For one week, twice a year, David Pecaut Square is leased from the self-important businessmen, benevolently confused tourists, and drunk white girls of King West to be transformed into a fashion mecca. Well, by Canadian standards, anyways. With the demises of both Montreal and Ottawa’s fashion weeks, Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week is the last of its kind on this side of the country that could be considered both major and mainstream.
That said, this autumn’s edition saw numerous catwalks with half-empty attendance and a fair amount of shows being held in the significantly smaller (read: hot and crammed) Studio space. While much of this can (and will) be blamed on earlier shows being difficult to fill, a poor economy, and the fact that audiences can now get the “fashion week experience” online, there are still some issues that need to be addressed. For instance, FAT (Fashion Art Toronto) is an annual exhibition of emerging and alternative designers that has seen increasing levels of press and attendance in recent years. It’s not an original thought to say that larger fashion brands are a dying breed, with the billion-dollar empires like Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren giving way to more niche independent labels. Much of this does have to do with changes in the retail scape and the fact that the internet has made these smaller brands more readily available and marketable — though one has to wonder what this means for huge shows like World MasterCard Fashion Week.
Many of the designers that show at David Pecaut Square cannot really be considered huge brands. While no longer emerging, most have not made it beyond boutiques or department stores in Canada’s larger cities. Perhaps with all the fuss of trying to make World MasterCard Fashion Week look like the fashion weeks of the United States or Europe (where there are more globally-recognized labels), we have built our own fashion week into something it is not. Yes, photographs of celebrities and glamorous parties are fabulous but really, let’s call it what it is. Most of our designers are struggling to make it and we’re all acting like we’re already “there.” Perhaps it’s time to break down the ivory tower of fashion and invite more emerging designers to join in the showcase, make the event more accessible to the general public, and stop patting the same people over and over again on the back. We don’t want to point any fingers but this year’s CAFA Awards are a good Exhibit A. Um, where was Rad Hourani on that list?
Anyways, moving on to the fluffy stuff. Highlights this year mostly came from American celebrities (cause that’s not typically Canadian or anything…), including Solange Knowles making a guest-DJ appearance at the Joe Fresh party, Minnie Mouse touring Toronto, and at least two cast members from this season of America’s Next Top Model. Another celebrity from below the 49th parallel, Gina Torres, walked in the fabulous Huntress show. The sole jewelry line to have a catwalk at World MasterCard Fashion Week, the stunning accessories collection featured stones from Travel Channel’s Gem Hunt International. FYI, Laurence Fishburne (a.k.a. Morpheus from The Matrix) was also present — along with bows, arrows, and Irish wolfhounds.
We love the amount of support that was given to emerging designers this year (though we would always love to see more), particularly through the Joe Fresh Fund, the Mercedes-Benz Start Up Awards (our full review can be seen here), and the Minnie Mouse-inspired design competition hosted by the Beckerman sisters — with the latter two events being won by Sid Neigum.
Stylistically, we were wowed three times by Neigum over the course of World MasterCard Fashion Week. First at his solo show, followed soon after by his MSBU presentation, and then with his Minnie Mouse entry. His designs are structural and beautifully constructed, with cutout shapes that are reminiscent of origami and sculpture. Also, we can’t say no to a largely monochromatic colour palette. He was definitely the big winner this week… literally. He won $32,500 in two days.
Favourite shows included Pink Tartan, Threshold with Som Kong and Rani Kim, and Matthew Gallagher. Big trends for spring 2015 were monochromatic (all black everything, all white everything, and everything in between), dyed leather, horizontal stripes, oxblood, blue, and orange. Also, there were many unusual materials weaseling their way into the mainstream including plastic, neoprene, and leather mesh.
Pink Tartan, as always, was sophisticated, effortless, and chic. Maybe I’m just a little obsessed with fringe after Sean from this season of Project Runway but Kim Newport incorporated it in a way that made the collection feel youthful and current. Also, she had a largely black and white aesthetic juxtaposed with some seriously psychedelic 70s-inspired patterns. She’s an experienced designer and it shows.
By contrast, the Threshold catwalk, featuring RANK by Rani Kim and Som Kong, was a dynamic showcase of two of the city’s brightest young stars. Kim’s presentation featured loose, unisex designs with heavy-handed 90s inspiration including geometric patterns, patent leather, and crop tops for both boys and girls. Also, she started off her show with a martial arts-style dance performance which was pretty rad. Som Kong’s show focused on his womenswear collection, featuring dramatic draping, sheer, satin, and his trademark pattern-making style. Also, Winnie Harlow from this season of America’s Next Top Model walked his runway. Nice to see a little love between these two Fashion Art Toronto alumni, non?
Matthew Gallagher was clearly a favourite among the media at the tents, rightfully so. His fairy tale-style show was largely comprised of high waistlines, beautiful construction, and unusual silhouettes. Stand-out pieces were the billowing sky-blue mini-dress, white short shorts, and a pleated ivory floor-length skirt that was reminiscent of an accordion… in a good way.
What were your thoughts on World MasterCard Fashion Week? Let us know in the comments section below or tweet us at @ViewTheVibe