In what was likely the show of the week, José Manuel St. Jacques and Simon Bélanger, the Montreal-based duo behind Unttld, presented a powerful collection for spring. The atmosphere was set with haunting choral music that played as guests filed into the show space. Unttld has garnered a fair amount of buzz within Canada’s fashion community, in large part due to the fact that they won last season’s Mercedes Benz Start Up competition. This automatically gave them the chance to put on an all expenses paid show in this season’s runway room at David Pecaut Square. Let it be known: they used the opportunity well.
The presentation followed a dark-to-light narrative. Beginning with a series of all black looks, the first few made from a spongy, light neoprene that bounced with the models’ gaits, they made for a dramatic statement. There were gauzy long skirts and draped jackets cut in a way reminiscent of classic Rick Owens. While the clothes were without print or embellishment, it quickly became apparent that the cuts were based on Japanese dress, with Obi ties and wrapped bodices. Sage green was slowly introduced into the black looks, started with a pair of tuxedo trousers. Here the Japanese influence became more obvious, with kimono-style shirts trimmed in unfinished leather. White became the third shade to join – a few looks included all three colours, but most looks were bright white: kimonos with flouncy skirts, and an impeccably tailored, sterile suit. And then the finale, metallic rose gold: a triumphant finish to a show that began in moody black. The last dress – the bride, so to speak – was a simple, voluminous strapless gown, made entirely in a glorious gold foil, pleated and expertly finished. The whole show felt like a celebration of frivolity and fashion at its most interesting, yet there was a seriousness there – and some very important buyers were seen making a play for the designers after the show. Here’s hoping that Unttld’s future is as bright as this collection was.