Every year, Toronto Fashion Incubator runs a competition for the most promising young designers in Canada. The contestants are run through a series of judging panels over the course of six months, culminating in a runway show at the ELLE show. This year, sponsor Mattel heated up the competition by putting real money on it, a cash prize – $10,000 – amazing!
Anastasia Lomonova brought the drama with some really lavish dresses. Anastasia was a classmate of mine for a couple years at Ryerson before taking off to Montreal and launching her label. Lots of texture and style – sometimes piled on, sometimes a lighter touch. Its so neat to see someone’s style developed so far beyond fashion school.
House of Groves was leather, studs and riding crops, but the crowd really applauded when the full-skirted silhouette (lower right) came out – it seems like after so much tight and short, a great full skirt falling below the knee just feels like a breath of fresh air.
Diepo is lingerie transitioning towards cocktail – sort of night-to-later-that-night. The runway was white and slick and all of the designers sent their models out in treacherous heels – so that all came to a head with the model on the lower-right – as she walked out her shoes seemed to literally fly off her feet and skid off both sides of the runway – you can see a gentleman picking it up in the background. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Birds of North America brought the closest thing to colour that we saw that night – dusky navy blue, brown and burgundy. The style of the dresses was more of the twee stuff that usually comes down New Labels runway in years past as opposed to the dominant theme of tough-sexy stuff we see this year. Maybe this shift in style is reflecting changes in the judging panel this year. I often wonder, watching New Labels, whether the lengthy, involved judging process is a good thing – it seems to result in a certain homogenization among the contestants – or are our most promising Canadian designers really so alike? The lack of statement colour on the runway was a bit disappointing – are we afraid of colour?
Paris Li‘s collection showed some sharp tailoring and some pretty sophisticated looks that suggest dressing for success. Over all, all of the designers showed really chic, wearable designs – and perhaps the similarities make it a bit fairer to judge each designer against the other – but then again, at the end of the show, I couldn’t really think of which designer had really raised the bar. It reminded me a bit of the Press Breakfast at Holt Renfrew recently which was similar in the monotony of hues. When so much about fashion is personality, I wonder why designers don’t try more aggressively to differentiate themselves from one another. Or are the designer really just catering their wares to the tastes of their curators? Either way, it leaves me with a taste for something more.
Lastly, each designer showed a few LBD looks made especially for their sponsor, Barbie. These were all fun looks and here at least, all the blackness was part of the brief.
Anastasia Lomonova, House of Groves, Diepo, Birds of North America, Paris Li.