Meet up-and-coming designer Emma Litvack

Montrealer wins prestigious TELIO competition

Litvack’s winning dress for the TELIO design competition, featuring motors to make the organza puffs move. Photo c/o Emma Litvack.

Five years ago, if you asked up-and-coming designer Emma Litvack what she wanted to do with her life, she would have said she wanted a career in international relations.

Litvack has always shot for the stars and singlemindedly gone after what she wanted, and at one time, what she wanted was to work at the United Nations. Studying public affairs and policy management at Carleton University after doing a year of CEGEP at Marianopolis, Litvack was, to put it simply, miserable.

“About four years ago I found myself dreading what I was studying in university and confused about what I wanted to do with my life,” she said. “I decided to explore my creative side—something I always had a passion for but never thought was feasible—and just kind of dove into the unknown world of design. I haven’t looked back since.”

Now, with a win at a national design competition, $20,000 in scholarships, and $33,000 in a training package from Lectra, she can say she’s made it in the design world. Last week, Litvack, who will be graduating from LaSalle College’s design program this year, took home the first place prize at the TELIO fashion design competition. Her dress, which focuses on the competition’s theme of “luxe,” playing with light and movement, features organza puff appliqués that move and sway with the aid of five motors.

To see her concept realized, Litvack worked with mechanical engineer Christian Pelletier. Roughly 200 hours of painstaking work and several bouts of technical difficulty later, a genuinely shocked Litvack collected her prize and strolled down the catwalk at the TELIO fashion show at Ogilvy’s, arm-in-arm with the model wearing her winning design.

“I decided to explore what is hidden, what we don’t normally see and what deserves attention,” she said. “I wanted to create something that was both beautiful on the outside, and containing something that we didn’t necessarily realize or feel we needed, but which was still crucial to the design. My main piece was blatantly ethereal, and the mechanical contrasting side of it was what was below the surface.”
Litvack’s garments are more than just garments—each design or collection has a carefully plotted meaning or story behind it. Her background in politics and propensity for extrospection are part of what makes her designs so fresh and creative.

“I like to think of myself a conceptual designer, meaning that I like to communicate opinions and emotions through my work, not just a general physical appeal,” she said. “In order to create depth in my work I’m usually inspired by things seemingly unrelated to fashion (political struggles, culture, sociological or mega trends, etc). I love pulling inspiration from different areas, making a statement, and showing the statement through clothing. I don’t think people realize how much the state of the world and our environment impacts the way we dress.”

With big ideas, bigger ambition, and the unyielding support of her family—not to mention her TELIO prize package ($5,000 scholarship and $33,000 worth of training from Lectra) and a $15,000 scholarship from Fondation de la Mode—Litvack hopes to pursue her education at a top design school like Parsons in New York or Saint Martin’s in London.

“I’m looking to see how far my creativity can go,” she said. If this is just the start for Litvack, I’d be willing to bet she will go very, very far indeed.

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