Vv Magazine sat down with Toronto-based fashion designer David Dixon for a mini rapid-fire session…
In a city undergoing transformation as rapidly as Toronto, it’s reaffirming – and rare – to see people who started here, stayed here, and built something long-lasting. Particularly in the field of fashion, it can be tough to actually eek a living in the Big Smoke.
Born and raised in Toronto, David Dixon serves as an example to young 416 designers hoping to turn their passion into a career. Trained at Ryerson University’s acclaimed fashion program, Dixon will be celebrating 20 successful years in the industry at this upcoming World MasterCard Fashion Week. Having sold in stores across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, his creations are favourites among international and Canadian celebrities alike.
David Dixon has built a name for himself by making women’s clothing that is elegant, feminine, and current. His designs can be regularly spotted on best dressed lists featuring Toronto’s fashion elite, including long-time Dixon family friend and philanthropist, Suzanne Rogers.
A supporter of emerging talent, Dixon spends much of his time and energy mentoring the next generation of Canadian fashion at the Toronto Fashion Incubator, Ryerson University, Seneca College, and Fanshawe College in London, Ontario.
In celebration of his 20 years in the Canadian fashion industry, we sat down for 20 questions with David Dixon.
1. What’s your favourite thing about Toronto?
Well, there’s lots of stuff to do. And then there’s the people watching. I love people watching in this city.
2. What’s your go-to restaurant?
Smith on Church. While I’m a meat-and-potatoes kind of person, I like that they’re always changing their menu. I’m open; I like to try new things. I’m not a vegetarian and the only thing I’m really not big on is seafood.
3. Who’s your style icon?
My mother. She did her own thing and was able put outfits together in a way that nobody else could. She had her own personal style and could make anything look great. She was big fan of old Hollywood movies. Actresses like Bette Davis, Grace Kelly – she really looked up to them.
4. What’s the best part of working in fashion?
The constant change. Everything changes so quickly.
5. What’s your favourite neighbourhood in Toronto?
Probably the neighbourhood I live in: Leslieville. It has such a quaint, urban feel to it. It’s only minutes to downtown but it feels like there’s still a lot to discover because it changes so frequently. Bonjour Brioche is a favourite spot of mine in the area.
6. If you had unlimited money at one store, which would it be?
Oh wow, a million dollars to any one store… I’m kind of a bargain hunter (laughs)! Honestly, probably Hudson’s Bay Company.
7. What’s on your playlist right now?
I have been listening to a lot of classical recently, but I have also been loving Sam Smith. Oh yes, and Emili Sandé.
8. What do you think is going to be the biggest trend of 2015?
Definitely individuality. I don’t think people are going to be following trends as much any more. I think they’re going to be looking towards what fits them, what looks good on them, and what’s unique because fashion’s become so fast. I think they’re going to take elements of what works for them.
9. Favourite city in the world?
Copenhagen. The people, the food, the environment – everyone is happy, at least when I was there. It’s really just a beautiful place to be in.
10. What’s your spirit animal?
Oh jeez, what are spirit animals (laughs)? Wow. I’ve never been asked that before. Probably a dog, I guess. A golden retriever.
11. If you could bring only three things on an island, what would they be?
A chef, because I can’t cook. A rechargeable cell phone – solar powered. And limitless friends, if I could do that.
12. Most outrageous thing you’ve ever bought yourself?
I bought an expensive bottle of champagne for myself on a whim once. Just for me. It was a bottle of Cristal, I just wanted to taste it. I wasn’t getting it as a gift so I just went out and bought it for myself.
13. Have any guilty pleasures?
Chocolate, though I guess that’s not that uncommon. Channel surfing… though I guess that’s also not that uncommon either. Hmm… pyjama time?
14. If you could hang out with anybody in the world for an hour –living or dead– who would it be?
I would love to say my father because he passed. Yeah, definitely my dad.
15. Biggest celebrity you’ve ever dressed?
One of the kindest ones was Catherine O’Hara.
16. The trend you’re least into these days?
Anything remotely related to Kanye West or Kim Kardashian.
17. What inspires you most?
People. Family, friends, people I don’t know. How they move, how they walk, how they interact.
18. Do you have any weird hidden talents?
Umm… I’m double-jointed in a lot of places. I don’t really know if that’s a talent or a freak of nature thing. Not knowingly, I can mimic people’s accents who are talking to me without realizing it. If people are talking to me in a dialect or accent, I start mimicking them and then they think I’m making fun of them. Oh yes, and I can crochet and make a good pizza.
19. Proudest moment in your career thus far?
I know it sounds corny, but to be able to share what I’ve experienced with new designers coming up, especially with the Toronto Fashion Incubator and the colleges that I work with. It’s very satisfying for me to see where they’re coming from and guide them a little bit. That’s a real pleasure.
20. Is there any advice you’d offer young designers just breaking into the industry?
Absolutely. They have to listen – listen to their gut and to what people are saying. You can’t sit in an ivory tower, draw pretty pictures, and pass them on. You have to understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and who you’re doing it for. So listening is a huge component. Also, surround yourself with people who are authentic and truthful – people you can trust.
BONUS: What are your thoughts on the changing nature of Toronto’s fashion scene?
I’ve been in it for 20 years, and it’s updated more in the past few years than it has in two decades. The way social media influences how we perceive things has been a huge factor now. It’s become more “Now now now!” Before, when I started, you’d put on a show and six months later the clothes would be in a store and that’s when you see it. Now it’s so instant. A huge factor of what we have to do as designers is create that aspirational quality so that people will still want to come back and be involved in that storytelling that we’re all individually doing.
If you could ask David Dixon anything, what would you ask him? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.