By Adam Richardson, CAT Halifax
Red is a colour with many meanings – passion, anger, or love all come to mind. For 20-year old Mitchell Gilroy, red will always be the colour that helped launch his fashion design career.
Gilroy, a second year Fashion Design & Merchandising student from our Halifax campus, recently placed in the top five at TELIO Canada’s Breakthrough Designers, a part of Montreal Fashion Week. He was awarded the $2,000 Technical Quality Award for his versatile garment. “My piece is transformable”, he says. “It can be worn as a jacket, a dress, or 30 other ways.”
The theme of the event was Rouge + Red, where top design students created their red-infused visions of the colour’s many meanings. Gilroy’s garment, a transformable seine jacquard red dress constructed with metal zippers, also won the technical achievement prize.
“When I started designing the dress, I found myself struggling with the concept of red and what it means to different people,” Gilroy explains. “(The design) started off as structured and dangerous, but it evolved into something bigger than that. My goal was to show that since red was a colour with many meanings, there could be a garment with many ways to wear it.”
Gilroy’s acknowledgement came through hard work. After receiving word that his design was chosen as a finalist, he then turned to the garment construction. More than 130 hours later, he arrived at the finished product – the dress offered proof of his passion and drive for the industry. The week itself provided countless networking opportunities and immersed the Musquodoboit Valley native in a major city where fashion is taken very seriously.
As for the win itself, Gilroy described it as a dream come true – literally. He actually had a dream about winning technical achievement the night before the award was announced.
“You never know how to react when something like that happens. I had worked so hard, and you just take a deep breath and say ‘wow, it all worked out’. The trip itself was amazing, just seeing how the crowd reacted there.
“Hopefully, I’ll look back at this as the launch of my career. It was very much a pinnacle moment in pushing me further towards fashion design.”
Gilroy shared some of the credit for his achievement with the school, citing department head Michelle Kulyk as a major inspiration in his journey from high school student to breakthrough star.
“He’s come so far,” said Michelle. “From starting the program with no prior sewing experience, to 14 months later winning the technical merit award is amazing, we’re thrilled. We really focus on the technical aspect of fashion design.”
“She taught me everything I know,” Mitchell explains. “When I was tired, she’d push me to go further and pushed me forward. Sometimes, you need tough love and someone to help direct you. She’s a major influence on me, and she’s the woman who is helping to shape the rest of my career.