Smirnoff International Fashion Awards 2001

On the fashion Richter scale the Smirnoff International Fashion Awards always shows up as a significant date, if for nothing else, due to the sheer size and magnitude of the event. The marriage of Smirnoff and fashion has been profitable for all involved. There are few venues in the city large enough to accommodate the Smirnoff Awards and this year’s event was held at the “Kool Haus” section of the Government nightclub in Toronto.

While never completely shedding the atmosphere of a “nightclub” the event itself went down smooth as the complimentary Smirnoff Vodka. The fashion portion of this show lasted approximately one hour with a smooth transition from the work of one designer to the next. It was obvious that all of the designers were extremely unique and individualistic. All the collections were well received by the audience. The work ranged from the potentially practical, sometimes somber garments to the opposite extreme characterized by bold colours and the construction complexities of a major feat of engineering.

Second and third runners-up, Estabiliz Pecharroman from Spain and Collette Moore (Republic of Ireland), managed to achieve that level of technical merit, harmonized seamlessly with an artistic integrity innovatively true to the vocation of their industry, with the expression of their respective designs.

We nodded in enthusiastic approval at the creations of the both the Russian and Canadian entries. Sit down leathers converting tops into skirts peaked our interest and were definitely a highlight of the event. Also, the South Aftrican and Irish designs were stylishly note worthy. Although the judges seemed not to share our particular preferences opting instead for the colourful retro-punk innovations of Francis Howie from New Zealand. Her colourful use of retro-punk/mauri imagery on Lurex knits and woven textiles, served as one of the determining factors assessed by the panel of seven, in reaching their collective decision. The panel of all Canadian judges consisted of diverse persons and professions, including: Bonnie Brooks (General Manager for Dickson Concepts), Jeanne Beker (Host and Voice of Fashion Television Channel), Todd Lynn (Fashion Designer and former winner of Simrnoff award) , George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg (Interior Designers), Lana Ogilvie (Model/Actress), Haydain Neale (Lead singer of Jacksoul). Most of the questions at the after show press conference focused on the sometimes conflicting criteria of commercial viability and artistic integrity. All the collections were noticeably lacking any significant clothing for men and it is worth noting that all the competition designers were females.

smirnoff fashion Howie managed to successfully negotiate the theme of this year’s “Urban Fusion” format by utilizing the integration of functional apparel in a co-coordinated effort to enhance “street sensibilities” with a strong commercial viability, underscoring each of her designs.

The grand-prize awarded to Howie, included a £15,000.00 cash grant, automatic acceptance at Central St. Martins, College of Art and Design, London, England, sponsorship of the students’ graduating show and Public Relations representation for one year. A prize totaling £50,000.00.

Toronto, played host to this, “The 17th Annual Smirnoff International Fashion Awards”; a huge gala performance attracting over one thousand enthusiasts in attendance, for an evening of unbridled revelry; punctuated with inspirational fashion and the sounds of J.Y.C. House D.J. David Morales.

This event is a success as a source of inspiration to new designers and an acknowledgment of the existence of a fashion community and of fashion consumers in Canada. As a springboard to success for young designers or means by which to identify future superstars, only time will tell.

Neil K. and David Manbauhar, Reporters