into projects at school. Being very interested in design and innovation, he started attending Kwantlen the fall of 2008 in the fashion design and technology program. Three and a half years later, Mabaquiao now works as an intern for International Fashions - which carries two lines, Kersh and Press - where he assists with designing. His internship has offered him in-depth knowledge about the fashion industry, taught him an overall understanding of the fashion business and how to apply his creativity and technical skills. Showcasing his designs at Montreal Fashion Week was an unexpected reality for the young designer, and being featured alongside many other talented students from across Canada was a great honour for him. He is the first to win first place as Canada's Next Breakthrough Designer for British Columbia. He considers it a great blessing and an experience that he will definitely never forget. Mabaquiao is excited for the future after graduation, and is looking forward to being independent and gaining more experience in the fashion industry.

Sabrina Breitenmoser (University of the Fraser Valley) - Fifth place winner
University of Fraser Valley fashion design student, Sabrina Breitenmoser, won 5th place at Canada's TÉLIO Design Competition in Montreal for the most creative use of fabrics. Breitenmoser was born and raised in the small town of Agassiz, British Columbia. After high school, she lived in Switzerland for a year where she interned at Akris, a high-end womenswear design house noted for fine fabrics and modern styling. Sabrina decided to continue her love of design by enrolling in the fashion program at UFV. The school encouraged her to compete in the TÉLIO Design Competition: "TÉLIO was such an amazing experience; watching my design go down the runway at Montreal Fashion Week was surreal," Breitenmoser said. She is currently working hard to put her menswear collection together for the spring graduation fashion show, Absolute Style 2011. After graduation, Breitenmoser hopes to intern with a local designer to further develop her skills.

Aislinn Chuahiock (Art Institute of Vancouver)
Originally from the Philippines, Aislinn Chuahiock moved to Vancouver a little over a year and a half ago with her family. Chuahiock graduated with a bachelor's degree in marketing management in 2005, and worked for a telco company as a sales analyst and project manager where she focused on building retail stores. Chuahiock did this for about three years prior to moving to Vancouver. A career in fashion was always something that she dreamt of doing, but it was an aspiration that she couldn't realize until she came to Vancouver. "I have to admit, I didn't know what I had gotten myself into when I submitted my entry," Chuahiock said of her experience with the TÉLIO competition. "At the time, it was just about flexing my creative muscles with designing and presenting, I never really thought I'd get in." When Chuahiock got accepted, it was a huge shock, and reassured her that she was doing something worthwhile and right for her. Though Chuahiock didn't place in the competition, her experience with it was very rewarding: "I have many fond memories of the entire thing ... ones that surely made me a better student and gave me a great appreciation for the industry." Chuahiock believes that the best experiences are those that you learn from, and where you meet new people. "I am having the time of my life," said Chuahiock, who is looking forward to graduation.

Erica Reed (Vancouver Community College)
Born and raised in the small northern town of Smithers, British Columbia, Erica Reed's interest in fashion began at an early age. Oftentimes, she would sketch her design ideas in the margins of her grade school papers and notes. After graduating from high school in 2007, Reed moved to Vancouver. After taking several fashion courses at VCC, she decided to enter the full time, two-year fashion arts diploma program. It was there that Reed learned about the TÉLIO competition and participated in it her second year. Being selected as a finalist was a "dream come true" for Reed. Initially, she was challenged with the idea of making her illustration come to life, but with the support of her VCC instructors, her vision was made possible: "The TÉLIO competition was a wonderful experience. It really gave me an opportunity to push myself and find my limits. It was great to meet all the other talented finalists and explore a new city. The whole experience was very inspiring." Currently, Reed is developing her womenswear graduation collection, which is inspired by the TÉLIO theme of the great Canadian north. Reed's dreams for the future include interning with a womenswear company, applying to Central Saint Martins and eventually starting her own label.

Laura Nickel (Kwantlen)
When Laura Nickel departed rainy Vancouver for the sunny shores of Southern France after high school, her love affair with fashion began. There, she took private pattern making and garment construction classes in a small atelier with the local couturiere. Returning to Canada years later, Nickel decided to pursue a degree in fashion design. While attending VCC, she snatched an internship at Betsey Johnson, and on a whim, moved to New York City. Her experience there confirmed her desire to "express love, passion, and joy through creations of her own." With every intention of gaining the industry maturity needed to run a successful apparel business, Nickel returned to Vancouver to work with Canadian fashion companies such as Christopher Bates, Gentle Fawn, Obakki and Marquis of London. Recently enrolling at Kwantlen in search of furthering her knowledge in business, she won entrance among 25 Canadian students in the TÉLIO competition: "It was a once in a lifetime experience for me. While providing us the opportunity to showcase at Montreal Fashion Week, TÉLIO gave us true VIP treatment, and made us feel so welcome as we explored the city and mingled with industry insiders." Nickel's current focus is on the launch of her capsule collection, La Fille est Belle. This piece driven collection, with an aesthetic described as "rock and romance," is for the confident, youthful-spirited woman who loves to play with her style, and is passionate about dressing.

Christina McFaddin (Art Institute of Vancouver)
Originally from Manitoba, a province that Christina McFaddin considers to be quite lacking in the fashion department, she grew up with the idea that fashion would always be more of a hobby and a passion rather than an actual career. It wasn't until she bought her first sewing machine in high school that she realized it could be much more. "Moving to Vancouver at the age of 18 was the best decision I ever made," said McFaddin. "Deciding to partake in the TÉLIO competition was the second. Never in my life have I ever been as proud as I was the moment my garment walked down the runway at Montreal Fashion Week." Many hours of hand sewing and manipulating fabric were put into the preparations for the competition, and all were completely worth it for the young designer. Drawing inspiration from her fabrics, Stetson suede and Toscana, McFaddin created a look true to her design aesthetic: feminine, whimsical, and romantic, yet warm, wearable, and quintessentially Canadian. After graduating from the Art Institute of Vancouver, she plans on moving to the U.K. for one or two years to work and intern alongside other designers. "I need to broaden my knowledge of fashion, and what better way than to get a first hand taste of European styles and trends," said McFaddin. "This is just the beginning, I've had a taste of what is possible, and now I'm never going back."

Louis Leung (Vancouver Community College)
Originally from Hong Kong, China, Louis Leung moved to Vancouver in 2002 where he continued his high school education. Fashion was always a part of his plans, so during his last year of high school, Leung registered for some fashion courses at Vancouver Community College to expand his skills and explore the industry; he didn't know much about womenswear or high fashion. His main motivation to pursue this field of study were styles inspired by through street fashion: t-shirts, jeans, windbreakers, and backpacks, though his perspective completely changed when he enrolled in the fashion program at VCC: "I discovered that womenswear was like a big platform which allowed my wild imagination to roam and express new concepts," said Leung. He went on to discuss his experience with the TÉLIO competition: "I wasn't expecting anything when entering . being chosen as one of seven at the college to submit to TÉLIO for consideration was good enough for me. I couldn't believe it when I was chosen as a finalist." For Leung, it was also a great experience in terms of learning more about garment construction: "I sewed numerous muslins and samples in the process of making the final garments." Going to Montreal, meeting other finalists, and being involved in the whole experience will be something Leung always treasures. After graduating from VCC this June, Leung plans to further his studies in fashion by acquiring a degree, and eventually, creating his own clothing label.

Kristin Yip (Kwantlen)
It was when Kristin Yip was in tenth grade that she decided she wanted to pursue a career in fashion. The Vancouver native has always been both excited and inspired by certain individuals' craftsmanship and ability to work with their hands. It was only natural that she chose a career path that allowed her to do the same. Studying at Kwantlen Polytechnic University has allowed her to discover the world of fashion design in a whole new perspective. Through Kwantlen, she now believes that, in fashion design, the possibilities are endless as long you are willing to take a risk: "I took a risk and entered the TÉLIO competition, and I gave it my all. Being a finalist was an amazing experience. As a more technical and functional driven designer, I felt this opportunity gave me insight about high fashion." Simply being a part of the runway experience included a mixture of overwhelming feelings--excitement, anxiety, and passion that she was able to share with the other finalists. "I will never forget those feelings, nor will I forget the wonderful people at Télio, the models, Montreal Fashion Week, and more, that put together this opportunity for myself and students across Canada," said Yip, who hopes that her experience with the competition will inspire other students in the future.

Crystal Luu (Art Institute of Vancouver)
Born in Calgary, but raised in the Greater Vancouver area, Crystal Luu has always been a creative, unique person; she started drawing ever since she knew how to pick up a pencil. Her love for design led her into the creative field of graphics, fashion, and illustrations. "The reason why I chose to be in fashion is because I want to be able to imagine something and then bring it to life," said Luu. While designing for her final collection, her teacher presented the TÉLIO competition to her and her friends: "I saw the theme, which was the great Canadian north, and immediately thought of polar bears, so I decided to join the competition solely on that reason." When Luu found out that she was a finalist, she was ecstatic; it made her realize she wants to work in this industry for life. After graduating from the Art Institute of Vancouver this spring, she plans to take a break and relax: "My family and I are planning to head off to Vietnam in the summer, so I'm excited for that." On return, she has made some long term goals to eventually get into the film industry or move to L.A. to work for Bebe: "I love the Bebe brand, but we all know that the future is unclear, so I guess we will see what happens next."