Runway Giants

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[T]oronto Fashion Week is one of Canada’s biggest fashion events. Canadian designers from all over the country gather under the big white fashion tents at David Pecault Square and send their designs down the runway for the entire fashion world to see. This season, Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week showcased the work of some of Canada’s top designers such as Lucian Matis, Sunny Fong for VAWK, Cara Cheung, David Dixon, and Arthur Mendonça – all of whom learned the tricks of the trade in the very same classrooms some of us sit in every day. For those who are unfamiliar with work of these talented fashion alumni from the Ryerson School of Fashion, here are reviews of the Fall/Winter 2012 collections everyone is talking about.

Photo provided by Dress to Kill.

Monday: Lucian Matis

Toronto Fashion Week started off with a bang of glamour and luxury on Monday March 12 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel where Lucian Matis showed his F/W 2012 Collection. Matis showed his dark, elegant yet edgy collection of evening wear in one of the hotel’s ornate Victorian ballrooms. The collection, which consisted mostly of black gowns, featured dense handwoven lace, feathers, sheer mesh and nude underlay. Entitled Nature’s Art in Symmetry, the designer’s romantic designs were inspired by the beauty of nature. The dense lace effect, which appeared on full-length gowns and as detailing on almost every piece, was Matis’ hommage to the beauty and symmetry of butterfly wings. The highlight of the show was a floor-length lace gown with a plunging neckline and a dramatic thigh-high slit that evoked the very essence of ‘40s glamour and haute couture. There were also a number of sheerer garments that gave the collection an edgier aspect which mixed well with the elegance of the lace. Matis also showed a lot of dark green feathers. His collection included a full feathered dress with wing-like sleeves and ball gown with a black bustier top and full feather-covered skirt, both of which were impressive but rather costume. Overall, the Lucian Matis show was romantic, elegant and edgy and had the opulence of a show that could have taken place during Paris Haute Couture Week.

Photo provided by Dress to Kill.

Wednesday: Vawk

The Vawk F/W 2012 collection, entitled Sci-fi Samurai, was made up of Japanese-style structured blazers and dresses with kimono sleeves and straight samurai-esque lapels. These traditional designs, when mixed with fur trimmed leather biker jackets and gloves, wide copper leather belts, and copper sequins, gave the line a sci-fi biker chick feel. Having sleek japanese tailoring and biker pieces in the same collection was like a clash of two rather badass worlds. The collection was edgy – like a leather donned biker – but sophisticated and serious – like a samurai. The incorporation of copper sequins and wide copper leather belts gave the show the sci-fi aspect it was going for. Also, the leather caps the models were wearing echoed Sci-fi films like Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. VAWK designer Sunny Fong also showed a very Girl With the Dragon Tattoo-inspired silk black cutout dress with leather koi fish tattoo detailing – a perfect marriage of both themes. The tattoo detail was also incorporated in other looks like the samurai blazer, and tattoo sleeve gown.

Photo provided by Dress to Kill.

Wednesday: Cara Cheung

Cara Cheung brought a vibrant and youthful collection to the studio runway on day 3 of Toronto Fashion Week. The fall/winter 2012 line of super short, sparkling, body-hugging dresses were inspired by what Cheung referred to as a “clash between technology and nature.” The majority of the pieces were slightly futuristic with touches of geometric and architectural details like metallic embroidery, bedazzled crystal bodices, peplum waists, and wide pointed shoulders. Some of the structured, almost robotic, silhouettes were mixed with exotic prints in flowing chiffon, giving the line the technology-vs-nature aspect the designer was going for. There was a lot of stamped croc-skin leather in both black and metallic silver, as well as black patent leather, which gave the line a sexy dominatrix-esque edge. While the dark colour scheme was rather technology-influenced, pops of neon yellow and navy blue reminded the audience of the show’s call to nature and the label’s youthful vibrancy.

Photo provided by Dress to Kill.

Thursday: David Dixon

The David Dixon F/W 2012 runway show was like a night at the theatre. The show, entitled “The Birds”, opened with a montage from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960s horror film of the same name. David Dixon’s feathered feminine collection took to the runway on day four of Toronto Fashion Week and was very much ‘60s inspired. The collection consisted of elegant, form-fitting silhouettes in the shape of knee-length pencil skirts in black and white houndstooth, black petal chiffon, black feathers, and black sequins. There were also a lot of peplum-waisted silhouettes, mostly shown on white silk pencil dresses. Dixon also did the boxy ‘60s jacket in white wool over cigarette pants and pencil skirts. Since the show was called Birds, it did include a number of feathered garments. Dixon used a lot of dark feathers this season on long evening gowns, skirts, jackets, cocktail dresses and even showed a full feathered coat. There was also a hint of shiny teal in the collection to channel the shine

Photo provided by Dress to Kill.

Friday: Arthur Mendonça

The Arthur Mendonça F/W 2012 collection took to the runway on the final day of Fashion Week. With a line inspired by the 1960s housewife and Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Mendonça showed highly tailored garments pumped with sexy appeal and bright colours. The show opened with a shiny fuchsia patent leather rain jacket, which was highly feminine in colour but rather masculine in tailoring. The collection consisted of several menswear-inspired looks in a variety of pinks and neutrals. Mendonça paid homage to Kubrick by sending models down the runway in bowler hats and double-breasted trench coats. The designer also channeled the film’s sex appeal with bondage-like dresses with leather bodices, latex gloves, and lace stockings. The 1960s housewife aspect came through in the form of a fuchsia paisley print sheath dress, white silk pleated A-line dress, knee-length pencil dresses, and a wool draped dress in sea blue with a matching fur sash. In contrast with the edgier black and brown leather garments, Mendonça made sure to incorporate several bright colours into the line, such as an array of bright lace overlays in purple, pink, and yellow and a few vibrant blouses in neon and metallic baby blue.

Elayne Teixeira-Millar, Journalism ’14