Best song nominee Stephan Moccio turns to Toronto tailor Don Lee for Oscar suit

TORONTO -- When Canadian composer and pianist Stephan Moccio needed a suit for his wedding, he turned to Don Fabien Lee to outfit him for his walk down the aisle.

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Moccio will once again be wearing a custom creation from the Toronto tailor as he takes another big step: this time onto the Oscars red carpet.

The homegrown hitmaker, who grew up in Niagara Falls, Ont., has a best original song nomination for the Weeknd's "Earned It" from the "Fifty Shades of Grey" soundtrack.

Moccio shares the nod with Toronto pop sensation the Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, and fellow Canadian songwriters Ahmad Balshe (a.k.a. Belly) and Jason (DaHeala) Quenneville.

Prior to riding his recent wave of success with the Weeknd on his Grammy-winning album "Beauty Behind the Madness," Moccio made significant splashes in the music industry with songwriting credits for Celine Dion ("A New Day Has Come") and Miley Cyrus ("Wrecking Ball").

"It doesn't come as a tremendous surprise, the success that has come to Stephan," Lee said in an interview at Trend Custom Tailors, a bespoke tailoring house established in Toronto in 1972.

"He's extremely hard-working, he's talented. Of course, he's been successful before.... but the recognition internationally is now coming to him in a very immediate way very quickly. It's due."

Lee said when he starts work on crafting a suit for Moccio, he likes to draw creative influence from the artist's solo work, turning to tunes from his albums "Elements" and "Color" for inspiration.

"There are many tracks that I like of his and they all take me into his world and give me a sense of how he's feeling at the time."

Lee said Moccio is very specific about his fit, and he works towards crafting garments that are both fashionable and functional.

"He likes collars that frame his face and give a crispness and then an air of ease, but without being stuffy. So, he likes sharp collars and cuffs -- especially when he's performing -- because they're often on-camera, in focus.

"I think those are things that remain constant with everything that we do make. It's a crisp outline of the hands and the neck area, and a silhouette that alludes to the music he's playing."

The Trinidad-born Lee came to Canada in 1991, earning degrees from Western University in London, Ont., and Toronto's Ryerson University.

He worked on a seven-year apprenticeship at Trend Custom Tailors and has devoted more than 20 years to the craft.

While Lee said the number of tailors in the city has dwindled from its heyday in the '50s and '60s, it's a storied tradition which still appeals to modern-day consumers seeking longevity and quality.

"It's not fast fashion," he said.

"These are things that are made for people that have a sense of self, and it's a personal style choice that they're making, to have something made for them rather than still being dictated to by designers."


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