SOIA & KYO designer Ilan Elfassy on winter fashion: 'A great, warm coat is all you need'

Each winter, Canadians face the exceptionally daunting task of bundling up while keeping stylish. But what can we wear if not puffy parkas or layers of frumpy fabric?

“A great, warm coat is all you need,” says SOIA & KYO’s creative director, Ilan Elfassy, who has been designing the brand’s remarkably chic (and oh-so-cozy) outwear for more than 10 years.

Responsible for the sleek, sophisticated winter looks that were practically unbeknownst to Canucks a decade ago, Ilan returns to World MasterCard Fashion Week this season to show off his latest collection of fashionable fall and winter staples.

You told us last season that the Spring/Summer 2014 collection was inspired by a rooftop garden. What was the inspiration for Fall/Winter 2014-15?
The beauty of contrast was the main inspiration and defining theme behind this collection. A Quiet Storm reflects the opposite forces highlighted throughout this season’s assortment.

Do you have a favourite piece from this season’s collection?
It’s so hard to choose just one, but I would say the Cloe in Oxblood, Annick in Nude and Zooey in black.

How do you balance making something practical for Canadian weather, yet also fashionable?
The creative process begins with colour, fabric selection and silhouette design. Then we incorporate key technical components such as water resistance, breathability and insulation to each piece. The foundation for any great coat is a beautiful fit and quality materials.

After 10 years in the industry, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a designer?
Every season and collection presents a different set of demands. It is challenging to always be a step ahead and at the same time stay true to our customer and maintain our brand identity. I feel the answer is to explore new markets and commodities.

What would you say has been your biggest success so far? Loving the work I do and the coats I create is so fulfilling. Knowing I have so many fans and seeing people on the street wearing and enjoying my hard work is the biggest success of all.

What does “effortless style” mean to you?
Feeling comfortable, natural and beautiful at the same time.

How do you want people to feel when they wear one of your pieces?
I want them to feel happy and positive! People can rely on SOIA & KYO when they need to look great and feel good without trying too hard.

You’re originally from Montreal. What do you see as the main differences between Toronto versus Montreal street style?
I used to think Montrealers were more adventurous in terms of style although presently the differences seem less apparent now. Also, I really enjoy the shopping in Toronto!

You’ve described the brand as a “family business.” What’s it like to be in business with your brothers?
We have different opinions but we all have the same global vision, so it’s great. I love my brothers.

Who is your dream celebrity client?
Diane Kruger.

Are you already thinking ahead for Spring 2015?
Although we are so busy and focused on our Fall/Winter 2014 runway presentation fashion never stops! We are already hard at work on our colour palette, fabric selection and theme for Spring/Summer 2015.