Preloved. Photo by Sagittarius_Canada on Flickr.
Music is to fashion what cigarettes are to vodka: one makes you want more of the other. The right song elevates a runway show, heightening moments of desire and brightening the snapshots in memory.
Opening the second day of L’Oreal Fashion Week, the Preloved show gave a perfect example of the sound-look synaesthetic. Designer Peter Friesen and founder Julia Grieve lost their shop to the Queen West fire but kept their cool, showing off a spunky collection of recrafted knitwear: cropped jackets, high-waisted skirts and trousers, and darling sweater dresses, all lined in paint-the-town red. Mid-show, that suddenly-everywhere Hercules and Love Affair single had us falling “Blind”-ly in love. And for an unforgettable finale? Punchline, more like: the Talking Heads’ classic “Burning Down the House” had the models stomping to the remixed refrain of “fightin’ fire with fire”—and the audience on their feet, laughing and clapping along.
A model gets primped backstage. Photo by Darryl Natale.
Talenti Moda Milani, a showcase of the Italian fashion capital’s best student work, opened with the eerie strains of Radiohead’s “Nude.” The spine-tingling melody made the first looks—long, rectangular layers in drab colours, by IED‘s Alessandro Vigilante—seem somehow mysterious. It wasn’t until after the Thom Yorke spell wore off that we realized the Italians had saved the best for last: of the half-dozen mini-shows, the collective effort by NABA A-Lab Milani was by far the coolest, with skinny suits, austere silhouettes, and sexy asymmetry (we especially loved a deconstructed cape-coat strapped over one shoulder). There were missteps (like a flimsy satin pantsuit, or a beige heap of tulle with red and green pieces tacked on as an Italian nationalist afterthought) but overall, the direction was firmly forward.
NABA A-Lab Milano. Photo by Sarah Nicole Prickett.
Over a soundtrack best described as deep bass flamenco (every decibel as awful as that sounds), Project Runway runner-up Lucian Matis sent out a 35-piece presentation wrought almost entirely in black (silk, wool, sequins) and called… “The Black Collection.” At its best, the maximalist designs evoked the dark side of Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel; at worst, they looked like costumes in a high school drama. Embellishment was heavy-handed, ruffles made poor substitutions for structure, and the bows, could they have been any bigger? A one-shouldered, lace-appliqued confection in dove grey tulle looked pretty, and pretty familiar—perfect for the prom princess who can’t afford the real McQueen. On the other end of the spectrum, a slinky silk charmeuse gown, black-tied all the way down one side, was grown-up and gorgeous—unfortunately, it was the rare tasteful exception in a rather tacky display of excess.
From all black, into the red: the Heart Truth show had Canadian “celebrities” modelling in one-of-a-kind scarlet gowns to raise awareness of breast cancer in women. Fashion Television maven Jeanne Beker wore Joeffer Caoc, as always; actress and comedienne Catherine O’Hara took a tumble in Thien Le (and landed on Perez Hilton.)
Ladies in red at Heart Truth, a fashion show to raise awareness of heart disease in women. Photos by Darryl Natale.
Meanwhile, in a loft across town, younger hearts skipped beats at the sight of Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspar Augé (just a couple of DJs called Justice, heard of them?) wandering through Ourspace/Studio. Last seen through a haze of cigarette (and other) smoke at the After Dafterparty, the newly whitewashed space was nearly unrecognizable; the same couldn’t be said of Justice labelmate Busy P, whose likeness (in the form of a handheld paper mask) was the must-have accessory at the preview party for Ed Banger artist SoMe‘s first North American exhibition, Portraits.
Justice has arguably the trendiest sound around, with hordes of wildly stylish followers, but do they feel they influence fashion? “No,” Xavier told a violet-eyed Fashion Television intern, “because we don’t wear neon.”
The Parisian pair does, however, wear Dior Homme leather jackets—”We dress like the Strokes… five years too late,” said Gaspar—and those will remain fashionable long after their Daft Punk 2.0 beats have faded.
NADA. Photos by James Dawson.
Back in the tents, NADA thrilled the audience with a Michael Jackson-backed ode to the best of the eighties: namely, Dynasty. Models, heavily hairsprayed and costume-jewelled, catwalked in catfight-worthy getups: fur-trimmed capes, bodycon dresses in Jazzercise colours, power pantsuits and shoulder-padded print blouses. The eighties references were overplayed and over-the-top (how much exposed zipper can one minidress handle?), but we found ourselves singing along anyway.
As if to accompany NADA’s power princesses, Bustle gave us big primpin’ men, slick and silk-striped, high-rolling down the runway in a casino-themed show that starred Stacy McKenzie as a blackjack dealer. The song was Hot Chip’s “Over and Over,” which turned out to be all too fitting: several of the suits made double and triple appearances in the irritatingly repetitive show.
By contrast, Philip Sparks‘ closing presentation, an 18-look collection of luxe menswear, was remarkably well-edited and thought out. For his sophomore outing, Sparks found inspiration in nineteenth-century mugshots of petty criminals, but took grand risks, adding decadent fur collars and mittens to otherwise sensible suits. Unfortunately, even the metrosexiest men aren’t likely to sport outré accoutrements; still, they’ll doubtless dig his Dickensian cast of natty vests and v-neck sweaters. And girls in the audience liked the smart leather bombers—”perfect boyfriend jackets!” one twenty-something gushed. “Kinda New York, yeah?” said another. Quick, someone tell those Parisian DJs.
Why does it always rain at Fashion Week? Attendees stay warm, dry, and in style with bold scarves. Photos by Darryl Natale.