|written by Linda Gaylard
“Canada has a plethora of young talent”, L.A. stylist Phillip Bloch told us during his informal talk at Fall 2004/2005 Toronto Fashion Week, where this season, his high profile presence almost eclipsed the runway fashions. I even found myself searching his face for reactions while we sat on opposite sides of the runway. Still, his interest in our rising stars was an endorsement of sorts. Arthur Mendonca’s focussed show impressed him. Mr. Bloch even managed a midnight studio visit to see Thien Le’s fall collection at the behest of Dierdre Kelly as we mingled at the Missoni reception. “You can’t come to Toronto and not see his gowns.” And off he went!
The presence of the Missoni family, in town to present their stunning 50th retrospective show, boosted the glamour quotient of TFW which branded itself “Canadian Chic”. Vittorio Missoni was a gracious guest attending many shows, conducting a master class with fashion students and playing the amused uncle as his niece Margherita, an FIT fashion student, shopped the runway.
Toronto Fashion Week can be an exhausting blur of show after show for the more than 300 members of the media who attend. I saw pieces from 115 designers in four days, so I was grateful for any runway shenanigans that kept me engaged. Ariel Garten’s conceptual show “Surface” must have been a fashion first. Stone-faced models were wheeled out on dollies and moved along a conveyor belt, standing in boxes, wearing skirts and dresses with cut outs and add-ons in nylon and pleated organza.
Misura’s show “Temptress” was a welcome comeback to glamour for Joeffer Caoc with his shimmering cocktail dresses and gowns. Rushing back to the Liberty Grand, we just missed Fashion Nation’s reception and smudging ceremony, but I had no trouble getting in the mood for their show. Award winning Aboriginal designers Angela de Montigny, Pam Baker, D’Arcy Moses, Dene Fur Clouds, Tammy Beauvais, and Ronald Everett delivered collections that Sr. Missoni expressed as “moving and humbling”.
Fashion Mission presented nine visiting Montreal designers, including Bodybag by Jude, Chichi, Isabelle Elie, and Eve Gravel. Several in the group had also presented during Montreal Fashion Week which I attended in early February. Labelled “Synergy Week” by organizers, MFW took place at the Science Museum in the Old Port over three wintry days but only 10 designers showed on the flat runway as we sat on gymnasium benches. In spite of the lack of fanfare and runway showmanship, some moments stood out: - The sister act of Falbala with their flirty hounds tooth suits; Yves Jean Lacasse’s elegant open house at his Westmount boutique, where he displayed his Envers collection featuring Chinese silk and mink from Eastern Europe; Denis Gagnon’s ultra slim-fitting pants, tiny jackets in knits and leathers and a baby blue hooded jumpsuit.
The pièce de résistance was Andy Thé-Anh’s “Cholo Chic” (cholo is Spanish for gangster). The flat runway was transformed to red and adorned on either side with hundreds of scarlet roses. Sirens howled and red lights flashed as the first pieces appeared. Colour was everywhere, from cadmium green and brilliant turquoise shirts to cochineal red gowns. His skirts were flounced, the pants suits were cinched and in everything the fit was perfect. His show provided the vitality and drama otherwise missing from the week.
In Toronto, the David Dixon and New Labels show was held at the Quandrangle-designed glass and steel BMW showroom. Giggling VIPs were shuffled 50 at a time onto the car freight elevator up to the runway. David used the ubiquitous tweed of fall and luxe turquoise satin for suits and coats with cocoon sleeves. New Labels designers inspired as expected – pulling, twisting and teasing fabrics into new shapes and utilizing colours in bold and subversive ways.
On the way back, I shared a car with Lauren Ezersky of Style network’s “Behind the Velvet Ropes”. She enthused over both the loot in her gift bag and a segment she shot at the Bata Shoe Museum that morning. “The best ever!” she exclaimed in her thick New York accent. All this running around makes a person hungry, so I devoured the chocolate served at Janet T. Planet’s “Rocolat” installation where some of the rock-diva fashions were actually sculpted from the confection…yum.
Worth mentioning in Toronto’s large line up are: Hilary Radley who launched her daywear line featuring olive drab tweeds and large patterned tapestry skirts and jackets; Paul Hardy, who used Persian lamb and warm brocades; At the Carlu - Farley Chatto’s ski chalet-inspired menswear with bulky fair isle sweaters and après-ski under garments; Ula Zukowska’s soft metallic gold gown that seemed to float off the runway.
“Synergy” or “Chic”, our fashion parade needs trimming. “Edit, edit, edit”, Phillip Bloch chastised his Toronto audience. One sensed that he wasn’t just speaking to the designers. The less is more axiom could be applied to all involved and when Fashion Week next comes to town we’ll be ready for our visiting celebrities.