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1664 Canada Sponsors "Signed by Dahliah" for Fashion Week

When 1664 Canada opted to sponsor a local, up-and-coming designer for Fashion Art Toronto’s 1664 Fashion Week SS24 season, they found a fortuitous fit in Signed by Dahliah. “Our values align,” says designer Courtney Reid. “I feel like we resonate well together. The balance between playfulness and elegance really connects us.” 

Slow-fashion, made-to-order label Signed by Dahliah will be opening up fashion week this season with the first show slot at 7:30pm on Thursday, May 2nd (tickets for the shows are available here, and are getting snatched up quick.) As a part of their collaboration, Reid's first three opening looks will be directly inspired by the iconic 1664 bottle designs.

Left: The unveiling of the new Rosé beer from Fashion Art Toronto's 1664 Fashion Week Opening Party.

Right: A toast at last Fall's Fashion Art Toronto, featuring the symbolic blue bottle.

Photos sourced from the 1664 Canada Instagram page.

Reid has an impressive academic background, graduating from George Brown’s Fashion Techniques and Design program (nabbing an Honours degree in English and a minor in Business while she was at it), but her love of design came from her childhood. In fact, it was the real life Dahliah, Reid’s grandmother, who initially started her on her path. 

“When I was little, I spent a lot of time with her in her sewing room,” Reid explains. “I learned the basics, as well as tailoring and the way that she sewed… all the craftsmanship of sewing.” 

“She was always very particular,” she continues. “Growing up, I would sketch designs and we would make clothes together. She would say, ‘okay, is there anything you want to change in this garment?’ From a young age, I was tweaking little things, but always through her because she would be the one making the pattern. She always shared her knowledge and made clothes for me and my cousins.” 

Dahliah’s artisanship and encouragement provided a young Reid the tools she needed to design on her own, but another major aspect of her inspiration came from her grandmother’s vast, grand and dynamic garden. She named her brand after her “not only because she is the reason behind why I have such a passion for sewing, but also because of her garden. She was on the garden tour for her city. Seeing all of those flowers every time I went over was really influential in the way that I create my designs.”

The opening look for "Ethereal Bloom", inspired by Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc and Rosé,

at the Fashion Art Toronto 1664 Fashion Week Opening Party.

Photo by Jack Hathaway.

Through her work, Reid is proud to carry on her family tradition (as Dahlia’s own mother was a seamstress), while simultaneously paying homage to her long lineage of talented women designers. Since launching Signed by Dahliah 7 years ago, Reid has been recognized with a Black Designers of Canada Award and was a finalist for the 2023 Etsy Design Awards. Her work has been featured on CTV's daytime talk show The Social, as well as having participated in many local markets. While she showed at African Fashion Week in the heart of Downtown Toronto last year (which you can watch here), this will be her biggest show to date.

For her upcoming collection with Fashion Art Toronto, “Ethereal Garden”, Reid is “nervous but excited” to show her designs at an event of this scale for the first time. She is also leaning heavily into the theme of “Bloom” - as, serendipitously, her creative ethos would have fit the criteria regardless.

“‘Bloom’ has always been a part of me and in the background of my brand,” she explains, relating back to her grandmother’s influence. “My designs aren't always this flowery, but knowing the theme, I felt comfortable going a bit further.” With this showcase, Reid is elevating her brand, experimenting with different techniques that she may not have done before. 

Reid muses further on her design style: “My garments aren’t too couture, they're very much ready-to-wear designs that I paired with lots of small details of flowers. I mean - my first look has a giant flower on it, but aside from that…” 

Her aforementioned opening look is one of three that she has created in collaboration with 1664. “While I was thinking about the looks for them and what was best for their brand, I also thought about what would go together well with my collection,” says Reid. “The makeup will be pastels, but almost like a dewy highlight. My collection's mostly pink, so you'll see a lot of that on the runway, but my collaboration pieces are a royal blue with a rosé pink.

They're a Parisian brand, so the fit of the dresses is going to be a little bit tighter. Parisian style is not too showy, it's simple but playful. As with the ‘X’ logo on the bottle - there’s a whole pattern that they have for their brand, the cocarde. You'll see it incorporated into the clothing. ”  

Reid, right, with model Julia Boncoddo. Both wear Signed by Dahliah pieces in a creamy,

Rosé-inspired blush pink, Boncoddo's being one of the first in "Ethereal Bloom".

Photo by Jack Hathaway.

Chad Abdo, the Marketing Director for the Carlsberg Group (which owns the 1664 label) calls the collaboration between Reid and their brand “a no-brainer.” 1664 has collaborated with multiple global fashion weeks - Copenhagen, London, and Ukraine to name a few. “[1664] has always championed not just fashion, but design in general,” Abdo says, adding that the partnership with a local designer began with the question, ‘how can we celebrate Canada’s diverse fashion scene?’

In their search for a strong match, members of their team were presented with a list of potentials from Vanja Vasic, Director and Founder of Fashion Art Toronto. They were immediately impressed with Signed by Dahliah - not just aesthetically, but because of her story as well. “What we found with Courtney is a twist that she adds with everything she touches,” Abdo remarks, alluding to 1664’s “Good Taste with a Twist” motto.

“She's not only coming in with a distinct style, but with a about her family story that inspired her to get to where she is. That story will inspire at least a few thousand people at Fashion Art Toronto, and millions of people outside the walls.”

Abdo adds that 1664 is “very excited” to work with Reid, and that the team has been impressed with the work ethic and dedication that she’s brought to the table. “She came in with design after design after design. The first round was more than 8 different designs. A lot of jaw drops from our side." Of the process, he says, "I would say a degree of it was strong chemistry all throughout. Her understanding of what we're looking for... she's perfect for what the brand stands for, those bold fashion twists."

Left: Reid with Vanja Vasic. Photo by Zhanna Ivaniuk.

Right: Reid models her own designs. Sourced from Instagram.

As for when Reid began the casting process for "Ethereal Bloom" with the goal of highlighting the “beauty of diversity”, and found the process of scouring Fashion Art Toronto’s roster to be intimidating - albeit thrilling. “I love that FAT has so many different models of all ethnicities and all stages of life. Having people from different backgrounds in my collection is important, like a garden,” she proclaims, drawing a connection between the people who will be wearing her clothing, and the bountiful variation of flowers her grandmother would have on display. 

Dahliah herself will unfortunately not be in attendance this season, as she has experienced a significant cognitive decline in the past few years. “I wish she could come to the show,” Reid laments. “She suffers from dementia now. When I first started my brand and was showing her what I was sewing back in 2017, it was a lot of fun because she was cognizant of everything that I was doing. She was proud because I was taking the beginnings of what she had taught me and applying it. I could tell that she really enjoyed it.” 

“She is always with me,” Reid insists with a sparkle in her eye. “Every chance I get, I'm showing her what I've done. And when she remembers, it's nice to see her reaction.” 

Tickets are selling out for Fashion Art Toronto's 1664 Fashion Week, so make sure to secure your spot for Signed by Dahliah on Thursday, May 2nd here.

We recently covered the press release for the Fashion Art Toronto x 1664 Canada title sponsorship - if you missed it, you can catch up here.


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