Photos by Sarah Prickett. Above: Vancouver’s Ginch Gonch Underwear, first show.
It rained an ocean yesterday, but still not enough to take the shine out of the first day of shows at Toronto—sorry, L’Oréal—Fashion Week. While passersby trudged past Nathan Phillips Square with hoods up and boots on, the city’s dedicated fashionistas strode into the great white tent in a series of inadequate (but unfailingly chic) jackets and perfectly impractical pumps. “My feet are going to kill me,” sighed an already exhausted volunteer, “but I’d rather die than wear flats to Fashion Week.”
Indiva models brave the rain.
Outside the model tent, a bored-looking foursome shared cigarettes and umbrellas. One, a stringy redhead skulking under a black cap, apologetically told Torontoist she couldn’t have her picture taken; only then did we recognize her as Rebecca Hardy, winner of Canada’s Next Top Model, Cycle 2. “You know how it is,” the meat factory girl said. We don’t.
Inside, the late-October chill was but a memory as Ginch Gonch, a Vancouver-based underwear company, sent out a parade of preposterously hot models in colourful unmentionables, strategically placed props and gallons of body oil. “This is the worst show I’ve ever seen,” sniped a power-suited woman next to us, turning on a four-inch heel to leave. But then a rippled Adonis emerged in assless briefs, and she changed her mind, lingering near the entrance. Was it fashion? No, but that’s why it was so fun.
Left: Mayor David Miller speaks to the press; right: Bustle model Nicholas Pilaprat gets made-up backstage.
“Who are you wearing?” is the question of the week, so we put it to David Miller as he made his way through the gathering throng of stylemongers. “That’s a good question!” the mayor said, opening his striped navy jacket to reveal the label of his local men’s shop: Cecil Ward & Sons, Toronto. The suit itself? By Jack Victor, a menswear company based in…Montreal?! We forgave him the treachery when, in a speech on the runway, he accidentally delivered the funniest line of the day: “I’ve just had the privilege of being backstage with some wonderful models…and designers.” Pause. “I didn’t say that right, did I?”
Left: Canada’s Next Top Model winner Rebecca Hardy; middle: Joeffer Caoc collection; right: Indiva collection.
Following Miller’s speech, Yorkville boutique Indiva made their L’Oréal Fashion Week debut, presenting collections by a trio of Indian designers. The first two were misses—one was only mediocre, the other notably awful, ripping off Chanel so badly that Karl Lagerfeld could sue for intellectual theft—but the third brought a hit big enough to make up for two hundred misses. The dress was midnight blue and a miracle of weightless volume, its shape a dramatically overblown trapeze, and as the flame-haired waif of a model swung down the runway there was a collective intake of breath and then the ecstatic release of applause. It was a moment of undiluted fashion magic, the kind editors jet-set to New York and Paris and Milan to see—and it happened in Nathan Phillips Square.
Left: a Fashion Week attendee gets a professional makeup application; right: Joeffer Caoc models after the show.
A similar moment occurred a third of the way through Bustle’s menswear collection, when the procession of pretty boys in predictably WASPy sport suits was interrupted by a gorgeous black female model slinking down the runway in suspenders and tuxedo-stripe trousers. Her crowd-pleasing appearance was beautifully fresh and unexpected, especially given the disappointing lack of ethnic diversity at most of the other shows yesterday. In a city famed for its multiculturalism, surely we don’t need to see the same pale faces over and over again.
MTV Canada’s Dan Levy and Jenni Cruickshank, and Fashion Television‘s Jeannie Beker
Other faces we could do without: those of MTV Canada “personalities” Dan Levy and Jessi Cruickshank, also surprise models at the Bustle show. Afterward, the two sat down for an interview with Jeanne Beker, who held court all night on the live-to-air Fashion Television set. Levy told Beker he thinks “it’s becoming fashionable for kids to care about fashion”; of her personal style, Jessi said that she “doesn’t like to look like anyone else.” Ugh. We suddenly remembered why we never watch MTV Canada.
Joeffer Caoc’s opening look from the closing show.
At half past nine, the runway room filled past capacity for the last and most-anticipated show of the day: Joeffer Caoc. Never one to disappoint, the rapidly up-and-coming designer showed a collection as impossible not to love as his name is to pronounce. The streamlined, sixteen-look array of eighties-inspired (yet thoroughly modern) eveningwear delighted the audience—in particular, Jeanne Beker, who sat at the end of the runway in one of Caoc’s signature designs: a superbly draped fuchsia cocktail dress with a black patent belt.
“Oh, I’m so proud of him!” we heard Beker practically coo to a colleague, clapping her hands over a stunning one-shouldered number in tangerine satin. “This is so awesome!”
We couldn’t agree more.
Zoran Dobric collection, second show.