ultimate platinum redux

Ultimate Platinum was a lot of fun! I brought my friend Christy and we enjoyed dressing up, trying out a bunch of French Wines, catching up with friends, and meeting new people.

My fellow fashion bloggers were there to observe and dish to the digital set – Sonja and Rachel from torontostreetfashion.com were taking pictures of all the people in their pretty Canadian designer dresses. Anita from I want – I got and I amused eachother with runway play-by-play. Carolyn was there too but she was working – co-ordinating the volunteers with military precision. The event was well organized – of course.

There were a lot of Canadian media and celebrities, many were modeling gunmetal/platinum coloured creations by Canadian designers. My favourite dress was by Katya Revenko, worn by Fefe Dobson. Seeing Fefe strut down the runway made me a fan of hers though I’m not that familiar with her music. I just like how she’s got a cocky attitude and a room-filling personality. Go Fefe!

The main event was the New Labels Competition, with four competitors showing capsule collections, competing for a $25000 award from Elle Canada.

There really isn’t enough cockiness in Canadian fashion to make for a thrilling runway show. Though a lot of the clothing would look fabulous in a showroom or a boutique, the designs were for the most part too subtle to create drama on the runway. I was surprised to discover that the judging was done onsite based on the runway show, and I think the format skewed the judging.
Edit: I have been corrected of my assumption. The judges actually participated throughout the design process which makes the rest of this post redundant.

Three of the four collections chose a limited palette of neutrals or neutral with a single punch colour. This is a wise choice for an initial collection to my mind. Limiting the fabrics and colours make logistical things like meeting fabric minimums and replacing fabrics that become unavailable much easier – important for the designer to make delivery and stay in business.

The exception last night was Quelques Filles by Sarah Nicol and Kelly Dowdall. Choosing the theme “a victorian love tragedy” they went over the top with lace, mixed velvets, and jewel-tone colours. Poofy velvet tops over shiny brocade skirts is not my cup of tea but what do I know. It was entertaining.

I was ready to place my bet at the end of the show. Ozen by Pheobe Gao and Enfys Zhou was without a doubt the strongest collection in my opinion. The theme “haunted melody” evoked a well-dressed symphony orchestra. The layering was proportionally exciting, the story was tight, and the garments were well executed. The designs were strong and inventive but also subtle and wearable. Out of all the collections Ozen was the desireable one – justifying a designer pricepoint.

As you can probably guess Ozen didn’t get the award. Quelques Filles won the night. It almost seems like they were chosen because out of the four collections shown, they were the most different and therefore more obviously memorable. Which might tell me something about positioning an entry in a competition. But perhaps it really is just a matter of taste.

Judging isn’t an easy job, and I admire all of the judges who had to make a difficult choice between four promising entries. I’m sure consensus did not come easily. Especially considering the time pressure and only having the basis of a brief runway show to judge the best designer. I often talk about how runway shows don’t serve new designers well. Ozen being overlooked demonstrates how the fashion show medium can obscure the qualities of good, if quiet, design.

Overall it was a great night and I had an excellent time. Thank you to everyone at the Toronto Fashion Incubator!

14 thoughts on “ultimate platinum redux”

  1. Hey Danielle:

    Glad you had a good time! Just to let you know, the judges were involved with the competition from the start, so the decision was not based solely on the one runway show. But you’re right about how runway shows don’t often serve new designers well. That’s why this competition is great: it offers new designers the chance to learn about how to maximize a runway show experience. Hope to see you at the New Labels show next year, and maybe as a contestant some time…

  2. Ah, interesting. I’m glad the judging wasn’t just based on the runway show as I thought, I really think that runway shows don’t give the best picture of a line.

    I was going through the materials in the gift bag (I think it was a hit bag) and noticed that Ozen didn’t even have contact info on their promo piece, why?? They didn’t have a website either. So even though I liked their designs they don’t seem to have it together on the communications side which if I was a judge would be an important consideration.

    Just goes to show that it’s not just about the show – I think I just did what I was arguing against but at least I proved my point. =P
    I will be back at New Labels next year I hope, but as a contestant…. uh… it’s unlikely

  3. I find it funny how someone with such a clearly small knowledge of fashion (hence the knee high socks and hideous shoes) can make such judgements on the TFI New Labels fashion show. Perhaps you should research before commenting.. as you clearly have an eye problem.

  4. I am duly admonished for expressing my opinions on the internet. Thank you for expressing yours Jaleen.

    I’m quite sure I don’t have my act as together as well as any of the entrants who should all be commended for the great deal of work and passion they put into their lines! Rereading my article I realize I should have said something about that. The article was actually quite snarkier in the first iteration (perhaps the slight hangover had to do with it, I guess I deserved the BUI ticket).

    The rest is, as you point out, the ramblings of someone in silly clothes. I like my shoes and socks. My criticism was based on my own subjective opinion.

    It being the internet and all, I invite all of you to share your subjective opinions or correct me factually when I am wrong.


    Velvet top with Velour/Lace skirt by Quelques Filles

    Photo via http://www.torontostreetfashion.com/

  5. Hi Danielle,
    As a fashion designer yourself, with studied knowledge of design, color theory, proportion and textiles, I love hearing your judgements and ‘fashion’ opinions! (I wouldn’t apologize)

  6. Thanks Rachel I wouldn’t apologise either.

    If you come to my blog, you’re going to get my opinion.

    The photo above is an outfit which kind of epitomizes the subjective reasons why I didn’t care for the QF collection. Again, this is a matter of taste so don’t take it personally.

    1. I really can’t handle 2 kinds of plush fabrics in an outfit. This puts a whole new meaning to “pile it on” (pun intended for fabric nerds only). I think Galliano may be able to pull it off but he would have used 10 kinds of pile fabrics.

    2 The proportions are not visually interesting to me. The skirt is in the neither knee-length-or-short category which combined with a jacket at your standard bodice-block hip level I find to be to be too expected, not designed. These proportions look timid to me. This may be a styling problem but if this was conceived of as a full outfit, I don’t get it.

    3. I don’t understand the collar. I can’t imagine it on a wealthy, designer-clothing-buying person unless they were an exception. I can’t see the market for this, please help me.

    As you can probably tell I tend towards a more minimal taste and I love the simplicity and subtlety that is usually typical of Canadian design, even if others find it boring.

    Again, it’s all just opinion, and since it’s my website, if you come here you get to read my opinions. Perhaps the designers want to comment on how this outfit was conceived and styled?  I know there’s at least one of judges reading this – what went on behind the velvet curtains? I’m ready to be contradicted or corrected as long as we can keep it civil.


  7. Holy moly that was harsh! I would like to know how much “fashion knowledge” Jaleen has… Obviously she has absolutely no tact.

  8. for me, i think it is more that the (obnoxiously plush) jacket does not seem to fit the model correctly… she looks like she is wearing her slightly-less thin cousin’s velour shirt, and that she has cinched it with a giant gold belt in an attempt to make her waist look small.

    like you said, it might be a styling problem, but if i were a designer, i would try to have some control over the styling of my garments at a show.

    and ps, jaleen, i dont wear knee high socks with my sandals, but only because i cant pull it off like danielle can.

  9. Hm Joi I wonder where the side seams are.

    two more little things that I don’t get about this outfit-
    4. why is the hem so uneven? I hope it’s just the model’s pose, but her contraposto is not that deep. That dip and the variability between the tiers doesn’t look intentional.
    5. The silhoutte is full-batwing-velvet-top over full-velour-skirt. Pondering this in my sleep suggests that a plush top and bottom could possibly go together if the volumes weren’t so similarly full. Again it begs the question, was it designed as a full outfit?

    Personally I have a fascination with how people subjectively define good design. I’d be very interested to read the rationale of others on why they love designs that I don’t.

    Also, here is judge Nathalie Atkinson explaining how the judging worked in her article:

    But, for the TFI New Labels finalists, the runway show was the culmination of six gruelling months of sketching, cutting and sewing. The competition began for them back in the fall with the submission of sketches, storyboards and a portfolio, and continued throughout the winter with frequent judging sessions. New Labels judges Rita Silvan, editorin- chief of Elle Canada, fashion designer (and TFI alum) David Dixon, Arie Assaraf, owner of TNT boutiques in Toronto, and yours truly reviewed samples, evaluated designs and provided constructive criticism in each elimination round, until only the night’s four finalists remained.

    Congratulations are in order for all the finalists. A lot more happened behind the scenes than I will ever know.

    edit March 21

    From TorontoStreetFashion.com

    Lots of anonymous comments, wow.

    My response –

    I guess the important thing is that it gets us talking about Canadian fashion identity and generates some truly passionate discussion.

    I think there are bright futures out there for all of the contestants and for Canadian fashion in general, and much in thanks to the TFI.

    I sincerely hope to see all four of these designer’s clothing in boutiques and in street fashion photos. All four of these designers are ready to sell so let’s get people talking and buyers buying.

    The Market will be the ultimate determination of who the successful designers are. There’s runway and then… there’s reality.

    So keep the discussion going, Canadian fashionistas put your money where your mouth is and buy Canadian designers, and spread the word. The Canadian designer’s biggest handicap is PR and we as bloggers and commenters have the power to change that.

    So have at it! We don’t all have to agree, but we can all fashion Toronto’s scene together.

  10. If the Filles are here… I was a little snarky, I admit it. I felt bad when I realized you probably are reading this and not enjoying it.

    I’ve been known to be wrong, have my mind changed, and I’ve done poor designs and botched executions and been criticized. I’ve done my fair share of critical reviews of designers both new and old and sometimes legendary (YSL, are you reading?) I am a fashion nerd and my ideas aren’t always popular.

    So to answer “who am I to say”, the answer is I’m just a fashion blogger.

  11. Just to add to the list of things that people don’t like about this outfit. (man, I hope those winners aren’t reading this, it must not feel too good – but hey, they won right? They can handle a little feedback. Maybe it will make their designs better in the future)

    I’m surprised no one’s mentioned the colours… on their own, neither of them are that bad. But paired together, they make me think of furniture… there isnt’ a punch colour, they are both too dull and the belt doesn’t stand out either. Maybe in another colour I would like this outfit better?

  12. I agree – I liked the quelque filles collection; the innovation, color and dramatics. There were however a few very not-so-great pieces. The skirt and jacket in this picture and most of the leather items to name a few. As well, some of the brocade seemed a little amateurish…They did put on the best show though AND sparked the most interest.

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