Fashion Face-Off with Ashtiani & Caitlin Power

During this year's Toronto Fashion Incubator New Lables competition, it was really a choice between local designer Golnaz Ashtiani and Calgary-bred leather wonder woman Caitlin Power. Both collections, so strong and so different, were in line to claim either first or second place.

Ashtiani won that round, while my money (and interest) was riding on Power. I've since written about the prairie girl a few times, and I've come to admire her craftsmanship and vision, secretly making it up to myself that I'd felt she'd been robbed of the proper win. So when the two went in on a show deal together, with a history as top contenders in a national fashion competition, it was probably the most successful pairing of designer shows (both as one event, and two separate collections) since The ShOws last week. Its a smart move, and cost effective, allowing both to showcase their efforts and attracting audiences with a two-for-one deal. And neither lady disappointed. But in true fashion form, you be the judge of that based on the evidence of this fashion face-off.

Designer: Caitlin Power
Founded: 2010
The story: Power designs in structures. Using mostly leather, she crafts interesting shapes that flatter without looking funny. She's new to the city, having moved here just last month to fully pursue her dream of being a legit designer. She's going places, with a range of pieces that serve as a testament to her craft and skill, with and without leather. Her spring/summer 2012 is based on what she calls "Primal Futurism," with hints of Blade Runner, Star Trek, and Flash Gordon. It's an interesting idea, and works for a very specific girl.
The best: A boxy white leather dress
The better: A beige wool/silk cut-out dress with leather front panel
The verdict: Strong and streamlined. As usual, Power knows her strength and works with it, not against it

Designer: Golnaz Ashtiani, Line: Ashtiani
Founded: 2011
The story: Ashitani studied in the U.K. and interned for fashion houses after graduation before returning home to launch her label, starting with a fall/winter collection produced in April. For spring/summer 2012, the Toronto native was inspired by the '60s, drawing inspiration for movies like Roman Holiday. Her line is feminine, and subtle in its statement, instead focusing on elegant dressing while remaining timeless, not trendy. Her precise craftsmanship and delicate materials make the line look far beyond its years.
The best: A violet jumpsuit in silk charmeuse
The better: A pistachio one shoulder cape dress in silk
The verdict: While it's likely I'll always be a Power fan, Ms. Ashitani has changed my mind indefinitely as the one most deserving of the TFI New Labels crown