Designer Dorian Who got her moniker simply by people asking, Who Are You? Dressing in her signature maximalist style day to day, Dorian receives amazed glances and happy smiles when she is out and about. Attention that has garnered her nearly 50K Instagram followers, a tool that she expertly uses to promote both herself and her fashion brand. A brand aesthetic based on avant-garde street wear, made by hand in Toronto, with Dorian taking the slow-made, season-less, and sustainable approach to creating and evolving her line. Recently nominated for the CAFA award for emerging talent, it is highly likely that more people are about to know just who Dorian Who is.
Born in Tehran, Dorian attended La Salle College in Istanbul to study fashion, a passion that was uncovered at an early age. Coming from conservative Iran (that did not promote self expression) the designer’s mother created her clothing long before she would be creating her own. Today her signature silhouettes have roots from her childhood. Over the phone Dorian relays that her mother used to sew her clothing and they even had voluminous sleeves back then. Visit the fashion designer’s website today and you will see the large proportions are a through line of the brand complete with bold prints, dead stock textiles, and very large sleeves. As for further inspirations behind her designs today she says they are found everywhere. “I find inspiration in my everyday experiences, different people, cultures, art and so on. One can find beauty anywhere, you just need to look for it, whether it be a beautiful face on the street, a striking print on a table, or the way the sky looks, it allows my creativity to run wild.”
Dorian recently took her designs on the road. Travelling to Los Angeles, the Dorian Who brand mades its debut outside Canada at LA Fashion Week sending on trend Barbie pink looks down the runway along with the signature maximalist expressions. “It was an amazing experience, getting out and showcasing my collection somewhere outside of Toronto and getting so much feedback was simply unforgettable. We had two models who needed to cancel last minute due to Covid which led to us scrambling to find replacement models (thankfully other designers lent us their talent) to walk in my show, which had my pulse racing. However, this is the business and every bump in the road was worth the fabulous outcome.” Dorian retells. For the first time the designer added more menswear inspired pieces that are genderless and getting rave reviews. The oversized shirt and shorts co-ordinated set made in a gorgeous dead stock fabric from a local warehouse, is selling really well. “I believe there are many creatives who inspired me to start working on gender neutral pieces. I’ve always been a fan of unisex pieces and this season I decided to start with a matching set for my capsule collection. It turned out to be one of our best sellers, which was a wonderful and surprising experience for me!”
Everything is made to order with great attention to detail and customer service. Dorian has found success with private shopping events that allows her to speak to her customers directly and go over any sizing or fit queries. However lots can still be achieved digitally if you don’t find yourself in Toronto, she assures.
On the celebrity front the designer would love to see Harry Styles, Drake, ASAP Rocky, Zendaya, and the Queen herself Madonna in her creations. But it is her customers that she counts as the most rewarding part of the job. “When I see my customers styling my pieces, each individual has their own unique flair; witnessing self expression will never fade in the way it excites me”. And when asked who she looks up to in a very challenging industry that can be so unforgiving it is both a veteran and a relative newcomer. “Karl Lagerfeld and Amiri are designers I admire most. Karl has been my role model for years and recently Amiri has sparked inspiration. I like people who hustle. They both inspire me to not give up on this tough journey.
The Dorian Who journey includes educating her community on the importance of embracing
Slow-made and locally produced fashion. Though it is picking up steam this ethos can still be a hard sell with the dominating power of fast fashion. “Fashion is a leading cause of carbon emissions, the industry’s contribution to the climate crisis is not to be dismissed. Being a lover of fashion, it is an ongoing battle on how to enjoy creativity and this wonderful industry, while being cautious of the short and long-term impacts on the environment. My brand ethos is to provide my clients with season-less, timeless, genderless pieces. Each piece is designed to shift from season to season, year to year, looking and feeling fabulous, while being confident that myself and my team are taking all the steps possible to be a sustainable fashion brand. By supporting our small, Canadian business, you are allowing us to continue on this journey. Every purchase and every action to better our world counts.” —Lauren Walker-Lee