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Local emerging designer takes first in Western Canadian Fashion Week

A local designer stole the spotlight on the Western Canadian Fashion Week runway. Cassandra Butt, owner of the Funky Butt'N in Cold Lake, took home first place in the Emerging Designer competition for her out-of-the-box dress design.
Local designer Cassandra Butt (right) and model Shelby Redmann (left). Butt took first in Western Canada Fashion Week’s emerging designer competition.
Local designer Cassandra Butt (right) and model Shelby Redmann (left). Butt took first in Western Canada Fashion Week’s emerging designer competition.

A local designer stole the spotlight on the Western Canadian Fashion Week runway.

Cassandra Butt, owner of the Funky Butt'N in Cold Lake, took home first place in the Emerging Designer competition for her out-of-the-box dress design.

“It was a dream come true. I was a complete mess on the runway; I was happy, excited, it was an absolute dream,” said Butt.

This year's WCFW was held on Sept. 18 at the ATB Financial Arts Barns in Edmonton. The WCFW Emerging Designers competition provides a platform for new designers looking to enter the fashion world. Each competitor is required to design an outfit from scratch and submit their sketch and a written explanation of their inspiration and choices to the judges. To ensure a level playing field, designers must purchase all of their fabric and trim for under $250.

“You hire a model, she walks the runway with your outfit, and then you have to go onstage with your model and explain all your inspiration to everyone in the audience,” explained Butt. “It's pretty stressful, they put you on the spot but I came out winning first so that's crazy.”

Butt burst onto the western Canadian fashion scene last March, when she took her first run at the Emerging Designer competition and came away with third.

“I've wanted to design since I was 13, it's always been a passion of mine and it's why I love what I do everyday at my shop. I've always wanted to do something on the runway and I actually had a client come to me and tell me about fashion week,” said Butt of how she first got in the competition.

Focusing more on the wearability aspect of the criteria, Butt's outfit last year included pants, a top and a jacket. After seeing that the winning design last year was something that would never be seen in a local department store Butt decided to change up her tactics for this year's competition.

“I thought I kind of need to break out of the box and try something I've never tried before. I did something that was more me rather than something that would be in any store.”

Butt added, “My inspiration behind it was partly my Scottish heritage and my love for the steam punk style mixed with a flirty dress frame from the 1940's pin-up girl style. I kind of mixed it all into one to create this gorgeous cocktail dress.”

However, it wasn't just the design that Butt thinks got her noticed.

“I think the biggest part of it was my sewing techniques,” she explained. “Growing up my mom always taught me sewing and that your seams should be so clean that you could wear your dress inside out. I make sure everything is finished, and the judges do look at that, they flip everything inside out.”

Thanks to her winning combination and attention to detail, Butt has the opportunity to go even further in the fashion world now. As the first place winner of the Emerging Designer competition she received a WCFW runway showcase to present her collection next season (at the end of March 2016) complete with models, makeup and hair artists provided by WCFW at a $2,000 value.

“To have the ability now to put my stuff on the runway is what I've always wanted to do, so now I've achieved this. The next fashion week I will have a full fashion line so I'm busy designing ten pieces for that,” said Butt.

The local designer wasn't on her own in the competition, though. Local model Shelby Redmann and hair and makeup artist Robyn McMillan accompanied Butt to the WCFW to help show-off her outfit on the runway.

For now, it's back to reality for Butt as she's back in her store. All of the publicity from being named western Canada's emerging designer has helped out the Funky Butt'N.

“An alterations seamstress is a lot like a hairstylist – you find one person that you know and trust and you stick with them. A lot of people now see that I can be a professional and do the runway stuff it's bringing a lot more people into the shop,” said Butt. “As well, I'm getting a lot more people come and ask about custom work because a lot of people didn't really know that I did that before.”

Excited to be creating her own fashion line for the next WCFW, the fashion world can expect to be seeing a lot more of Butt's designs in the years to come.

“I would love to be in New York. That's my goal now that I've achieved runway, next stop is going to be New York Fashion Week. It's going to happen and I'm going to get there.”