At Nadya Toto, shoulders reigned supreme. They were puffed up, piled high, topped with epaulets and simply exposed by the skin-tight one-shoulder dresses that the long-time Montreal-based designer sent down the runway. In a palette of purple, grey, black and hot pink, the collection culminated with crinkled taffeta frocks and sparkly jersey dresses that could have come straight off the set of Dynasty. Whether you like it or not, the ’80s are clearly the decade that just won’t quit.
Not surprisingly, Marie Saint Pierre did not stray from what she does best: elegant draped-jersey styles with edgy, over-the-top elements. At least, I think. Seated near the front of the runway, I was haplessly stuck viewing the entire show in near darkness thanks one very unfortunate lighting situation. Dramatic effect is wonderful and all, but when you decide to turn on the spotlight only once each model has reached the middle of the runway—and then shut it off again at the midway point of her return walk—you leave one unhappy half of the audience quite literally in the dark. Only once I’d had the chance to scan photos of the show on a photographer friend’s camera could I truly appreciate her slinky styles, tied up and twisted into what looked like sculptural sausages (at least to those of us starving editors working on a champagne-only diet).
In case you were wondering, current catwalk tumble count: 1. While the models had managed to stay upright for most of the night, one poor girl at Marie Saint Pierre kept catching her heel on the inside of her floor-length crinoline skirt until it eventually brought her down. Injury-free, she laughed it off backstage and walked the Helmer runway shortly after, a trouper through and though.
The night ended with a parade of patchwork courtesy of Montreal’s beloved couturier, Helmer. It appeared in all forms, from bodysuits to ’60s-style shift dresses to floor-length backless gowns, punctuated by new styles like fitted patterned-silk frocks with vertical slashes on the sleeves and backs. Helmer, who always loves to tell a story, finished his show with the requisite veiled bride, this time accompanied by her very own patchwork prince. An impressive return to the runway, especially when you consider that he turned the presentation around in less than two months to benefit the people—and reflect the many colours—of his home country of Haiti.