Paul Hardy is not one to conform to fashion norms. Loopy circus music on repeat and a West End curiosity-shop setting proved that clearly. The Flare team, along with a healthy contingent of Hardy loyalists make the far-and-gone trek hopeful that he would make it worth our while. From his ethereal all-ivory show for Spring, Hardy decided to go in an elegantly sinister direction. Entitled Cirque Noir, the show began with silk pantsuits and sheer outsize-ruffled tops, one the colour of butter with black polka dots. A fur-trimmed sooty tweed car coat had a regal Czarina feel. A leather catsuit with fur sleeves recalled the recent Avengers-themed Hermes show A utility jacket with a pick-up hem got the evening treatment in licorice satin. Embellished little black dresses had universal appeal and a layered-look jacket and with Mongolian lamb collars were cleverly luxe. A smattering of gray jersey slim-cut sweatpants added athletic ease to even the most ladylike looks. While some of the styling choices felt a bit off (one rolled pant leg, dated spindly heels), this was the strongest Hardy collection in years. Interesting considering the show’s theme was a comment on the unorganized, circusy nature of fashion weeks in Canada. If rejecting the official schedule and venue helped Hardy channel his creativity this season, the bazaar move paid off.