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The one Canadian designer to watch (who wowed us at Toronto Fashion Week) Add to ...

A few months ago, Matthew Gallagher was living in Milan and designing costumes for the video game Just Dance when the idea of debuting his eponymous collection at  Toronto World MasterCard Fashion Week was presented to him.

“I graduated from the Istituto Europeo di Design [in Milan] in June and I wasn’t sure what was next,” says the 26-year-old designer. “I knew I wanted to move somewhere English speaking, like London.”

Instead, the Nova Scotia native headed to Toronto at the urging of Dwayne Kennedy, co-founder and creative director of The Collections, a boutique designer-management company responsible for the success of the city’s most exciting up-and-coming design talent.

They had been in touch during his second year at school, and when Kennedy and his team proposed that he show in Toronto, he already had a series of sketches to base a collection on. It took him a week to make up his mind, quit his job and leave Milan.

The collection itself, an eight-piece capsule, came from a trip Gallagher and his friend took to Monaco in September. A long-time Hitchcock fan, he fell in love with the city after watching To Catch a Thief.

“Everything is beautiful, so nice and well-kept,” he says of Monaco. “You can almost smell the money. And I really wanted to do a collection based around it.”

Among the standout pieces were a series of dresses in cady, a precious thick silk. “It’s so flattering on the body, and it looks really clean. Most of the collection was cady, silk and alpaca,” says Gallagher, adding that the collection was completed in Milan before he came to Toronto earlier this month.

Flying by the seat of his pants seems to suit him, as that strategy paid off in a well-received debut. As of now, he has a return ticket to Milan for August but is looking for ways to build his business in Canada. Like Gallagher, we’ll leave that decision to chance.

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