A model at Joe Fresh. Photo by Pete Lytwyniuk / Studiolit.
Smaller is better? Believe it: this fashion season, everything’s been downsized, from L’Oreal gift bags containing a single, travel-sized hair spray (minimalism?) to the teeny-tiny LG laptops in the Media Lounge—wait, make that “Filing Room.” For journos surviving on Kit Kat Singles and huddling around mini-screens, it all feels a bit like a visual gag.
In fact, looks like the only things that aren’t smaller at LG Fashion Week are…the models? Mais oui. First, we poorly conceal sneers at the use of “real women” at Cheri Milaney’s grandma-wear show. Oldsters? Gross. (Anita Clarke of I Want I Got said it nicely: “I like a little fantasy with my fashion.”) Later, in keeping with this season’s official motto, LG Fashion Week showed big love to bigger girls with a Plus-Size Model Search Cocktail Party. Winner Brittney Fisher, twenty-three, will appear in ads for Reitman’s Fashion Group, as well as a plus-size supplement in LouLou Magazine.
We missed the coronation, however, having been whisked away to City Hall for a meet-and-greet with local politicos, international press and buyers, and Robin Kay (who looked Mary-Mary-quite-contrary in a Comrags gardenia-print dress, oddly coupled with wintery black boots). Media alert: this is where they’re keeping the food. After snacking on samosas with a pair of Spanish journalists, we’re pleased to meet a woman breathlessly described by Eye Weekly‘s Rea McNamara as a “sixties Yorkville legend”: designer, painter, and onetime boutique boss Marilyn Brooks. The conversation goes as follows.
Brooks: “So, are you doing some modelling here?”
Torontoist: “Umm, no. I can write. I can spell.”
(Somehow, Brooks remains charming.)
Comrags. Photo by Pete Lytwyniuk / Studiolit.
All were back in the tents for Comrags, the quarter-century-strong line designed by indomitable duo Judy Cornish and Joyce Gunhouse. As always, it was thoughtful and immaculate; the DJ missed beats, but the show never did. Comrags dresses have grown up with the designers, and this season, the look is that of a prim and Prada-loving librarian, albeit one with a rich inner life.
Rust and charcoal wools were mixed with woodsy plaid; men’s socks went under Fleuvog lace-ups (some with cute peep toes). For a finale, there was a profuse array of silks in every silhouette, from retro-fitted to mod and smocked; all very nice, though perhaps in need of a steam blast from one of the Rowenta machines parked in the tent. In the end, what we loved most was the models’ hair, all teased and tangled into magpies’ nests with pretty shiny things pinned in.
Two looks from Andy The-Anh. Photos by Pete Lytwyniuk / Studiolit.
For clothes to make a satin-smooth entrance, no Canadian designer is more reliable than glamour maestro Andy The-Anh. But for the next party season, he zoomed in on the exit too, tying the backs of dresses into oversize bows (see also: Valentino, Carolina Herrera). From a relentlessly beige first half, made bearable only by wondering whether all those crystallized leggings were part of the line or just a cool styling touch, The-Anh burst into a subdued riot of colour combinations. At best, we thought of the latest Balenciaga show; at worst, “oh god, is there no end to this rainbow?”
Andy The-Anh. Photo by Pete Lytwyniuk / Studiolit.
Dawdling before the Pink Tartan show, we chat with account executive Maryam Keyhani about the stunning, silk-flowered necklace she’s wearing—her own design, hand-made. With everyone from FASHION Magazine‘s Jordan Porter to Holt Renfrew’s Natalie Lecomte to Robin Kay herself demanding an outsize, inspired piece of Keyhani’s work, she may just be the off-runway story of the season.
Chat over, we’re rushing only to find ourselves stuck in seating limbo. Brooklyn Brownstone to the rescue! The FDCC’s girl-in-charge shows us to the best seat in the house: the tech booth. Here, we discover that the “voice of God,” you know, the one forever sternly booming at us to get in our seats, is named Sam. He wears suede sneakers and performs impromptu jigs when show music plays. We’re delighted.
Pink Tartan. Photo by Pete / Studiolit.
For fall ’09, the Pink Tartan woman is Grace. Again? But no, it’s not Ms. Kelly. Instead, founder-designer Kimberly Newport-Mimran presents the whitest Grace Jones alive. Seriously. With only two black models in the whole show, we can’t help wishing someone had slipped the lovely Mimran a copy of that Vogue Italia. The clothes are as cocktail-ready as you’d expect, with neatly tailored separates (cropped skinnies, swingy coats) mingling among zipped-up satin frocks. Only one really stands out: a navy body-con number with a padded collar (a nice switch from the shoulders). Plus, we instantly covet a mean pair of leather pants, nicely paired with a navy cardigan. But the rest feels rather too familiar. Black, white, hot pink, and houndstooth? We know Barbie is an inspiration to us all, and yet….
Joe Fresh Style. Photo by Pete / Studiolit.
Season after season, the big question is: who’s gonna walk the grocery aisle? Everyone’s favourite Loblaws label, Joe Fresh Style, always manages to score the boldest-faced models. But we’ve seen Irina Lazareanu here before; is it too much to hope for Daria? As for the clothes, Joe Mimran’s making a strong bid to design our Olympic athletes’ uniforms. If you’re thinking figure-skating skirts, black fleece headbands, and athletic grey knits, you’re right. If you’re thinking puffed parkas and slim-cut ski pants, you’re also right. If you’re thinking a hooded bodystocking or a “snow skirt,” made of white puffed nylon over tulle, you’re crazy…but right. Best of all are the boots, made of what looks like (what else?) PVC, laced up Docs-style with cozy knit trim; buffalo check is cool too, but better bought vintage.
Top: DJs spin Daft Punk remixes at Carte Blanche. Bottom: Carte Blanche co-owner Dan Augustino. Photos by Hannah Sider.
And if you really wanted to know what the youth are wearing, you would have skipped the tents and hit the open bar at Queen West cool-kid mecca Carte Blanche. Thrown by Speech Jewellery (with a little help from Absolut Vodka), it was the party of the week: if you weren’t there, you must be over twenty-five with a day job. Travis Taddeo‘s radically attired stylist and scenester extraordinaire (first name Cary; last name, well, with a first name like Cary, who needs one?) found a way to dance in YSL suede platforms; Carte Blanche “muse” Danielle Tummon fulfilled her dubious duty by looking skinny and awesome; Lookbook starlet Hannah Sider snapped pictures of her fluorescent-lipped friends. Around the eleventh hour, the party followed Richard Lambert to his bar (you know, The Social). We did not.