Naana Tennachie Yankey collection for her label Coccolily was a trip for frou frou addicts. The kind of lady who never waits for an occasion to whip out her pearls and slip a crinoline under her skirt would lap up these sugary frocks. Embroidered tulle resembled Spanish lace, a beguiling touch to many dresses. Off-white short pouffy numbers would suit the young, coy bride. The Montreal-based designer has an obvious fixation on lingerie details like bows, lace, ruffles, peplums and corset-lacing–often all jam-packed together. There is a limit to how much one look can take. Many styles appeared too decked out, reminding us of the type of girl who craves attention at parties and fails to understand the meaning of subtly. How else do you explain exposed nipples and pasties, not seen since Lindsay Lohan’s stint at Ungaro? An ivory boucle jacket with lace corset overlay was the one of the only covered-up options. Nonetheless, we reckon there are plenty of ladies who would love to pair Coccolily with their closet of Louboutins and ringlet curls.
Basch by Brandon
A short film starring muse and former Victoria’s Secret model Andi Muise, opened Brandon Dwyer’s show. Unfortunately, it was the highlight of his presentation, which felt like a series of gimmicks. Muise took the first runway exit in a sumptuous fur coat as glossy as licorice. The next look was by far the most confusing thing we’ve seen all week. A cough syrup-purple and black striped top worn pant-less, but for tights. It was hard to believe that any stylist would send this down a catwalk. Thick wool shift dresses were rendered inappropriate for the office with diamond cutouts at the bust. A gray and seafoam-paneled jersey dress oddly reminded us of the colour scheme in middle school bathrooms. A leather dress, slit up the back, would suit the Canadian recording artist types Dwyer loves to dress. Several outfits were so sheer, models thongs were fully visible. Muise, especially, should know better than to wear black underthings on the runway. The plush fur shawls and trims that finished many outfits were in discordance with poorly fit dresses. A storm of blonde-wigged models in black T-shirts embellished with rhinestones wrapped up the show. If Dwyer wants to earn his fashion cred, he needs to spend less time on video vignettes and more time in the atelier.
Matis is Canada’s standout for artisan fashion. No one touches him when it comes to incorporating folkloric references into beautifully modern silhouettes. Dirndl dresses with exaggerated sleeves featured zippered backs and strips of bugle beading. A golden print looked like a snapshot of a stash of royal bounty. Quilted skirts shaped like carved bells had a pleasing ombre patina. Every single look was heavily adorned with whimsical details and trimmings. While admirable that Matis sticks to his singular allegorical aesthetic, it has to be said that some styles were weighed down by embellishment upon embellishment. On a lesser designer, such exuberant accouterments would never work. Matis’ skillfully crafted work is undeniably impressive, but he needs to tame his desire to decorate. An earthy palette of rust, goldenrod and bronze and kohl softened liquid leather underpinnings. Large necklaces of tiger’s eye, onyx and polished wood were a rich touch. A one-shouldered dress in an abstracted feather print resembled the style of Alexander McQueen. Like the late designer, we admire how Lucian is above and beyond feeble trends. A true artiste.
A black-on-black fleet of aviators attacked the catwalk with the most aggressive stomp of the week. Tailored protective layers of leather were paired with globe-trotting bags and cadet caps. Ribbed knits were fashioned into outerwear that looked both cozy and sharp, not an easy feat. The handbags and weekenders that define the brand were predictably pocketed and multi-strapped. It would be pleasing to see the label explore new territory, while still retaining their signature look. Waxed cotton skinny pants were an intelligent alternative to the ubiquitous leather legging. Puffer coats were elevated from casual-errand territory when whipped up in lustrous leather. The Rudsak look remains synonymous with the well-dressed Montrealers who always inject all-black ensembles with signature flash. As always, the purveyor proved that no one does polished leather like La Belle Provence.
With down-home music, this distinctive brand offered many takes on 1930’s-style dressing. Large blanket jackets had generous swing in soft plaid prints. Sweaters with serious fuzz–a trend we saw at many shows–were belted and paired with mid-calf circle skirts. Quilted jackets glistened in pewter hues. Strict tartan suiting offered a pleasant break from bulkier silhouettes. A nature-inspired print was used to great effect in multiple smock dresses–a Comrags staple. We liked that the pattern’s origin wasn’t immediately identifiable. Was it crocodile, dino, an ancient sea creature? We settled for tie-died lizard. From curled coifs to Fluevog flat soles, the show was solidly styled and felt authentic to designers Joyce Gunhouse and Judy Cornish’s perspective.
Barbie by David Dixon
As evidenced by the gaggle of girls (young and old) who took photos in the life-size Barbie box inside the venue, there are many women who love the idea of living dolls. For them and them alone, Dixon’s Barbie collection offers sweet reprieve. Naturally, everything was touched with the iconic Malibu pink, from piping on dresses to the bottom of peep-toe pumps. Black rosette print party dresses would appeal to prom goers and gala-hoppers. A camel coat, by far the most wearable item, would suit even those who doth protest dolls.
Regardless as to whether Dixon’s overtly feminine style is your personal taste, the designer never sends anything down the runway that hasn’t been properly finished. We wish other designers took such care to perfect their fit. Nipped-waist LBD’s in a circle pattern offered a vaguely tribal spin to prim cocktail numbers. A folded-heart satin bustier with a silk-chiffon printed skirt was debutante-ready. A wool harness with feathered shoulders gave a simple sheath a dressage air, while a flaked-leather mini-skirt had eye-catching texture. Both pieces were prime examples of Dixon’s efforts to offer fashion-forward separates amongst his stable of ladylike dresses. A black plumed shawl paired with a corset and tuxedo pants would be a great look for a formal function. Broken-mirror and leafy embellishment were well executed and statement making.