DESIGNER

Faces of FAT: Signed by Dahliah

Welcome to ‘Faces of FAT’, a captivating series that takes you behind the scenes of Fashion Art Toronto 2024. Dive into the compelling narratives and creative journeys of diverse designers, as we uncover the inspirations, challenges, and triumphs that shape their unique visions. From innovators to emerging talents, each episode unveils the fascinating stories behind the runway. Join us as we celebrate the diverse voices and untold stories of the fashion world, one designer at a time.

 

Meet Courtney Reid

Instagram: @signedbydahliah

TikTok: @signedbydahliah

Facebook: www.facebook.com/signedbydahliah

Showtime : 7:30pm, Thursday May 2nd, 2024

 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am the founder and creative director behind Signed by Dahliah. From design and pattern making, to sewing and fashion illustrations, my passion for creating has been with me since childhood. Dahliah, my grandmother, played a pivotal role in teaching me the value of craftsmanship and the dedication required to create a great garment.

During my formal training at school, I won a scholarship position for a two-month intern position at the fashion headquarters of the Italian Designer Daniela Dallavalle in Italy. It was the perfect place to see the love of designing combined with art. Since then I’ve honed my pattern drafting skills to create pieces that are wearable and at the same time reflect my inspirations for floral scenery.

I was fortunate to win a Black Designers of Canada Award honouring Black excellence and design contributions to the Canadian fashion community.

 

What inspires you?

I think I’m most inspired by my desire to learn. Specifically about the world around me, the world of fashion and also the cultures and languages I encounter whether here in Canada or during travel. Through other cultures you can see the beauty in being different which is a large part of what fashion is about. The values, aesthetics, languages, architectural details and more are all things I love to explore and they inspire me. 

In terms of fashion, there is so much to discover. There is a lot to know about fashion. Topics include early designers, couture techniques, embroidery, silhouettes, cultural dress, dyeing, fabrics, understructures and more. I am motivated and inspired to learn as much as I can. 

Other strong sources of inspiration come from my youth. I was hugely impacted by my Jamaican heritage and also my grandmother Dahliah’s garden in Canada. I have always drawn motivation for a lot of my designs from my memories of the picturesque landscape and the street art that I observed on trips to Jamaica as well as the unique and colourful plants and flowers cultivated in Dahliah’s Canadian garden.

Tell us the story behind your brand/ art.

My grandmother Dahliah is a large part of my passion for creating. The brand is named Signed by Dahliah, as if signed as a love letter from Dahliah. 

When I was growing up, Dahliah was always creating. She made cakes, clothing, painted and maintained a beautiful garden full of a vast array of flowers. She would always ask for my input when creating clothes for me and sometimes we would change aspects of the garments. From then, I began sketching clothing designs that I hoped to one day create.

Through the interactions with clothing I had as a child it was important to me for Signed by Dahliah to create slow fashion with thoughtful, made to order pieces that are created in limited amounts by smaller runs of fabrics.

Signed by Dahliah has been very fortunate thus far to have some amazing moments such as having Guest Co-host Jam Gamble wear one of our dresses on the daytime talk series the Social as well as collaborating with Nordstrom last year at the Eaton’s Centre to have a Pop up Shopping event during Black History Month. 

What’s one piece of advice you would give someone starting out in your field?

One piece of advice would be to just dive into it!  Whichever ways you can get started whether collaborating with other designers, or working behind the scenes to learn from another designer are always great ways to begin. Create large goals and then try to attain them by starting off small and working towards the big goals that you’ve set. I find that a lot of us spend time contemplating so many aspects and wanting to start but not doing so due to fear that it will be inadequate – or procrastinating until the last moment. My advice is to start based on what works for you and then go from there. Form connections with peers and work towards something together. Lift each other up.

What do you love most about F.A.T.? 

Fashion Art Toronto has become known for its emphasis on creativity, innovation, and inclusivity. The event showcases collections that challenge societal norms, experiment with materials and techniques, and explore themes such as sustainability, gender identity, cultural heritage, and social justice.

I love that everyone dresses the way they want and that there are so many different expressions of identity in one space. It’s like a beautiful garden with a variety of flowers but all are beautiful in their own way. Everyone is happy to dress how they want without conforming or toning it down.

What does 2024 hold for you? 

So far 2024 has been an amazing year. In terms of Signed by Dahliah plans, we are extremely excited to be opening Fashion Arts Toronto. We also hope to expand into more storefronts.

 

Interested in learning more? Explore our previous Faces of FAT here

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