Dress designer wins $10,000 for breast cancer research

François Lemieux
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Pointe Claire resident wins bathroom tissue dress-making contest

Pointe Claire designer Suhaila Niazi (right) won the nationwide Cashmere Vote Couture for the Cure bathroom tissue dress-designing contest earlier this fall. Cashmere has donated $10,000 to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation in her name and in the name of her company as a result. Photo courtesy.

Pointe Claire resident Suhaila Niazi was declared the winner of the unusual Cashmere Vote Couture for the Cure bathroom tissue contest which required designers to create a dress made entirely out of bathroom tissue in December. As a result of an online voting campaign that saw 23,000 people vote for their favourite dress, Cashmere donated $10,000 to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation in Niazi’s name and the name of her company, Al Shakour.

In the late summer, Niazi dove into a completely new experience for a month and designed a dress made out of a very unlikely fabric. The dress was presented at a highly anticipated annual event, Cashmere’s stunning vision of Fashion with Compassion which made its 2012 runway debut in Toronto on Sept. 19.

The White Cashmere Collection 2012 starred 15 top Canadian designers and their fashions and accessories, all crafted in 100 per cent pure bathroom tissue. Throughout September and October, more than 23,000 Canadians showed their support for the foundation and love for Canadian fashion by voting online for their favourite Cashmere bathroom tissue couture garment from the collection presented in September. Cashmere had agreed to donate $1 per vote up to $10,000.

When Niazi learned that she had won in December, she was ecstatic to have came out on top of what she called an ‘opportunity to be involved in a charitable cause’ especially given the fact that breast cancer is an issue that really hits home.

"I have a couple of friends and family that have been affected. My friend’s mom just went to the hospital to have her surgery done. It just hurt because it’s somebody you know. When you know someone, it’s different. The reason I took this challenge was because it was going to help research to find a cure. For me, it wasn’t a contest, it was an opportunity,” she said.

And what a challenge it was, even for a seasoned designer. Bathroom tissue being is simply not a fabric that’s easy to work with in fashion as it tears easily and requires all the sowing to be done by hand. Niazi nonetheless created a delectable layer cake of a gown complete with a pink 'fondant' bodice and tiered skirts 'frosted' with elaborate flowers and edged in beaded 'icing.'

“At the beginning it was hard because you have to learn how to work with a new material. The fabric is not normal. It required a lot of testing. If you sow it, what happens? If you don't line it, what happens? If it's hot in the house what happens? If it's cold in the house what happens? But I loved it because it gave me a challenge,” she said.

Organizations: Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

Geographic location: Pointe Claire, Toronto

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