It would be an understatement to say that Caitlin Power’s personality influences her designs. She integrates the potential and strength of her surname into the many tailored blouses, dresses and suits in each collection. Looking at her Fall Winter 2012 pieces inspired by science fiction and space, Power has one main goal for the women of her target market.
“I want women to see themselves in a different light,” she says. “To own their confidence and know that they can look powerful, stunning and sharp.”
After making her debut at Toronto Fashion Week in March, Power has her pieces hung on racks cross-country. The spread of her line marks the distance of her birthplace to where she runs her business as a recent Toronto resident.
Power was born in Calgary, Alberta, a graduate of the fashion design program at Lethbridge College, just two hours south of the capital city. However, it was long before Power entered college that she began sewing by hand at eight years old, when her mother fixed a broken sewing machine so she could practice with scrap material.
Although Power has an affinity for the arts, she finds it “funny” that she grew up playing hockey while maintaining her passion for design.
“My two dreams were to be on the Olympic women’s hockey team or a fashion designer,” she says. “Once I was injured in hockey, and couldn’t play anymore, it was on to the next one.”
Power cites her brother and hockey as influences of her androgynous designs. Inspired by her athletic older sibling, she feels that the style of her clothing diminishes a power struggle between genders. Power uses leather in many of her tailored looks to give each piece a particular strength and appeal.
“It’s better than fabric,” she says of her attraction to leather’s many shades, patterns and luster.
Rather than looking to historic references for inspiration, Power uses the future as a motive for her design. She incorporates trends into classic cuts, yet focuses on gunmetal shades and “not so much on silhouette” to maintain an innovative look.
“I’ve been going into a lot of high rise buildings lately and I am inspired by the elevators and decoration of the lobbies,” Power says of futuristic new developments. “A lot of designers look to the past to design new things, but I think we should start looking to the future because we’re going to be there.”
In spite of the skyscrapers and condominiums that enrobe Toronto, Power observes the city’s many diverse neighbourhoods while riding her bike. It’s something she couldn’t do in Calgary, where cars are the most reliable way of transportation.
“Toronto is an older city with more culture, so people push limits with their style,” Power says of the contrast between areas like Kensington Market and Yorkville.
By traveling on foot, streetcar or bicycle, Power is able to analyze what her possible clientele is wearing. She has 20 to 30 pieces from her Spring Summer 2012 collection at Yorkville’s RAC Boutique, while catering to western shoppers at Calgary store, Leo.
For each collection, Power has a six-month deadline for completion. The young designer only had one for her debut.
“I went to New York Fashion Week in September and redesigned everything when I came home,” Power says of creating a fresh SS2012 collection. “I just had to do it because I wanted my first show to be amazing.”
Power’s aspiration to put power beyond her name and into her designs is derived from making one person proud: her mom.
“She has put a lot of money into this and believes in me so I can’t let her down,” she says of her supportive mother, who will be sitting front row clad in Power’s designs at the World MasterCard Fashion Week in Toronto this fall.
Fashion designers have doubts too, those that Power claims happen in times of shooting seasonal lookbooks. It’s tasting “that little bit of success” after a fashion show is done and photoshoots are complete that make it worthwhile for Power to “just keep going.”
Control is one of the main elements Power feels necessary to keeping her vision authentic. At her fashion week show, Power felt it was imperative to tackle any loose threads or ripped seams.
“What they interpret is totally different from what I want,” she says of backstage assistance. “You have to step up and know what to do if you want the final outcome to look the way you intended.”
New drawings and fabric choices will be chosen for Power’s participation in the Mercedes Benz Startup, a contest held in five Canadian cities. The grand prize is a mentorship and free runway show at Toronto’s Fall Winter 2013 World MasterCard Fashion Week.
Power has applied for the Ottawa competition to stay local, while taking her venture to a different city. But if there’s anywhere she can see herself in the near future, as a reflection of her clothing, it’s the Big Apple.
“New York!” she exclaims. “I feel I would do well, but I want to make it here and be known as a Canadian designer before branching out.”
For now, Power is pursuing her creativity in Toronto, experimenting with men’s clothing and continuing to make garments that are always “edgy, wearable and fun.”
By Ola Mazzuca