Young designers a hit at Scarborough fashion event

By RON FANFAIR

The dazzling colours and vibrancy of her fashions emanate, no doubt, from her youthfulness and free spirit.

Aspiring designer Natisha Grineage, 14, has been perfecting her craft for the past four years, and her line of clothing, Vivid, fuses bright and vivid colours with eclectic designs.

The Rosedale Heights School of Arts student was the youngest designer showcased at last Saturday’s Fashion Phoenix event at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

“It’s great when you get an opportunity to show off your work,” she said. “It’s all about being given a platform to present your passion. I am happy to be here and to let people see what I am capable of doing.”

The confident Grineage, who was born in Toronto to Guyanese parents, is quick to point out that she designs based on her emotions.

“I think I am very unique, but then again that’s what this industry is supposed to be about, creativity and uniqueness,” she said. “I don’t have any favourite designers because I believe that every designer should have their own image of their clothing that no one else will have because it’s truly beautiful to them.”

She, however, has role models in her family who are familiar with the industry and are sources of encouragement and inspiration. Her aunt, Monique Marianchuk, is a designer who specializes in vintage and conservative clothing while her mother is a seamstress.

Marianchuk and Meranda Francis were the other designers who presented their fashions at last weekend’s event.

“I have always loved designing,” said 22-year-old Francis, who graduated from R.H. King Academy and made the transition from dressing her Barbie dolls to creating her own designs at age 13. “I did a course in Design and Business at George Brown College to enhance designing, which is one of my two passions.”

Francis also enjoys singing and is preparing for a career in R & B music.

The Always Nubian, Always Scarborough Association (ANASA), which is a community-led coalition that supports young women in Scarborough through holistic wellness and pre-employment programs, staged the show. The organization is committed to helping young women visualize their passion.

“This show was inspired by our youth advisory committee (Mercedes Sobers, Yanique Johnson, Samantha Jackson and Jamila Hamidu) who represent different areas of Scarborough,” said ANASA project director, Nadine Peazar. “They wanted something that would bring out young women and they came up with this initiative around beauty and fashion, which is something young women would definitely be interested in.

“Fashion Phoenix is a new and provocative community arts initiative that provides an alternative educational environment for aspiring young designers, models and event producers. I have witnessed the rapid growth and development of the participants in six months and what I have seen is something that’s so spectacular…The young women that support this unbreakable unit are part of a vision that is even greater than each individual goal. We have been able to strengthen ourselves, not only as individuals, but as a community.”

Some of the event’s models included Dionne Levy, Stephanie Alfaro, Ayesha Belnavis, Farrah Francis, Meghan Janushewski, Chenelle McGill, Sharifa Linton, Brooke Rampat, Alexis Sydney and Shivaun Serioux, the sister of Canada and Toronto FC soccer defender, Adrian Serioux.

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