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Miriam Baker wins TFI New Labels contest and $25,000 for her AliceAzur line

TORONTO - Less than a year after graduating from design school, Miriam Baker has sewn up a victory at the TFI New Labels contest, earning a $25,000 cash prize.

The 27-year-old was awarded the top honour Monday night for her AliceAzur line at the annual competition for emerging designers organized by the Toronto Fashion Incubator.

Toronto-based contemporary dress and separates brand Christopher Paunil, swimwear designer Ashley Boutcher of Nomad of the Sun and ethically conscious designer Laura Siegel rounded out the list of New Labels finalists.

TFI is a non-profit, small business centre that offers support and mentorship to budding Canadian fashion designers and entrepreneurs. The organization's concept has been adopted by cities worldwide, including New York, London, Paris, Milan, Melbourne, Auckland and Amsterdam

In addition to the $25,000 cash award from TFI supporter and philanthropist Suzanne Rogers, Baker will also receive a full-page editorial feature in Flare Magazine and a lookbook of their collection provided by partners CoverGirl and Pantene.

Baker's line feature a slickly tailored range of ladylike looks showcasing black, white and cream with vibrant pops of pink. The collection included sleek sheaths, lush coats and a long, elegant black cape adorned with a pink lining, while circle skirts in tweed, grey check an textured organiza also offered a modern twist on decidedly retro styles. Eyelets added richness and texture to ultra-feminine dresses in shorter mini styles and longer tea-length hemlines.

Baker said she drew inspiration from a friend's wedding held last summer on an estate in Hampshire, England.

"It was just the memories and the nostalgia and the colours and the flowers. It was just all so beautiful and vintage," said Baker. "But what I was really trying to do was tailored womenswear, specifically to accommodate a larger bust.

"I find that the clothes on the market right now, they're not suitable for women who are larger than a C (cup) and I really wanted to make things that would fit more women, and that's really what AliceAzur is about.

Baker pulled together her winning collection while working full-time in retail. She operated out of the labs at Ryerson University in Toronto where she graduated last June. She is hoping to use her new windfall to start production on her line and to develop a full size range, which includes creating clothes to accommodate women with larger busts.

Baker said her favourite label is Escada for their embrace of femininty and use of colour — something she wants to inject in her own line.

"I think in general people don't use enough colour," she said. "(I'd like to see)more colour, more feminine cuts, more things that really flatter curves and help women feel great about their bodies."



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