Left: Lite-Brite satin at Nada Yousif; right: rainbow-striped dress, also Nada Yousif.
The last day of Fashion Week’s Spring 2008 collections brought the first taste of summer fashion (unless you count swimwear as fashion, which you shouldn’t). Twenty-three-year-old designer Nada Yousif made her runway debut with a collection so full of candy colours (cherry, grape, orange, sour blue raspberry) that it made the phrase “bright young talent” too easy a pun. Yousif played with volume, mostly in bubble skirts and dresses with exaggerated pouch pockets (a trend we hope doesn’t catch on, lest all young women begin to look like kangaroos with twin joeys on the way), but was at her best when she let her vibrant silks fall into simpler shapes: tank chemises, wide-legged slacks and a long, easy-flowing gown in a riotously colourful print. Very urban bohème—and très impressive, considering Yousif taught herself to sew while working a day job in information technology.
Fashion Week attendees celebrate in the main tent after the closing show.
Toronto streetwear label Seven Eighty’s “Nautical Adventure” was more the former than the latter, never veering from a strict course of pinstriped suits and preppy separates in navy, white and red. If we had to guess, we’d say the design process involved two steps: 1) buying in bulk from a Tommy Hilfiger outlet and 2) silkscreening a few variations of the Seven Eighty logo. Blech. Wisely, Jeanne Beker decided to sit this one out; less so, she neglected to ask one of her assistants for a run-down of the show before sitting down for a live interview with the designer. “So the collection focuses on denim…” she began, only to be interrupted with: “Actually, it’s jackets.”
“Jackets,” Beker continued, unfazed, “a lot of jackets!” Yep, and that’s about it.
Left: a live mannequin in the Farley Chatto installation; right: a trio of male models make their way through the crowd.
We’d say it was the nauseating boredom of the Seven Eighty show that made 90 percent of the models in it look like they were walking a plank instead of a runway, but unfortunately, lacklustre struts had been de rigeur all week. In the media lounge between shows, Boutique LeTrou owner and designer Marlene Schiff bemoaned the lack of personality in the new crop of clothes hangers, insisting the girls were the worst she’s ever seen. Are they just too young, she speculated, too green? Are the stylists not giving them enough direction? Is that slick-looking white runway really so hazardous that they’re afraid to fall if they so much as swing a hip?
Later, MuchMusic VJ Sarah Taylor (herself a former model) offered a simple explanation. “They’re hungry!” she said. “It’s hard to have a personality when you’re hungry.”
Left: a model perfects the Official Blank Stare of L’Oreal Fashion Week; centre; Renee Thompson flaunts what she’s got; right: our favourite dress at GSUS.
“Oh, God, they’re all so young!” exclaimed a forty-plus woman, draped in head-to-toe black, as she surveyed the bright twenty-something scene (with a capital ‘S’) in the tent for GSUS Industries. The Dutch label’s evening showing drew a crowd Drake Loungers and Social-ites, the kind of kids who don’t venture east of Bathurst for anything less than a full-on trendfest. (Hollywood gossip queen Perez Hilton also made a front row appearance at the show, earning himself the dubious distinction of being the only, er, “celebrity” we’ve ever seen who looks fatter in person). And that’s exactly what they got. According to GSUS, the theme for Spring 2008 is “Oriental Speed Warriors,” which translated to electric yellow and black patent leather, gold lamé swimwear, shiny bomber jackets, graphic t-shirts and hoodies, and a couple of nu-rave-y things we’re betting (or at least hoping) will be out of style long before they’re in the store.
In fact, the best part of GSUS had nothing to do with the clothes; it was that we finally spotted a model with enough spunk to make up for all those scared-stiff fifteen-year-olds. A larger-than-life Renee Thompson (of Norwayne Anderson Models) owned the runway, shaking it to Simian Mobile Disco’s “It’s The Beat” and sending photographers into a frenzy with her end-of-runway vamping. She nearly stumbled on her last foray, in a constricting pencil skirt and platform slingbacks, but recovered with an exaggerated shimmy that elicited cheers from the audience, then turned and bowed cheekily before exiting. That’s style.
Left: red nails and lips are always in style; right: the front row at Thien Le [photo by Arthur Mola].
Given the closing spot at Fashion Week, we expected designer Thien Le to do something, well, showstopping.
Instead, he did golfwear.
You heard us. Golfwear. Not a golf-themed show, not clothes you might wear golfing but could also wear to the office or on a lunch date, but actual golfwear.
Honestly, we don’t even want to talk about it. Suffice it to say that after watching what felt like a half-hour-long Old Navy commercial, with pastel-clad models posing in groups and pairs on AstroTurf, we were sorely in need of the free wine at the Fashion Television/Eye Candy-hosted celebration in the tent.
Left: Le T by Thien Le; right: attendees gush over the contents of the Rudsak gift bags.
After guzzling down a few glasses and gathering up their gift bags, attendees wandered out into Nathan Phillips Square in search of taxi cabs and afterparty destinations. Many went to the “official” closing festivities at Ultra, hosted by Perez Hilton; others, to celebrate fashion of a different kind at Circa’s Randomland/Halloween party. There, as we waited in the coat check line, we saw a trio of models in a neon-painted niche. Stripped of their runway makeup, the girls were still recognizable but looked years younger, too young to be stumbling in heels through a labyrinthian nightclub. As the three disappeared around the corner, we heard one yell out, in a voice shrill with too much free champagne, “I’m so hungry!”
And so, to all the models, designers, stylists, hair and makeup artists, volunteers, and all those who’ve spent the last week too weight- or fashion-obsessed to even think about consuming food, we say, eat a french fry. You deserve it.
Left: Rudsak collection; right: Paul Hardy’s best dress.
All photos by Henry Roxas unless otherwise noted.