WMCFW: Days 3 & 5

DSC_0433 DSC_0438 DSC_0446On day 3 of World Mastercard Fashion Week, I checked out Mackage‘s Fall Winter 2015 collection. Having just attended the Marques’Almeida/TOME/Kaelen party at The Room, I was already a few wines deep and halfway to happytown. This turned out to be a good state to be in while attending a fashion show. Despite being underwhelmed with the predictable procession of outerwear, I still enjoyed myself immensely.

mackage-1 mackage-2 mackage-3Designers Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan have built a successful brand on a foundation of well-made but stylistically unremarkable coats. This is not a diss necessarily. As a commercial brand, the ability to move merchandise in large numbers should be top priority. And when it comes to coat-shopping, wearability and practicality are major determinant factors. For their Fall Winter 2015 collection, there were lots of motifs we’ve seen from past seasons in New York and Paris. Trends like fringe, shearling, and fur were all touched on. I was especially impressed with the quilted parka and trousers, which looked both cozy and stylish.

mackage-4 mackage-5 DSC_0511The Malorie Urbanovitch FW15 collection was a pleasant surprise. A new presence at the tents this year, Urbanovitch’s colourful, playful knits were a welcome respite from the monochrome/leather/eveningwear that seem to flood Toronto Fashion Week season after season. I liked the all over knit sets and obsessed over the orange suede skirt and turquoise coat & skirt set.

3.Paradis was also a new player at this season’s fashion week, and their brand of edgy menswear was appealing, albeit somewhat derivative. The leather bomber with white fur across the front was beautifully made, and the tailoring on the monochrome looks were impeccable. Where the collection faltered, in my opinion, were the striped ensembles. Done sparingly, it lent the garments a graphic pop of colour. But when applied all over, it felt cartoonish (and also UK flag-ish) in its execution. I also wasn’t a fan of the oxygen masks. Not only has this clinical accessory been used better many times before, its presence in the 3.Paradis show also felt like more of an afterthought. In press releases, designers Emeric Tchatchoua and Raymond Cheung talked about lab coats and dystopian hospitals as influences for their collection, so I get why the masks are there. I just wish they looked less slapped on and more integrated into the ensembles.

Click after the jump for photos from the Malorie Urbanovitch and 3.Paradis shows!

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Sid Neigum AW15 at WMCFW

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World Mastercard Fashion Week commenced yesterday in Toronto with a quiet shuffle. Much like the previous season, festival organizers scheduled current Canadian fashion wunderkind Sid Neigum right on day 1. Perhaps they thought it would be an auspicious beginning to an otherwise unpredictable week of shows. It’s not a bad strategy, had Neigum hit it out of the park. Unfortunately, for me, I found that to not really be the case.

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To be sure, the collection was pretty and featured monochrome garments that were (mostly) easy to wear. But, as the great Tyra Banks once said, resting on pretty is the kiss of death in fashion. For Sid’s AW15 collection, I found it too derivative of past concepts without showing anything particularly new. I get that Neigum was trying to explore his origami technique from past seasons more in depth for this season, creating new shapes and silhouettes. A few of the pieces that resulted from this deeper exploration were absolutely beautiful—the high-necked cream dresses with all-over folds and pleats were immaculate, as was the black jacket with a textured collar trim that resembled ostrich feathers.

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Aside from these standout pieces, everything else was either not particularly memorable or straight up unsuccessful. The garbage bag dresses at the end had a great starting concept, but at two feet away, did not look wholly finished or well executed. The neoprene vests and skirts, although very polished, looked nearly identical to pieces I’ve seen elsewhere or from his previous collections.

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Part of me couldn’t help but compare this post-Prize collection with Thomas Tait’s post-LVMH Prize collection in London last month (Sid Neigum was awarded the top prize at last season’s Mercedes Benz Start-up competition). Yes, I know that the two designers are worlds apart, but it also seems clear that Tait went against cliché, while Neigum kind of walked towards it. I missed the painstakingly-constructed textured coats and dramatic collars in his past seasons. I wanted him to work with “difficult” colours like terracotta and gold. Does the industry really need more asymmetrical mini dresses in black? What basic mentors of Canadian fashion are whispering in his ears to work with neoprene and laser cutting again, when every designer and their grandma have gone down these roads so many times before?

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Let it be known that I absolutely believe in the talent of Sid Neigum. His collections are what keeps me going back to Toronto Fashion Week. I think he has inventive techniques and a thirst for the weird, which seems truly rare here in Canada. It is my hope that this was just a misstep that, perhaps, some time away from the conservative industry gatekeepers can rectify. Only time will tell.

DSC_0360Thinking about the future of Canadian fashion in my Oak + Fort dress, chunky Zara brogues, and vintage leather backpack.

Click here for more photos from the collection.

All images by The Pack

The Collections: AW15 Preview

DSC_0192 I absolutely loved the location of the presentation and the light fixtures.

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from left to right: Helder Diego, Malorie Urbanovitch, 111 by Parloque, Mikael D, Klaxon Howl, Triarchy

DSC_0227 DSC_0226 DSC_0248 DSC_0231 Untitled-4 DSC_0238 DSC_0239Hanging with Amrita Gill of Parloque and my lady pals in accidental matching outfits.
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On Monday night I attended the Fall Winter 2015 media preview for The Collections‘ Made In Canada roster of designers, who will later show their complete collections during the World Mastercard Fashion Week here in Toronto. Clad in a few of my current favourites—a vintage suede coat, a denim skirt, chunky Disco Stu shoes, and a black turtleneck—I felt ready to view some fresh talent and drink some free wine.

The six Canadian designers—111 by Parloque, Helder Diego, Triarchy, Mikael D, Klaxon Howl and Malorie Urbanovitch—selected one ensemble each to present to members of the media, and right away I had a clear favourite. Having been a long time fan of Parloque, I wasn’t surprised. Head designer of 111 and owner of Parloque, Amrita Gill, has always had an eye for bold design and unisex streetwear. Parloque is one of the only boutiques in Toronto that carries local and international designs by KYE, Willis Chan, Soulland, and SAMO (formerly Malmo London). So I was quite pleased to see that she designs her own line as well. Everything from the dramatic black coat, to the grey hair and intricate eye makeup, to those perfect white heels by KYE worked. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the collections look like in a few weeks! Stay tuned.

I’m wearing vintage suede coat and bambo bag from Odd Finds General Store, denim skirt from H&M Trend, turtleneck by Uniqlo, and chunky derbies by Zara.

All images by The Pack

Rank by Rani Kim

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finalrank4 finalrank2finalrank3finalrank5South Korean-raised and Ryerson U graduate Rani Kim showed one of my favourite collections from the recent World Mastercard Fashion Week here in Toronto. While most designers opted for familiar trends like all white and fringe, Kim approached her collection from a less predictable and more playful angle, using graphic prints of geometric shapes and sourcing materials in earthy neutrals and steely blues. Smooth, matte silks were juxtaposed with coated nylon that packed a lot of shine. Models kept it unfussy and wore unisex Korean rubber shoes (called gomushin).

Of course, like a lot of garments I’m drawn to these days, a number of pieces from Rani’s collection featured mesh sheaths, but in ways I didn’t always expect. Rather than worn alone with plenty of fearless nipple action, Rani layered them on top of other fabrics in order to create the look of a whole new material. The result is fun, maybe a little crafty, but always eye-catching. I like how the overall vibe of her SS15 is part tribal (because of the olives and browns), part futuristic fantasy (because of the textures and prints). The clothes have an easygoing, undone quality to them, like something you’d wear while planting trees or lounging on your couch. Kim was motivated to make clothes she can bike in, which excited me way too much, as a daily commuter cyclist.

Kim currently works full time as a production design assistant at Joe Fresh and prouces her own garments in her free time. Her background in menswear, her time spent working under Jeremy Laing and Astrid Andersen, have all influenced her tremendously to become one of a handful of working Canadian designers making utilitarian, androgynous clothes that also pack a lot of interesting design. I tend to bemoan a lot of big names in Canadian fashion as dull and uninspired. Here’s hoping that Kim quits her day job soon to focus on her own work, without ditching our cold and, at times, creatively stunted city.

Images vis rankbyranikim.com

WMCFW: Day 4

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5cWearing Zara derbies and chiffon knit, vintage suede skirt and coat.
Images by me

Guys, going to fashion shows everyday after work is hard. I know I know. #firstworldproblems. But something about the insane crowds, the endless product pushing, the photographers, trying to pick a new outfit every morning that’s me but also practical and stylish, etc. It’s enough to make me feel like a very cranky fish out of water.

By day 4, a big part of me was ready to GTFO, preferably to my bed. Boy am I glad I stuck around for what I saw at Maison Matthew Gallagher. Set against a dreamy backdrop of soft pink screen and manicured garden hedges, Gallagher’s SS15 collection was the perfect palate cleanser to cap my hectic week of shows, half of which weren’t even worth writing about (*shots fired*).

The show began as an image of a black rose bloomed on screen. Admittedly, taking inspiration from spring awakenings and “new beginnings” is a little expected for a spring summer collection. But, I’m of the opinion that the inspiration behind a piece of work matters very little—it’s where you go from its starting point that means so much more. Drawing from a palette of grey, cream, and pastels, the overall look of the collection is classic and feminine without being too sugary (although the mint coloured teared dress is definitely high on the glycemic index). The dramatic peach maxi skirt in satin paired with a black T (the 6th photo from the top) recalled one of my favourite runway shows everJil Sander’s SS11 collection under the creative direction of Raf Simons, a.k.a. Fashion God. And there are strong notes of Lanvin in there as well. See: those perfect mint shorts.

Fashion, like music and art and film, is undoubtedly referential. And copycats proliferate in both mass market and high end luxury retail. Derivative as some of these looks might have been, the impeccable craftsmanship and elegant simplicity of the pieces more than convinced me. I especially loved the floor length pink coat (5th photo) that was cut like a graduation gown. The inspiration is apt. Graduation itself is the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next, and Gallagher took this idea and ran with it, applying it to a pristine ivory dress too (top photo).

Click after the jump for a closer, higher quality look (sorry for the phone camera pics guys….) at the collection!

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WMCFW: Days 2 & 3

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left to right: my well-dressed squad; the mood and music at Target
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the big finish at Target
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day 2: I wore a vintage denim uniform jacket and vintage suede skirt, with a top by Topshop and sneakers by Zara
day 3: I wore my Calvin Klein bralet with culottes by Topshop and a vintage top

Day 2 of Toronto Fashion Week was decidedly underwhelming. Although the mood at Target was exuberant and the room abuzz with happy chatter, I couldn’t quite muster the excitement for a collection that lacked the innovation and luxury I’ve come to expect from ready to wear runway shows. Yes, I understand it’s Target and it’s meant to be super wearable for the entire family, even grandma. But you wouldn’t go to NYFW to watch an Old Navy show, why would you do this?

There is a very nagging sense in Canada that designers who are groundbreaking don’t stick around or they call it quits. This is mostly true. Just look at Jeremy Laing, CallaKaelen, Steven Tai, Erdem, Thomas Tait, the list goes on. I do believe that a huge part of the reason is that the high end market, by way of consumer demand, has not always encouraged thinking outside of the box. You need not look any further than the clothes the wealthy elites of Toronto prefer to wear to fashion events, or chat with fashion buyers about how hard it is to move garments by fashion forward brands like Jacquemus and J. W. Anderson in Toronto. Not to say that there aren’t Torontonians with a taste for the weird—if that were the case this blog wouldn’t exist. But the Venn diagram of Torontonians with money and Torontonians with a taste for the avant garde would probably look like two circles, barely grazing each other’s sides.

That’s why design competitions and grants for young designers are so important. I was surprised to learn that this year was the first time that the Mercedes Star-up Design show actually awarded a cash prize. But of course also very happy that things are slowly changing. It would be devastating to the future of Canadian fashion if we continue to lose innovative designers like Sid Neigum and Thomas Balint to New York, London, or Paris. This made Sid Neigum’s win even sweeter this past Monday.

Click after the jump for two other collections I saw during days 2 and 3 of WMCFW that impressed.

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World Mastercard Fashion Week: Day 1

sidNICO1575_osidfashion_toronto_sid_neigum_20141020_34772517As a tried and true member of The Pack, I love nothing more than showing love to emerging designers. Even better if they’re home-grown. And so it was with great joy to embark on day 1 of World Mastercard Fashion Week, seeing everything that this city had to offer in terms of fresh talent and innovative design.

Appropriately enough, my first show of the week was the Mercedes Benz Start-up show. Half runway show, half design competition (kind of like our very own Project Runway!), the program provides a national platform to discover and support emerging Canadian fashion designers. Winners gain access to to fashion business experts that help build their business through mentorship, a fully produced runway show during Toronto Fashion Week next March, an editorial spread in Fashion magazine, well as a $30,000 bursary to give them that extra financial push. This year’s entries include Alberta-born Sid Neigum, whose designs can be seen in the above photos, Eliza Faulkner, BLAK.I, Vaiken, Laura Siegel, and Toronto Fashion Week mainstay Beaufille 

Sid Neigum’s intricate origami textures and avant garde silhouettes earned him the top prize at this year’s competition. Having watched him grow for the past few seasons, I was happy with the panel’s decision. Although I was a much bigger fan of his previous collection, there’s no denying the beauty of the painstakingly woven pieces seen above. What makes Neigum especially deserving of the award is his refreshingly anti-trend and sculptural take on ready-to-wear. Beaufille was another label that impressed me with its SS15 runway looks, and you can see more of them, as well as a few other collections after the jump.

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Sid Neigum AW14

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Sid Neigum on the inspiration behind his AW14 collection for Toronto Fashion Week:

 “The collection was inspired by packaging design. From a technical standpoint, the mission for this collection was to make garments out of one piece of fabric and have it fold, wrap and twist in such a way that it creates a complete piece. The body became the object and the garment became the packaging. I started by stripping the garment construction down – eliminating anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. The result is a 2 dimensional form which is then laser cut, folded and wrapped to create the piece.”

I was fortunate to experience Sid Neigum’s AW14 collection in person today at David Pecault Square. Set to eerie Hitchcockian strings, the show was an intriguing start to this year’s World Mastercard Fashion Week. Featuring some stunningly architectural looks and some drapier pieces that were less flattering, the collection was strongest when the garment floated around the model’s bodies, barely hugging her limbs and giving them plenty of room to breathe. The shape of these cocoon layers combined with the stiff high necks gave the models a don’t-fuck-with-me stateliness that was very badass Queen, very Maleficent. Come to think of it, with all the crucifix keyholes, terracotta hues, and tattered hems that resembled mini peasant robes (not to mention the full gold get-up), this was a collection that seemed deeply rooted in antiquity.

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The ShOws AW14 – Day 2

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Day 2 of the shOws featured some very unwelcomed guests: buckets upon buckets of snow. “Lousy Smarch weather“, as they say. Dedicated showgoers like myself trudged on regardless, dead-set on seeing some fresh Canadian talent and maybe scope out some well-dressed model babes. Not everyone felt the same, judging by the noticeably sparse studio space. This bode well for me and my reliably crappy camera phone, as I snapped an endless succession of blurry-faced but impeccably-dressed beauties, my line of sight unobstructed by stray sock buns or fashionably large hats.

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The ShOws AW14 – Day 1

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The concept of the shOws—to give young emerging designers without the capital to show at World Mastercard Fashion Week the opportunity to present to industry insiders—is very near and dear to us here at The Pack. As a group of fashion writers and enthusiasts, The Pack has always been more interested in the unconventional, envelope-pushing peripheries of fashion. And any fashion show producer that gives fresh new talents the chance to show their collections to fashion journalists, bloggers, buyers, and stylists completely free of charge is pretty much a hero to us.

Since the program’s inception in 2011, Paola Fullerton, the producer behind the shOws, has shown young designers like Jeremy Laing and Mark Fast. Both have since experienced tremendous success here in Canada and in the international fashion world. This year, the designers showcasing their AW14 collections are also Canadian bred and internationally endorsed.

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