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Virginia Johnson’s breezy designs are featured in international fashion mags and carried by such heavy-hitting department stores as Barneys New York. Luckily, we can still find her daydreamy fashions at her charming Ossington boutique. This durable (and deep) tote is made with citrus-print canvas from the ’09 spring textile line. $175. Virginia Johnson.
All photos by Naomi Finlay
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Best known for his foppish yet manly menswear, Philip Sparks made the leap to footwear design last year. Inspired by the boys of the ’50s (jock, preps and greasers), he updates classic oxfords, loafers and brogues. More adventurous types will buy them in bright yellow. $130–$155. Town Shoes.
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Nicole Tarasick started silkscreening as a hobby (printing Ts for her boyfriend’s band) when she was a student at U of T six years ago. She’s now a graphic design student at OCAD and a Stylegarage salesperson. Her clever Canadiana-inspired silkscreened cotton-twill pillows are so popular she’s expanding her CanCon theme to include pillows printed with maple keys and Pearson airport’s YYZ code. $75–$150. Stylegarage.
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Jewellery designer Richard Booth is a Yorkville veteran: his Cumberland Street shop has been around for 27 years. Inspired by nature and his travels (Costa Rica is a favourite), Booth’s pieces are sensual and organic. These unique earrings feature 18-karat yellow gold with rutilade quartz ($3,550). The Seed of Life quartz pendant necklace ($2,400) is strung on a rose gold chain. Richard Booth.
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The mother-daughter team of Jean Eng and Kristen Ma turned a personal quest to cure their acne into a mini-empire of spas and beauty shops. Their all-natural cosmetics and skincare line wins fans for its quality ingredients (lavender is grown in the pollutant-free French mountains, for instance) and ability to improve skin ailments. And, yes, they have rid themselves of pimples. $19–$35. Pure and Simple.
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The most successful designer to be voted off Project Runway Canada, Lucian Matis was the darling of this year’s fashion week. And it’s easy to see why. His fabrics are luxe (this one’s super-fine silk), his detailing is fastidious (the draping here is flawless), and his look is delicate yet dramatic (witness light layers saturated in blood-red dye). $1,595. Magnolia.
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Industrial designer and 2007 OCAD alumna Katherine Morley has channelled an obsession with the circus into a porcelain candleholder, creamer, sugar bowl and salt-and-pepper shakers. Each figure is based on a real performer from early-20th-century freak shows. This year, she plans to add a fat lady teapot and Dionne Quintuplet pieces to the collection. $60–$68. Made.
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Matt Robinson, owner of Delphic and Klaxon Howl, has an eye for masculine styles with wit. His quirky in-house line includes this decidedly un‑PC T‑shirt silkscreened with the insignia of a WWI French air force squadron. Wearers need a keen sense of irony or a healthy dose of swagger to pull it off. $40. Klaxon Howl.
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Bev Hisey’s collection of brightly coloured blankets and cushions is popular, but it’s her hand-tufted rugs that get most of the attention. Working in her Dundas West studio, she dreams up whimsical designs like this one, called Sightlines, which might just spark a new interior design trend: optometry chic. $2,350. Hollace Cluny.
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Shop owners Murray Duncan and Jordan Tabachnik gave up jewellery and graphic design, respectively, to focus on bigger things, literally. Working with salvaged and industrial materials, the two customize modern rustic furniture like this rough-hewn (make no mistake, it only looks rough-hewn) cabinet made from barnboard and gunmetal. $3,500. Hardware.
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Patrick Turner and Andrea Pearson, the design partners behind Thout, have turned their penchant for cottage chic into a thriving design line. For adults, these signature worm-holed cedar stumps are a cheeky take on Canadiana. For kids, they’re a seat, a stepstool, a place to hide stuff, or perhaps beam supports for a fort. $110–$140. Ella and Elliot.
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Toronto native and jewellery designer Arielle De Pinto crochets vermeil and silver into delicate webs to be worn as necklaces, bracelets, masks and gloves. $230–$990. Delphic.
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For five years, designer Tania Martins and creative director Daniel Augustino—the team behind Carte Blanche and the store’s Pink Cobra label—have been making body-conscious fashions sought out by such celebs as Nelly Furtado, Yasmin Warsame and Milla Jovovich. This attention-getting silver frock is made from Japanese oiled polyester and bamboo fabric. $325. Carte Blanche.
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Multidisciplinary artists John Booth and Arounna Khounnoraj transform natural materials into modern, functional furniture (tea cozies and paintings also make an appearance in their diverse collection). This refined children’s chair is their claim to fame. Handmade out of ash wood (the same material used for baseball bats), it can endure a seriously raucous tea party. $250. Bookhou.
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Designer Evan Bare learned the ropes of industrial design at Humber College and then at a furniture frame factory. Trading mass production for small-scale creations, Bare started his own eco-conscious design firm, 608. His sophisticated wood pieces (lots of hard lines and right angles) are all sustainably built and multifunctional. This table has a removable glass top and storage for magazines and board games. $1,350. Bergo Designs.