“This feels like Career Fair at business school,” snarked Fashion Verbatim blogger Adrian Corsin as he surveyed the logo-swathed lobby at Fashion Week yesterday. He was right. The main tent is a hive of promotional activity, with t-shirted workers offering everything from chewing gum to makeovers, and the incessant buzz is beginning to grate. Obviously, it would be impossible to have Fashion Week without sponsors—plus, no one’s griping about free Prosecco. But is it too much to ask that we enjoy the actual fashion sans corporate interference?
UPS practically painted the tent brown yesterday: between collections, the catwalk was lined with “models” (read: oh-so-lucky Fashion Week volunteers) wearing uniforms made “fashionable” with oversized yellow belts. “It’s so embarrassing,” said another blogger. “What kind of fashion week is sponsored by a shipping company? Only in Toronto!”
Left: mannequins display entries in the Ford Fashion Award competition; right: Kavi Kavi models on the Schick truck.
Schick took it a step further, holding the Kavi Kavi show outside on the “Schick truck,” a hot pink monstrosity parked outside the tent 24-7. (This would be more upsetting if we took Kavi Kavi’s prom queen-esque collection seriously to begin with.)
Not all fashionistas wear black. Left: Shirine Saad, editor of Voir and Montreal correspondent for Flare Magazine, wears so-this-second Comme des Garcons dropwaist pants and Miu Miu two-tone platforms with dayglo accessories; right: social columnist and scene fixture Rolyn Chambers shows off his hot kicks.
Schick Quattro razors were also placed on seats in the absence of designer gift bags at smaller shows, like yesterday’s opener Slavka Plavsic. How convenient, we thought, as the upstart designer’s haphazardly trimmed and tucked designs, bored-stiff models and dreary strings soundtrack left us feeling more than a little suicidal.
Left: Playdead Cult’s boom box was cooler than the actual clothes; right: Damzels in their dresses.
Luckily, the next show kicked life back into the proceedings. “Fashion Grindhouse”, a Damzels in This Dress/Playdead Cult double billing, featured two arty short films and a pair of young, playful collections set to good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. Damzels designers Rory Friede and Kelly Freeman delivered exactly what their loyal clientele want: unabashedly girlish frocks with a little rockabilly attitude. While the overtly retro styling was nothing we haven’t seen before, the sight of models having fun on the catwalk—we could be mistaken, but we believe some even smiled—was a refreshing first. Maybe it’s because, judging by their healthier-looking frames, these girls actually eat?
David Dixon models applaud the designer.
The first standing ovation of the week went to Andy The-Anh, whose soft-toned, feminine daywear and angelic evening gowns drew appreciative oohs and aahs from the packed-to-the-rafters crowd. There were no real missteps (those were left to the models, one of whom managed to fall while walking both on and off the runway), but there were also no risks in the Montreal designer’s almost too polished collection. The-Anh’s finale, in which a dozen models circuited the runway in identical grey silk chiffon frocks, only served to underscore the pretty repetitiveness of the presentation.
Left: Andy The-Anh; centre: David Dixon; right: Common Cloth.
Several industry heavyweights left after David Dixon’s dreamy, carefully experimental show, presumably due to stiletto fatigue. Shame, because they missed a second, equally well-deserved, standing ovation—this time, for designers Melanie Talbot and Kristina Bozzo of Common Cloth. The collection, set to the live, lo-fi melodies of Montreal indie rockers Famous Lovers, could have been better-edited (there’s only so much you can do with grey jersey before it starts to look like just, well, grey jersey) but hit all the right notes nonetheless: cool, fresh, insouciantly sexy and eminently wearable without being run-of-the-mill. “That was my favourite show so far,” said a male model in attendance, “because the clothes look like things my girlfriend would wear.” It’s easy to imagine any number of pretty young things slipping into the four-year-old label’s high-waisted, voluminous shorts and filmy little blouses for a spring picnic in Trinity-Bellwoods or patio drinks on College West. Only in Toronto, indeed—and we like it that way.