Will Fashion Save Your Life? Tune In, Find Out
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Will Fashion Save Your Life? Tune In, Find Out

Photo courtesy of Canwest Media.

When we think of “fashion” and “reality”—well, of late, we’d rather not. It’s one thing on television, but on the shopping streets, the reality is something grimmer.
To review a disheartening year in Toronto retail: Arthur Mendonca, one of our much-prized Group of Seven designers, stopped parading his collections at L’Oreal Fashion Week, then stopped producing them. Tevrow & Chase shuttered their Adelaide Street studio, giving cause for alarming questions: if glossy ad execs can’t afford good local cashmere, who can? Izzy Camilleri, a Canadian fashion original, slipped quietly away. And Boutique Le Trou, which was not just that, but also a local talent incubator, said au revoir, too.
Was it all doom? Of course not. Last month we took pleasure in reporting the opening of Philip Sparks Studio, No. 5005 in the lofty Burroughs Building. We could also have mentioned that a bright, bouncy new TNA store opened in the Eaton Centre, but perhaps we gave you a little more credit than that.
And now, we return to television, remembering that it is, after all, the point of this post. When reality programming reached the frontier of fashion, turning out insta-hits like America’s Next Top Model, Stylista, The Rachel Zoe Project and basically everything on Bravo, we knew we were in for a long escape.
Lucky, at least one of these shows is a conscionable pleasure, one in which the competition is between actual talent and the prize, a real shot at recognition. To wit, two words: Evan Biddell. You may not know he’s an up-and-coming designer, but you at least know the name, right?
And for that, you can say thanks—and welcome back!—to Project Runway Canada.
The second season of Canada’s fashion designer face-off hits home screens exactly one week from today (if you’re the agenda-toting type, mark off Tuesdays at 10 p.m.)

Judges Shawn Hewson and Rita Silvan. Photo courtesy of Canwest Media.

It feels like we’ve been counting down forever, which is probably because a fashion-lover’s idea of “forever” is about six months. It’s also how long ago we visited the Ottawa set of PRC2 (it’s the latest must-have acronym, trust!), a filming location so top-secretive, we could swear it was monitored by the national guard.
There, on a white-hot runway, we sat across from the throne of PRC host and international icon Iman (fact: it was just a chair, but she looked so regal in red that we half-expected to be dismissed with a sceptre’s wave) and listened as she said this: “Canada is a great country for young designers. Because it’s new, and there are so many new designers who will take risks, like Evan Biddell, who has such a unique talent….I just see a lot of exciting things.”
And sure, it’s what the ex-supermodel now was indirectly being paid to say. Sure, it was before all the bad news touched down in Toronto. But we’re just as sure she’s right, and that out of a shaken-down economy, new design stars will rise.
We’ll have more on Iman, the judges, and the four Toronto contestants (and how many does Ottawa have? Zero, so take that) on PRC2’s premiere day. Til then, you can watch unintentionally hilarious audition clips on the Global site. So-far favourite soundbite? “Fashion actually saved my life,” uttered with a Garden State level of earnestness by Christie from Vancouver.
Is it fashion? At its most hilariously stereotyped—catty, scissor-stabbing, over-the-top—yes, it’s a kind of fashion. Is it reality? No. Thank god, no.
As a postscript, we’d like to inform those more inclined to the other side of the camera that there is a very special audition (nay, opportunity) taking place at a mall near you. That is, if you live near the Fairview Mall (1800 Sheppard Avenue East, at the aptly and awesomely named Promotions Court, lower level).
That’s where the scouting tour for Canada’s Next Top Model is making its fifth and final stop, hoping to tap a photogenic pool of girls next door. Show up at Fairview this Friday, January 23, between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. (read the rules and regs first) if you have any of the following: a fresh face; searing tale of personal trauma; your own special mispronunciation of “haute couture”; more than eighteen comments on your latest Facebook profile pic; a concealable eating disorder.