The story behind Olivia Chow’s viral T.O. skirt and the designer who made it

When dressmaker Anu Raina first moved to Toronto in 2004, she was captivated by the intersection of Dundas Avenue and Spadina Avenue. Whereas holding her son’s hand that afternoon, for Raina, the busy streets bustling with folks of various backgrounds, the crisscross of the streetcar wires up above, and the view of the CN Tower, felt like dwelling. 

However it could be 10 years later that she would immortalize that on her Dundas Skirt in her T.O2 assortment, in 2014 throughout Toronto’s Vogue Week. 

“It’s a really fascinating intersection. It was simply magical: the town, the chaos, the folks, the subway and the tracks,” says Raina. “Torontonians have a giant coronary heart. It was my first impression and I simply wished to seize the sense of Toronto in print.” 

And it’s a skirt that has now gone viral, due to Toronto’s new mayor. On her first day in workplace and through her swearing-in ceremony, Mayor Olivia Chow was seen carrying the skirt, which artfully showcases an illustration of Dundas West’s streetscape.  


“Olivia Chow is the town’s mayor, and even by this small gesture of carrying a local-made skirt, she’s serving to artists like myself,” says Raina. “She’s serving to hold ‘made in Canada’ and ‘made in Toronto’ alive in some methods.”

In reality, due to the mayor’s current style assertion — Chow first made an look within the skirt when she ran for mayor in 2014 — Raina has made the skirt out there for pre-order on her web site for a small run. 

It’s a journey that Raina couldn’t have imagined after pursuing her profession in style. Whereas Raina acknowledges a number of her work has been impressed through the years by a e-book she’s learn, an concept in her head or a spot she’s visited, beneath her profitable and vibrant designs lies a profound journey that has additionally been formed by private triumphs and tragedies.

A graduate of the London Faculty of Vogue in England and of Sheridan Faculty the place she studied textiles, Raina has since spent numerous years collaborating with organizations together with eBay Canada, The Legislation Society of Higher Canada, Keilhauer and the Artwork Gallery of Ontario. But it surely’s her first assortment after graduating from Sheridan that she stays most happy with right this moment. 

For Raina, “Chapter 2 Web page 1” wasn’t simply her first assortment however was additionally a tribute to her childhood, the place she misplaced her dwelling in Kashmir as a result of riots and her mom to breast most cancers — and all at such a younger age. 

“There’s a print [in that collection] that was impressed by the little letters and symbols woven into cashmere shawls,” she says. Certainly one of Raina’s distinct reminiscences rising up was visiting the weavers and looms together with her mom.

“The weavers would sing songs, and every image represented a special shade. They weaved, not realizing what they had been creating, and but the result was all the time an attractive cashmere scarf,” she says.

And it’s a second she’s tried to include, each single day. Just like the weavers of her childhood, Raina follows a melody of creativity that helps push her designs each time. Whereas her “Chapter 2 Web page 1” assortment was a testomony to dropping dwelling, her T.O assortment had been a testomony to discovering it. 

“I simply observe my coronary heart and I simply attempt to create as a result of that’s what makes me blissful, retains me alive and motivated,” she says “I’m simply having fun with the journey of telling tales and I like bringing folks collectively. And that’s my hope: that I can encourage folks and assist deliver folks collectively.” 

At present, buyers should buy different And Raina originals in retailer at her Oakville location, or on-line on her web site.