With this October falling upon us as heavily as the one of, say, 1929, shopping is the last thing we can do to lighten the mood. We keep hearing about this thing called “recession,” and the word reverbrates between our ears whenever we take the tiniest tiptoe toward the counter at a clothing shop. Sure, we don’t have property or stocks, and, since we decided to write for a living, never had job prospects to begin with. But even if it doesn’t directly affect us, the collective economic mood is such that we feel guilty making even the remotestsuggestion of retail as therapy.
Still, we can’t forget that October is also fashion month in Toronto—with only two weeks ’til the spring 2009 collections put the spotlight on Nathan Phillips Square, we hear sewing machines hunmming in the autumn air the way other people hear birds in spring. Then, of course, there’s this thought: how about shopping as bolstering the local economy? (Let’s leave the States to disasters of their own design, really.)
A couple weeks ago, we had the pleasure of attending The Fashion Incubator’s annual New Labels brunch. As press and buyers nibbled grapes and pastries, and designers waited for the latter to bite, Mayor David Miller took the microphone to announce a record investment in TFI (less known as The Toronto Centre for the Promotion of Fashion Design). The $150,000 cheque, signed by the Ontario Triullium Foundation, will fund the tripling in size of TFI’s breeding grounds. Starting January 1, 2009, Miller said, they’ll expand into the entire Music Building at 285 Manitoba Drive, Exhibition Place.
Not a syllable of the R-word was breathed.
Instead, there were choruses of oohs and aahs—not only over the good news, but in reaction to the racks of spring offerings from the city’s brightest blossoming talent. Especially impressive, we thought, was the overwhelming ratio of young women designing for other young women. Of our favourites, in no particular order, and after the jump, here are the top three reasons to (ahem) spring for spring.
“It’s brought to you by the letter B!” says the winsome, Winnipeg-born Adrienne Butikofer of her sophomore collection with TFI. “You know, butterflies, boyfriends, baseball, bipolar disorder…”
Erm, right. What we did see was a collection of cute, sportif separates that redefine that oft-used designation, “wearable”: most of the black, white, hot pink and orange pieces could be custom-sized with a series of well-placed snaps. Our favourite was what we dubbed the Thanksgiving dress: a smart, black linen number with a pleated-and-snapped waist that could be cinched or expanded, depending on the amount of stuffing consumed (the hem is similarly adjustable). Such ingenious design retails for a suggested $290; look for it at Charlie Boutique and UPC, or shop Butikofer.com.
We stopped to stare at the backdrop of Jessica Jensen’s display—a multigrand Thrush Holmes painting in prismatic pastels—and stayed to fall in love with her handbags. Roomy totes, hobos, and clutches are made of buttercreamy leather, woven and folded for an almost rustic effect, in muted yet mouthwatering hues (imagine beeswax, mocha, rose). Standout styles include the Bloom tote ($758), which comes embellished with laser-cut floweres and butterflies, and the versatile Grace portfolio ($428), a fold-over clutch expansive enough to hold two kitchen sinks.
Eugenia Leavitt’s “classic cocktail attire” may be the height of eco-chic—fabrics include (and are limited to) surprisingly sumptuous hemp knits, bamboo blends, and organic silks—but it’s the sea, not the earth, that comes to mind. Her spring line, simply and precisely titled “Enfold,” is marked by soft pleats and shell-like ruffles, some wrought in watery blues and greens. Black and white basics round out the capsule collection. Prices range from $65 for a knit top to $495 for a silk sheath dress.
She doesn’t sell her sea shells here (yet), but Torontonians can see Eugenia’s show on October 24, 4 p.m., at L’Oreal Fashion Week.
All photos courtesy of Faulhaber PR.