It’s difficult to imagine flouncing around in spring clothing during a hurricane warning. As I made my way towards David Pecaut Square, umbrella in tow, I could only long for cozy fur jackets and loads of layers. But upon entering the tents at World MasterCard Fashion Week, the rain became a distant memory and I was plunged into a world of the extravagant.
Like my fellow fashion lovers, I was quick to judge those around me: a heinous cropped tweed jacket there and a cheap pair of Jeffrey Campbells here; I couldn’t help from wincing. However, after passing through the velvet ropes with my very first fashion show ticket clenched between anxious fingers, I became overwhelmingly humble and in awe of the people around me. I decided right then and there to bring myself above the drama and to remember that, while full of try-too-hards, has-beens, and wannabes (myself included), the crowd at fashion week – like geeks at a Con or hippies at Burning Man – have all come together for the same reason: to take part in the art of fashion.
Art was on the forefront of designers José Manuel St-Jacques and Simon Bélanger’s UNTTLD runway. Using only three fabrics–rayon, silk and leather–and inspired by Haiku and Kabuki theatre, the designers created modern pieces that were infused with traditional East Asian flare. However, I couldn’t help but notice that the designers’ opening video featured a white woman, donning a copper kimono while heavy drum beats composed the soundtrack to her turmoil. The film itself was a complete work of art; juxtaposing the copper colour of power and white light with overpowering swathes of black that consume the woman in the end.
The runway was illuminated as the opening model, of East Asian descent, stepped out in a sheer black maxi dress and an enormous black cape. Made of pleated silk, the cape and the following two draped ensembles were bulky and stiff, yet flowed with the elegance of silk. Black continued to dominate the runway in the form of sheer crepe, elongated sleeves, deep slit necklines and crinkled leather, all with a modernized oriental flare.
A dark green colour was added to the mix and along with it came more structured pieces including jackets, vests, micro shorts, and miniskirts.
The green pieces were mostly a letdown to the collection. The black leather accents and exposed zippers looked cheap rather than classy and the tiny shorts and skirts only work on slim model bodies.
White made a welcome appearance bringing back flowy tops and one of my favourite looks: a cropped wrap jacket that resembled a karate uniform for the painfully chic.
Metallic copper made its first appearance at the base of a creped maxi dress, and then on a top as my very favourite look hit the runway. As the final look, a full pleated copper dress, swooshed down the runway and even tripped up the model, the collection came full circle by emerging from the darkness and into the light; a true work of art.
Makeup and accessories strengthened the designers’ masterpiece. Nails were painted silver with a few long talons attached to each hand. Hair was slicked back and pinned down in a fancy ponytail. Atop their heads, models wore geometric shapes that resembled modern origami art.
Dark matte lips and brows added drama to otherwise nude faces. Eyes were downplayed, given only a smudge of white eyeliner for highlights. Inversely, the makeup for the Montreal showing of the same line played up the eyes with exaggerated black liner and a glossed, nude lip. Frankly, I’m glad they made the switch.
As a whole, the collection worked as a piece of art– though it makes me wonder if, as artists, the designers’ constraints on fabric selection and inspiration affected the overall outcome of the individual pieces. Neverless, in the end, the collection was composed of creative, interesting and wearable pieces that could very well be seen on the red carpet.
All images by George Pimentel
This post was sponsored by Stoneleigh wines. Please enjoy our products responsibly.
Mollie Paige writes for the Toronto Standard. You can follow her on twitter @MolliePB