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Toronto launched the world’s first fashion incubator in 1987, and with it the career of hundreds of shining stars, from Project Runway Canada second season winner Sunny Fong to David Dixon. The concept has since been copied in New York, Chicago and Sydney, Australia.
Susan Langdon took the helm of the Toronto Fashion Incubator in 1994, and has raised the profile and expanded the purview of the not-for-profit organization. An instructor at Toronto Film School and a guest lecturer at Ryerson University (where she got her own fashion education), Langdon spends a lot of time with young creative people who need help turning their ideas into a commercially viable enterprise. That makes her not only a master of style, but of business, too.
The head of the Toronto fashion incubator joined us to talk about where she goes to get away from it all, the one thing she packs for for every trip and more.
Where in the world have you felt happiest?
I know this sounds cliché, but there’s no place like home. I love Toronto and I love Canada; I will always be happiest here
To get away from it all, I go to:
If I feel the need to escape, my go-to is New York. It’s just an hour’s flight from Toronto and the energy there is exciting and different. There’s so much to see and do, and too many amazing restaurants and boutiques.
What’s the one thing you pack for every trip?
I always pack one facial sheet mask per day to keep my skin moisturized and looking fresh. My go-to is Youthfoil but I also like Hadaka.
What’s your essential item for making travel more comfortable?
I have a black and white cashmere Hermès shawl that I wear wrapped around my neck when in flight. It’s super chic and dresses up a look even if you’re wearing jeans and a sweater.
What’s your guilty pleasure while travelling?
When I’m travelling, I like to make the most of every minute, day and night, because I usually have the luxury of sleeping in (sleeping in for me means not waking up at 6am to get to work every day). That means a lot of late night indulgences, such as attending parties, dinners and events.
What’s your pet travel peeve?
I’m a very organized person but clearly not everyone is like me. My pet peeve are those travellers in the security queue who are not prepared. For example, people who leave it until the last moment to take off their coat, take change out of their pockets, or who have giant bottles of liquids with them, etc.
Which is your road most travelled?
I’ve been travelling a lot to London, England, recently because I’ve been taking a group of Canadian fashion designers to show at London Fashion Week for the past few seasons.
Who is your favourite travelling companion?
[Sigh.] I wish I could say it was Ryan Gosling, but usually I travel for business, which means going solo most of the time. The good news is that I have lots of friends in cities around the world and it’s wonderful to meet up with them when I’m there.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met on your travels?
I recently met an American actor and voiceover artist based in London who’s currently filming The Agent. His name is Kyle James and he’s also appeared in the latest instalment of the Jason Bourne franchise with Matt Damon. I’d never really spent time with an actor before; it’s very interesting and very different. I don’t think I could be “on” all the time, but I understand why it’s necessary
What trip-of-a lifetime lies ahead for you?
I would love to ride the Orient Express in first-class style or experience Monaco during Cannes. I love glamour, excitement and culture and either trip would be a once-in-a lifetime experience.
I lost my heart in...
What’s the place you were most nervous about visiting?
I was a bit nervous visiting Buenos Aires by myself because I’ve never had a good experience in South America. Sure enough, I was mugged by a taxi driver and my luggage was ransacked on the way there and on the way home. Ugh.
Which travel experience most changed your worldview and why?
I visited China for the first time back in 2005 and I could not get over the poverty and horrible living conditions that some families are enduring. This is the side of China that no one wants you to see. It made me realize why they’re relentlessly hustling foreigners; they’re just trying to survive.
Tell us about a time when you got lost and what you learned from it.
Oh, I am so famous for getting lost! The easiest place to get lost is Japan. There are no numbers on the buildings, I can’t read characters and the streets are laid out in a circular pattern like many old cities. What I’ve learned is that I am better at navigating a street-grid-patterned city like New York, to always learn a few key phrases in the native language and that Citymapper is my best friend.
If you could live in any other city in the world (other than your own), which one would it be and why?
I could easily see myself living in London as there are so many ex-pat Canadians, it feels like home. I also have a lot of friends and colleagues based there, and I have to admit that I like all of the pomp and pageantry that’s so prevalent. The architecture and fashion in London are amazing, too.