Dinner Theatre: A look from Greta Constantine fall/winter 2013. Photos by George Pimentel.
Earlier this year, when the circus came to town, fashionphiles across the city seemed concerned at the prospect that designers Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong, the effervescent pals behind Greta Constantine, would eschew Toronto completely in favour of the duo’s newest aspirations: a Parisian debut. Last night, with fists freshly unclenched, a relief was felt as Pickersgill and Wong proved their hearts still belong to the 416 — and its socialites! — with the splashy, two-part presentation of their fall/winter 2013 offering. The first, an intimate, 80-person dinner at Parts & Labour, featured a full presentation of the label’s newest looks – a new vision, really – aimed mostly at top clients; the second, a late-into-the-night dance celebration at The Hoxton, featured a screening of a mini-documentary about their creative process. Director David Cronenberg muse Sarah Gadon! Holy club magnates! More Stolichnaya shots, shots, shots! Suzanne Rogers being photographed on the street in Parkdale!Designers Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong
Over the last half a decade, I’ve been to at least half a dozen Greta shows, and it’s always much of the same: distress among dresses, buzz among bloggers, a high alert for potential pandemonium. It’s never an easy thing to see one of Canada’s most discussed, most beloved collections. But, for once, how it all went down — from garments to guest lists — felt so easy and uninhibited — and just right. Season after season, off the official schedule and without much rhyme or reason, Pickersgill and Wong do exactly what they want, when they want, how they want — often at the price of angry tweets or fair weather fans. It’s a spectacle, sure, but a spectacle one has to bear witness to.
This time out — and I’m sure I’ve written this before, even though I only now believe it — Greta has never felt more, well, Greta. After deviating from the label’s jersey dress standards (early moneymakers when the label was founded in 2006) and sojourning in menswear, Pickersgill and Wong feel like they’re designing from such a place of assurance and experience that they’ve been able to evolve into now perfecting separates — jackets, pants — that work in their signature, billowing cuts. Last night was proof of what happens when one reaches the apex of a mountain like Paris: a palpable audaciousness and confidence. That translated into a stronger, streamlined look for a brand in flux that featured bright neon green working in tandem with bold reds and dusty cerulean. The scaled-back, slim dress constructs, especially a sobering ombre gown, show a penchant for global (business) domination emerging within the Greta family, helped by popular staples reimagined, like the little black dress with a big bateau neck. To contrast a vibrant colour palette came a parade of heavier fabrics more suited to the season: a pleated leather skirt, a long cow’s hide coat devours its slim, floor-grazing wide-leg white trousers. (Mad love for the jewellery by Dandi Maestre, too.)
Following the presentation, at the Stoli-soaked Hoxton, Pickersgill and Wong debuted a short documentary (below) about doing business and showing a collection in the fashion capital of the world for the first time, joining several of their Canadian contemporaries who almost exclusively divert efforts to such global operations. “You do things when you feel ready for them,” says Wong, admitting the accomplishment came later than planned. It begs the question that even a legacy label-in-the-making like this, a label known for sparking a local frenzy, can still mean very little beyond these city limits without the attention of brighter, bigger skylines. But I’d say Greta’s got it. Finally.