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October 30, 2014
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How Not to Talk at Toronto Fashion Week
Kevin Naulls learns the language at David Pecaut Square

Image: Style Democracy
 
Friday was the last day of Toronto Fashion Week, a now well-oiled machine that brings together consumers, creatives, writers, enthusiastic bloggers, and bloggers who complain about the fall of “real journalism.” The language of fashion is itself worth evaluating, whether it is a person instructing someone to “rock” an “ensemble” in their writing or a former fashion matriarch (Robin Kay) discussing the divide between “hot emerge and cool emerge,” an expression that I have never uttered or heard and I am 27-years-old.  
 
Robin Kay, former head of Toronto Fashion Week, sat at the Caitlin Power show with The Collections‘ Brian A. Richards, discussing the plight of young designers, and how they are oft “too safe”–she then spends several minutes remarking how young designers need to “take more risks.” Then Kay’s friend arrives, takes a seat, and in being introduced to Richards, learns that “there are two types of fashion: hot emerge and cool emerge, and Brian deals with hot emerge.” Designers, take note, if your show is not produced by The Collections, you may not be hotly emerging, but you could be cooly emerging or not emerge at all. It is interesting that a woman whose career it was to sponsor and build Canadian designers has strict arbitrary divisions when it comes to their careers. One day you’re in, and the next day out (or never in at all, always out). It feels like Kay has probably had a lot of time to catch up on Project Runway reruns.
 
But she isn’t the only one who has subscribed to le langue couture. A common phrase heard at the tents is “I’m late and need a seat.” If you are late and do not have a seat, it is your fault. Yet this blame is often put on the PR girls who work the event, who stand and take it as people insult or yell at them for their own late arrival. In fashion world, people often only see what is impacting them. The runway room could be fading to black, with everyone in their seats, yet a person arriving late will only see the ticket in their hand, and their butt not in a seat. 
 
This of course leads to another popular expression: “I RSVPd.” By responding to an e-mail, an e-mail sent to about 1000 other people, an attendee can feel like the only boy or girl in the room. Michelle D’Souza, “a friend of [Stephen Caras],” is the perfect example of this from Friday night, who not only showed up with a guest moments before the beginning of the Caras show, but stood like a deer-in-the-headlights, unable to comprehend why the show was about to start and why she wasn’t in the seats her RSVP had secured her. One seat was available, but D’Souza said “we need two,” a demand she made while the show was seconds from starting, with the quite clear reality that it was the only seat available. The seat was next to me. D’Souza walked by, the smell of Chanel Allure forming a mushroom cloud before us, and I would re-encounter the smell for the duration of the Caras show, as it seems she doused herself in it, and brushed it through her hair. 
 
As I sat, catching D’Souza’s fragrant hair in my face every time she flipped it, I pondered the realities of where I was. I am sitting in an environment where people can’t see what they look like. A place where people don’t even look at the clothes before them half the time unless it is through a cell phone. A place where so much is going on, but no one seems to be appreciating it. Yet by constructing a language unseen outside of the boundaries of Toronto Fashion Week, people are able to be despondent, act like monsters, overlook basic rules of decorum, and feel a tier above the event organizers who brought them there in the first place. 
 
Toronto Fashion Week’s 1000 words painted a picture of entitlement–of a growing economy, inclusive of people who only see their names in lights. 

____

Kevin Naulls is a Toronto-based writer and former editor of The Goods and The Hype at Torontolife.com. Follow him on Twitter @kevinjn.

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