By  on May 18, 2014

TORONTO — For the first time in its 22-year history, Toronto’s Fashion Incubator has crowned a specialty collection geared to women with larger bust lines as the winner of its New Labels competition for emerging designers.

Miriam Baker, 27, nabbed the contest’s prize of 25,000 Canadian dollars, or $23,000, for her tailored AliceAzur line, which featured vintage-looking sheaths in black, white and cream; retro circle skirts in tweed and organza, and ladylike coats and capes enlivened by pops of pink.

The win was revealed May 5 after a runway show before 250 buyers and industry insiders. Other 2014 finalists included dress designer Christopher Paunil, eco-designer Laura Siegel and swimwear creator Ashley Boutcher of Nomad of the Sun.

“TFI took a chance on me. I’m grateful they did,” said Baker, whose win comes less than a year after graduating from the Fashion Design program at Toronto’s Ryerson University in June 2013.

Baker developed AliceAzur over the last five months while working a full-time retail job. Her inspiration came, in part, from a trip made to a friend’s wedding in 2013 on a country estate in Hampshire, England.

“The setting and bouquet colors helped me focus on my vision, which is to create clothes that flatter figures with curves,” said Baker.

“Frankly, if you’re larger than a D cup, it’s difficult to find great clothes. I see AliceAzur as a solution to that problem.”

Long interested in corset history, Baker first considered making bra-sized apparel three years ago while daydreaming on Toronto’s public transit line.

“Initially I thought it was crazy, but my friends liked the idea,” said Baker. “It just made sense to go by bust size rather than a size 4, 6, 8 and so on to get a better fit.”

Since 1992, TFI’s New Labels competition has launched the careers of Canadian designers Joeffer Caoc, David Dixon and Todd Lynn. Now Baker hopes to use her TFI win to develop a complete range of bra-sized apparel cut in sizes 4D to 12D.

“Bra-sized clothing could be as marketable as plus-size is today,” said Baker. “Women’s fashion choices shouldn’t be limited because of a bigger bust.”

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