Paul Hardy. Photo by Dave Pike.
What we learned at L’Oreal Fashion Week:
1. Right now, orange is the new ____. Sunkist hues were spotted on everyone from Fashion Television’s Jeanne Beker to starlet-intern Shenae Grimes (dressed for the week by Nada Yousif), while Orangina girls costumed in head-to-toe tangelo handed out bottles of the it-coloured fizz. (“We’re totally just taking these to mix with vodka,” said a street-stylish pair of photographers.)
2. And for fall? That orange gets burnt, earth tones are back, and we reluctantly accept that you might be feeling teal. Exposed zippers, thanks to Arthur Mendonca’s fall collection—last fall—are everywhere, lending a punk-poseur sensibility to otherwish plain-ish clothes; extended shoulders are yesterday’s news, but still read well in collections by Denis Gagnon and Joeffer Caoc.
3. Of course, buyers aren’t looking for new ideas here. New is in New York; by the time the trends get to Toronto, they’re at least a month behind (but more often, six.) Depressing? Yes, but there’s hope: a Holt Renfrew trend forecaster told us her personal dream is to help elevate Toronto to the top tier of Fashion Weeks, with the help of our young country’s even younger talent. Our fingers are crossed.
Photos by Darryl Natale.
And, what we learned the hard way:
4. When a designer gift bag includes an item so tacky as a black baseball cap with his logo stitched in hot pink, get up immediately. Don’t walk. Runway away. You’re in for a show so bad, it will make you nostalgic for Kmart.
We actually sat through TATSUAKI, a catalogue of streetwear so uninspired, it was like “designer” Dan Liu had copied Forever 21 copies of L.A.M.B. After five minutes, when we realized it wasn’t a joke—yes, it was seriously that bad—we gave up watching the clothes and started watching front row reactions instead. One magazine editor looked like she was choking back equal amounts of vomit and laughter, while a newspaper columnist spent the entire show reading emails on her Blackberry. Or perhaps composing one? Memo to the FDCC: stop wasting our time with this garbage.
Left: Zoran Dobric; right: Nada Yousif. Photos by VicPhotos.
Luckily, that embarrassment was followed by the Zoran Dobric show, a transition akin to stepping from an alleyway into an art gallery. According to the designer’s biggest fan—Boutique LeTrou owner Marlene Shiff—his clothes have been getting more beautiful and wearable each season, and this one was a blockbuster. Jewel-toned silk, hand-painted and printed by Dobric himself, was swathed and tucked into blousy, asymmetrical shapes and un-body-conscious sheaths (menswear consisted mainly of vests and trickily folded scarves.) Worn with knee-high black stockings, the aesthetic was all very Prada, but the show was saved from mere imitation by the unique loveliness of Dobric’s fabrics. The best was a softly streaked print, water-coloured in the greens and blues of changing seas, like a ruined painting recovered from a flood.
A Canadian Girl in Paris: if that wasn’t the title of Nada Yousif’s sophomore outing, it should have been. Her lissome girls walked a streetlamp-lit runway in artist’s berets and poet-sleeve blouses, their steps set to soufflé-light French pop; it was the Paris that exists only in illustrated guide books and sixteen-year-old dreams. In keeping with fall’s flashback to groovier days, Yousif mixed so-70s shades of chocolate and golden caramel with her beloved Bubblicious pinks and purples. The result was a little less saccharine than spring’s candy girl collection, but every bit as sellable: the lolli-stripe skirts were there from last season, but so were Lolita-silhouette brocade frocks that had front-rowers saying “Miu too?”
Left: Rudsak; right: Pink Tartan. Photos by Tricia Yoo.
By evening on the final day, we worried Fashion Week would pass without an accidentally hilarious Robin Kay story to share. We shouldn’t have. Scheduled to make a speech at the Rudsak show, our favourite hot mess tumbled into the spotlit, flung off her fur bolero to reveal a half-undone dress, looked dazedly around the runway, and dashed backstage again. A minute passed. There were murmurs and twitters. And then, the announcer boomed “Robin Kay!” for the second time, and she entered, properly zipped up and smiling as though nothing had happened. We’re not saying she’s on drugs, but if she is? We want them.
Showstopping honours fell to Kimberly Newport-Mimran, queen to Canada’s king of fashion, and her perennially preppy label, Pink Tartan. Her models, lithe and sex-haired, marched out to chick-rock so loud, the seat vibrations could have induced orgasms. Stripped of the hawt couture styling, the clothes themselves were pretty, but predictable: satin frocks, swing-skirted suits, pleats and plaids.
Pink Tartan is for Yorkville princesses; for west-end scene queens, it’s Pink Cobra. The Carte Blanche in-house label put on a late late show at Tattoo Rock Parlour that was worth the Marc Jacobs-long wait and the messy crush of the well-liquored crowd (indeed, after four days of air kisses, the sight of a barely-of-age couple making out in the mosh pit was almost welcome). Fierce-eyed models and Social-ites strutted out in pairs (killer heels and ripped nylons), posing on rotating platforms amid strobe lights and digital flashes.
The clothes, space-age, glam-punk clothes, were better than ninety percent of what we’ve seen in the tents; as Fashion Verbatim‘s Adrian Corsin put it, “this actually looks the designer picked up a fashion magazine sometime in the last six months.” Indeed, Tania Martins knows her comeback designers: Herve Leger showed up in the impeccable form of a high-waisted bandage skirt; Halston made an appearance in a silver one-shoulder pantsuit. Some of it was too much, perhaps, or too obvious, but we couldn’t help but applaud Martins’s street-sexy vision of the modern city girl. We would have given a standing ovation, but we were already on our feet, with the crowd, dancing on our too-high, too-tired heels.
Pink Cobra show at Tattoo Rock Parlour. Photos by Sarah Nicole Prickett.