David Dixon is, without a doubt, a Canadian success story.

But the Toronto-based designer, whose eponymous signature label of sophisticated women’s wear is celebrating its 15th anniversary, hasn’t let it go to his head.

For Dixon, the journey has been slow and steady. “It’s a funny career,” he says of fashion design. “It’s not one where you want to plateau. You always want to keep going and going.” And that’s exactly what he’s doing.

Aside from his classic signature label, which has expanded beyond Canada’s borders to Asia, Europe and the Middle East, there’s his collection of footwear and handbags for Town Shoes, and his Barbie by David Dixon collection.

Launched last year after Mattel approached him to create a line of Barbie-inspired women’s clothing in honour of the iconic doll’s 50th anniversary, it was intended to be a limited-edition collection, but was such a hit, it’s being continued. “They’re wearable, sort of nostalgic pieces that allow me to have a little more fun,” explains the soft-spoken designer.

Dixon’s first brush with fashion came via the TV. It was while watching The Love Boat as a nine-year-old that the Torontonian first laid eyes on the exquisite creations of Geoffrey Beene, Halston, Bob Mackie and Gloria Vanderbilt — all of whom he credits with influencing his chosen career.

“All of a sudden, this world of fashion opened up to me because it looked so glamorous,” he says. The next day, Dixon began drawing clothes. In high school, he excelled in home economics. “The cooking part, I didn’t really care for,” he quips. “But sewing came naturally to me, the passion to build clothes.”

Following fashion studies at Ryerson, Dixon apprenticed with Alfred Sung before setting up a studio in his parents’ basement and launching his first collection in 1995. “I got press, but I didn’t sell a single stitch because I didn’t understand you had to actually research your product, figure out how it’s going to be placed. I just thought you made clothes, put them on models and you’re ready to go,” he explains.

Since then, he’s developed a devoted clientele. “She’s a sophisticated women, a working professional who likes fashion with a twist and doesn’t want to feel she’s wearing a trend from head-to-toe,” says Dixon.

One aspect of his exquisitely tailored clothing that women love is his use of luxurious fabrics. “I love texture. I love mixing textures and layering,” he says. “Fabric has always been my main source of inspiration. The first thing you respond to is either colour or texture. I generally go for the textural aspect.”

As for the future, Dixon has no plans of slowing down. “I’ll keep doing this as long as every season still feels fresh,” he says. “You have to enjoy what you’re doing.”

On the runway...
David Dixon’s fall 2010 collections for both his eponymous label and his Barbie label will hit the runway at the Allstream Centre at Exhibition Place on April 1 during Toronto Fashion Week. For more information, visit www.lgfashionweek.ca.