Zent and Worth shine at FAT—and signal that the festival is growing up, in a good way.
Exciting. Not a word often applied to the state of Canadian menswear. It’s not that we lack the talent, but is a question of economics. Staying in business usually means designing for women, and even then it still isn’t easy. When you list some of the best known names in menswear—Philip Sparks, Ezra Constantine, Krane, or Rad Hourani (although we’re cheating on that last one since his lines are unisex)—you’re also pretty much listing all of Canadian menswear.
The Zent looks were basic and classic, but tweaked sexier. The best of the tops were light and sheer with artful blocking, playfully giving a glimpse of the body underneath without veering into fetish wear. Pastel tank tops and vintage 1960s-style shorts feel of-the-moment and seem destined to be the de facto uniform for Pride.
Contrasting with the airy feel of Zent were Worth’s darker offerings. The front half of the show consisted of layered looks, dramatic capes and shawls made complex with draping and knitwear (with an assist by Dylan Uscher of DylaniumKnits), completed with killer boots. The second half was more ready-to-wear, but still filled with energy: trousers with playful prints, asymmetrical jackets, and a harness-top with fringes. (Okay, the last element isn’t that ready-to-wear, but maybe it should be?)
The best part, however, may have been remixing the Zent and Worth lines in our head for fun: sheer tops layered with grey and black knitwear, paired with upper-thigh length shorts and sinister black boots. It’s easy to picture the more adventurous of Toronto’s dressers pulling these mashed-up looks off with aplomb, and we can only hope the rest of Toronto will slowly inch that way as well.
FAT, now in its seventh year, often showcases an eclectic mix of fashion, with some lines more akin to art on a body than fashion. While there’s always an abundance of ideas, this hasn’t always translated into great fashion: in the past there were shows that lacked editing and came off as amateurish. Sure, designers are free to create as they please, but there was a question of: is this the best that could be up there?
With the steady evolution away from its original identity as Toronto’s alternative fashion week, FAT has shifted to being a celebration of both art (with installations and film) and fashion: together but separate. The development is a good one. Zent and Worth are interesting on their own and, more importantly, could show at Toronto Fashion Week—but they shine within the artistic, less industry-driven nest of FAT. They aren’t the only ones. (The gorgeous corset work of another local designer, Starkers, for example, makes more sense at FAT than Fashion Week, but is fully polished.) It’s nothing but a win for Toronto to have both.
Photos by Jaime Woo/Torontoist.