Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Canadian Project Runway

Meet Evan Biddell, the 24-year-old winner of Project Runway Canada, which is hosted by supermodel Iman.

I thought I would know if there was a Project Runway franchise, but apparently I am not up on my Project Runwayness. I am definitely going to search YouTube because, hey, Project Runway in Canada is still Project Runway, even if it lacks some of the awesome elements like TIM GUNN! accompanied by the snarky-funny comments from the Heidi-Nina-Michael Kors team. Maybe they just say things like "She looks like a fat Minnie Mowse, eh?" (I should talk--I'm originally from Minnesota!)

Saskatoon's Evan Biddell wins inaugural 'Project Runway Canada'

TORONTO - Self-taught Saskatoon designer Evan Biddell's raw talent "measured up" Monday night as he won the inaugural season of "Project Runway Canada."

The colourful fashionista who has no design training beat two other finalists on the Slice TV show, with host and supermodel Iman declaring "his clothes have a new language."

"There's no map that I follow," the 24-year-old, who is often referred to by just his last name, said in an interview before the finale aired.

"I haven't been taught anything, so this is the way I've figured out how to make clothes."

Biddell, who was born in Medicine Hat, Alta., but grew up in Saskatoon, started stitching clothes as a teen when he and his friends needed funky pieces to wear to raves.

He sold some of his items but never went to fashion school or designed a full collection before the series, which also has a U.S. version.

Biddell was among the more outspoken and confident of the 12 contestants, who were mentored by designer Brian Bailey.

"I'm pretty loud and obnoxious, I think," he said, adding that watching himself on the show has made him realize how much he swears.

"I would really hate to be locked up for 30 days with a guy like me. That would drive me nuts. I totally don't blame (my competitors) for getting sick of me."

Biddell and the other two finalists - Marie Genevieve Cyr of Montreal and Lucian Matis of Toronto - presented their collections at L'Oreal Fashion Week in Toronto in late October. Their runway shows were taped for the finale and helped judges Iman, Rita Silvan and Shawn Hewson choose the winner.

Biddell's designs included sleek lines and colourful fabrics, and were inspired by Saturday morning cartoons. Iman and Hewson loved it but questioned whether Biddell had a clear vision.

"Why do I need to have a main focus? Since when can't I be a schizophrenic designer?" he said after raiding his suitcase for new accessories to wear during the interview at the Alliance Atlantis building (he chose black sunglasses adorned with little skulls, a waistcoat and a purple scarf).

"I've changed eight times today in order to keep you guys guessing, like, 'Who is he really? What is he really thinking behind those shades?' I like kind of playing characters and dressing up and going out and being whoever you want."

With the win, Biddell gets $100,000 to begin his own fashion line, a professional portfolio photo shoot, a retail mentorship with Winners and a cover and feature spread in Elle Canada magazine.

He plans to use the money to buy a studio and possibly create a collection in time for next fall's Fashion Week - and inject some identity into the Canadian fashion scene.

"When I think of American fashion I have something in my head," he said.

"When I think of London, there are cuts, there are shapes you see and Paris has the embellishment and Canada, it's like, um, hoodies and jeans? Which I love ... but it needs some experimentation going on. It definitely needs some oomph."

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