While spring may still be making up its mind whether to grace us with its presence, Toronto Fashion Week recently kicked off with a preview of Canada’s top collections for fall 2008. Come hell or high waisted trousers, The Varsity was there to bring you all the juicy details.
Designer Nada Shepherd may have gleaned inspiration from the ‘80s megasoap Dynasty, but the results could have used a little Alexis Carrington- style bravado. Sure, there was a furry magenta tube dress, but too much of Nada’s innovation came in the form of contrasting zippers. Office-style suiting featured boxy silhouettes and a steely palette, with zippers placed in awkward, asymmetrical excess. Unwieldy geometric experimentation rounded out evening wear, which fell short of its potential despite a few standout pieces.
“That’s not how a suit coat should fit,” whispered a fellow attendee as a black pinstripe suit strutted down the runway. Sure enough, it was difficult to tell whether the suit was wearing its beefy model, or the other way around. While it seems as though Bustle designers Shawn Hewson and Rut Promislow are riding the same tailoring wavelength as some other menswear trailblazers of late—New York golden boy Thom Browne comes to mind—there is much to be said for a suit coat that’s snug. Luckily, Hewson and Promislow have the stylistic chops to distract from their blunders, as dandy three-pieces, bib-front shirts and skinny Euro ties harkened to a bygone era of the cigarette-touting debonair, managing to be foppish freshness.
Philip Sparks played with stylistic function in his fall menswear collection, throwing in bits and bobs of outerwear, suiting, and a couple of man bags for good measure. V-neck intarsia sweaters were paired with bowtie-adorned oxford shirts, while cabled cardigans topped roomy trousers. Generous fur trims accented the collars of double-breasted peacoats in camel and grey plaid, accessorized with matching fur mitts that are best described as “Wookie-chic.”
Co-presented by Fashion Television impresario Jeanne Beker and repugnant doll franchise Bratz, Diesel Kids wisely opted to bribe their potentially snarky runway attendees with an unlimited offering of chocolate coins and Ring Pops, graciously served out of toy treasure chests by adults dressed as pirates. The collection itself was charming, if entirely unfeasible (would anyone actually send their child to school wearing shorts in November, with or without furry boots?). Then again, it’s hard to see a 10-year-old rocking a Diesel leather bomber jacket with genuine swagger and not be moderately impressed.
Montreal designer Andy Thé-Anh’s collection was among the highlights of Fashion Week, combining straightforward wearability with the right amount of edgy detail to keep things interesting. A simple, well-cut waistcoat and trouser combination was made stunning by the addition of long, structured armwarmers and a shoulder-skimming cowl piece. A cleanly-tailored suit that seemed everyday business professional came off as a bold eveningwear statement because of an off-the-shoulder jacket. While Thé-Anh’s designs are subtle and streamlined, it is his meticulous attention to the unexpected that sets him apart as one of Canada’s most talented young designers.
Perhaps it was the elaborate runway setup— complete with a snow machine and faux-gaslight installations—but I am not entirely convinced that David Dixon’s fall collection merited a standing ovation. More can be said for the preciseness of Dixon’s figure-conscious tailoring than for his novelty. Jewel-toned shift blouses featured lantern sleeves and flawless construction; raspberry plaid was put to fine use in both a belted trench and trapeze jacket. Balloon sleeves and long, slouchy gloves were everywhere.
If Joeffer Caoc is a designer whose strengths lie in his sculptural approach to garment construction, then his fall collection was certainly a showcase for his unique ability. Highly structured overcoats commanded attention, but never overbearingly. Perfectly body-hugging jersey sheath dresses in subdued plums and blues appeared precariously draped and folded, yet flawlessly maintained their shape.