Toronto isn't exactly a world capital of fashion, but it is the capital of Ontario province, which means that if you're a talented designer from the Great White North on your way to New York, somewhere along the way you probably stopped off here. This survey of the best of the recent Toronto Fashion Week is thus a story of would-be top talent, and it's largely a matter of skipping the officially sponsored tents entirely, navigating too-tight-to-breathe presentations spaces and dimly lit parties. The official schedule turned out to a disjointed three-day affair this season, and so the city's brightest young designers threw their hands up in revolt, with three weeks of offsite events that concluded with a particularly rowdy (partly due to a drought of PBR) houseparty at the gallery Ourspace, hosted by blogger-cum-local hero Tommy Ton and DJed (kinda) by Agyness Deyn.
But first, the clothes: Former costume designer Philip Sparks kicked off the week with his seventh season of nostalgically Canadian bespoke tailored menswear. Sparks cast brawny models in the roles of Captain Ahab (peg-leg-less, alas) and Ishmael, and they stood alongside a makeshift loading dock of wood carts, ladders and rope. The Moby Dick-inspired collection featured darkly hued pipe-edged outerwear, tweed suiting and long johns. The looks were boxy-topped and slim bottomed, the classic yet viable silhouette would fiend off that great white whale on many a modern day Gregory Peck.
LOOKS FROM EZRA + GRETA CONSTANTINE
Greta Constantine's fall collection took over a megawatt runway in the basement of a downtown Audi dealership. Not as unlikely a setting as it might seem for designers Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong, who are not afraid of excess, even in a small city. The film noir-inspired collection was swathed in the duo's signature jersey, strategically placed fur, blue-sheen and accessorized in geometric plexiglass. Greta's brother label, Ezra Constantine, on the other hand, was a deliberately dishevelled and bloody (literally) affair of military hoodies, zipped motorcycle jackets and overcoats, multi-pocketed cargo pants and combat boots.
STILL FROM PINK COBRA'S FALL 2010 FILM
Co-owners of Toronto's cool boutique Carte Blanche, Dan Augustino and Tania Martins, laid out a battle of the sexes with the debut of their Fall collections in video form during an abandoned loft style gallery party. A first for Augustino and his design partner Corey Gibbs, Cult de Laissez Faire's debut (left) was all about toughed up black zippy jackets and vests, low-crotched boxer pants and thin hooded knitwear which was shown in their frenetically hologram-style video. In her sixth season of sexy LBDs, Martins' video for her line Pink Cobra, Maneater, was a vision of the designer herself: lips, cigs and sex appeal, directed by Derek Blais and Carly Bangs. The rest of the collection, which naturally fairs more versatile than the one-outfit video, is a mix of see-through body-con and oversized androgyny... just what the skinny P.Y.T.s ordered.
MIKHAEL KALE; RITA LIEFHEBBER, PHOTO BY STEFANIA YARHI
Proving that the word "showstopper" doesn't automatically translate to "overdone," Mikhael Kale showed his sixth collection of well, show-stopping numbers to an un-Toronto members-only crowd. Crazily festooned and mini-pleated cocktail dresses in black and silver were cleverly layered underneath fluidly structured overcoats. A reptilian pantsuit cut way low at the bust was the standout number of the night. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Rita Liefhebber brought her first New York presentation on back home as she opened a 26-foot truck in front of the Hoof Café, one of the city's hottest spots to eat meat. Inside the truck, were models arranged among wrapped mini-mannequins made from recycled dry cleaner bags. The collection included on-trend leather and knit leggings, reversible wool and mohair coats and coated stretch velvet skirts.