Dane Richards

A week after the official close of Montreal Fashion Week up-and-coming designer Dane Richards staged his own independent fashion presentation. Held in the converted warehouse space Eastern Bloc the setting—exposed brick and roof beams, scuffed wood floors and white walls—struck a perfect tone a gave a polished edge to the entire collection.

Richards, who won top prize at Fashion Pop (an annual competition for emerging designers associated with the three-day music festival Pop Montreal) in 2008, is known for is use of fringe and there was no shortage of that here. His autumn/winter 2010-11 collection was reminiscent of his past work but also a look forward to something sleeker, more wearable and more adult. Though fringe was on every piece that came down the runway, from the men’s high-waisted fringed pants, (which made me think of Mongolian sheepherders) to a classic long, straight jersey dress with a thick bottom fringe, he really played with it proportion and volume to create something interesting and new looking.  The best pieces of the night, however, were the fringed evening jacket intriguing, glamorous and ethical, and the fringed circle bags with pops of colour.

Photo by Richmond Lam. richmondlam.com

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Canadian Fashion, Off-Site

Montreal Fashion Week opens today with an off-site show by Philip Dubuc, and though the show will still take place in Montreal, the term off-site could be used to describe the general trend among young Canadian designers.

Jeremy Laing, Rad Hourani, Mark Fast and Erdem Moralioglu are all emerging Canadian designers who showed their latest collections in New York and London. Laing and Hourani tended towards a silhouette with a more masculine cut, though Laing’s was both softer and with more obvious wearability. Hourani’s entire collection is unisex and works equally well on men and women (one thing you’re guaranteed to see at Montreal Fashion Week is a lot of men and women in stacked Hourani heels), with a great downtown near futuristic edge that’s appealing and hard to ignore.

In some way’s Fast’s collection felt overshadowed by the media attention surrounding his inclusion of full-figured models in his runway show. There’s no denying the curvier girls pulled off his figure hugging knitwear as well as the others but were the designs that interesting and the silhouettes new? Some of the colours fell a bit flat to my eye. The colours at Erdem looked new, however, and the prints were bold and wearable and I liked that everything was styled with a sturdy ankle boot, even the flowing evening gowns, it gave a bit of a tough edge to what could’ve been a overly girly collection.

Images from Left to Right: Jeremy Laing f/w 10, Rad Hourani f/w 10, Mark Fast f/w 10 & Erdem f/w 10.

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Toronto (or West Queen West)

This Valentines weekend I headed back to Toronto to celebrate my pop’s birthday. Despite how close Montreal and Toronto are, it’s rare that I make it to town more than a few times a year, so when I do there’s a laundry list of places to check out.

Number 1.  Stella Luna (1627 Queen St. W.) I used to live just around the corner from this vintage store at Roncesvalles & Queen and would pop in about three times a week. It was a near-miracle if I walked away empty-handed. The owner Cris has unmatchable taste and some of the best things I’ve ever bought came from this store, including my Aztec-meets-Hudson’s-Bay blanket winter coat.

Number 2. Chasse Gardée (1084 Queen St. W.) This is a newish store that a friend pointed out this past summer. When I last visited they were stocked with some outrageous lemon brogues with a cork wedge (six months later, they were, surprisingly/luckily, still there). With shoes, accessories and a few specially curated pieces, the store is supremely cool–though more winter stock and a change from the summer sandals would’ve been better.

Number 3. Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects (1082 Queen St. W.) One of the most interesting gallery’s in the city, they champion up-and-coming artists, so there’s always something different and often darkly funny on the walls. Now they’ve turned a previous a gallery space into an artists flea market with everything from work by artists they represent (ceramic fingers and ears by one artist were some of my favourite) to vintage knick-knacks, and great antique pieces.  A further plus is Melissa, also an ex-gallery space that’s now a tiny boutique in the style of a vintage boudoir.

Number 4. Hoof Café (923 Dundas W.) With one of my best friends being a Toronto-based food writer there’s inevitably a lot of eating on these trips. She was eager to take me to the Hoof Café where I skipped out on the tongue grilled cheese (a roommate of mine once boiled one as a potluck joke, only to have a guest stick it through the fly of his pants in an act of comedic genius and put me off for just about forever) but dug into the suckling pig eggs benedict, which I can’t even begin to describe.

Number 5. The Drake General Store (1144 Queen St. W.) Say what you want about the Drake (it’s lame, over-priced, filed to capacity with greased-up suburbanites), their General Store is genuinely awesome. It’s sort of like Urban Outfitters, but smaller and cooler, with more wit, better products and lower prices. It’s the kind of place you want to loiter in when you’ve got a dull hangover and money to spend on novelty gifts like RCMP cocktail napkins.

Number 6. Union (72 Ossington) We’d heard mixed reviews about this was a great place to hang out and the dinner was perfect, though admittedly after couple of Zubrowka cocktails and a bottle of Italian red, all I can remember from the meal was that I ate every bite of my pork and shrimp burger and was a big help in finishing off a delicious bread pudding.

Photos: The Drake General Store, the Hoof Café & Chasse Gardée

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Audrey Cantwell

Back in December I profiled Montreal-based designer Audrey Cantwell for this article. When we spoke she was in the midst of working on her s/s 2010 collection and still a little unsure of the direction it was headed (though white magic was a reoccurring theme).

The collection is now up on her website and the pieces are available from her Etsy shop. Her previous collections were a bit goth and a bit grunge but I feel a shift away from that here. It’s still a bit dark and moody but there’s a femininity in this collection that wasn’t present before.

During our conversation we spoke about her influences and I’m reminded of one designer in particular when I look at the stripped geometric dress. I can see aspects of early Vivienne Westwood (okay, the face paint helps), the silhouette is unusual but not unlikely. It’s a bold piece and ultimately, wearable.

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I’ve been wearing my boyfriend’s shirt’s non-stop for the past few days. This isn’t groundbreaking but it’s new for me. I’m petite (read: short), it’s difficult enough to find women’s shirts that don’t hang like an ill-fitted sheet, so I was surprised that a man’s shirt could work so well.

It also got me thinking about the recent men’s collections. The lines between men’s and womenswear have become increasingly blurred—evidenced on the booted and stovepiped bottom-halves of girls and boys everywhere—and it’s interesting to see how and in which direction they continue to influence each other. Prada featured female models as well as shrunken unisex sweaters in a degrede knit that called to mind a prize find at the Salvation Army. Many more collections also had touches of traditional womenswear; the delicately cut, elongated bomber at YSL, the sarong-styled knits at Raf Simons, the moon-boots and slim-fitted snow pants at Moncler.

These four looks all have elements I’d like to see translated in the women’s collections; ankle-length pants, over-sized but proportionate knits, double-lapelled jackets, stiff but malleable almost futuristic fabrics and an earthy, sandy-grey colour palette.

Clockwise from top left: Kim Jones for Alfred Dunhill, Dior Homme, Rick Owens, Raf Simons

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My bro got me a pretty sweet pair of kicks for Christmas (I’m running a 1/2 marathon in May). Did I think I’d ever like a pair of Nike running shoes so much? No. No, I did not. Did I think he was capable of picking out such a perfect pair? No, I did not. But apparently it was easy, I have “weird taste.”

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A Year in the Life of Vogue


Director R.J. Cutler hit fashion gold when he filmed Vogue editor Anna Wintour and her team for The September Issue, the behind-the-scenes documentary that follows them as they put together what would turn out to be the biggest issue in the magazine’s history.
Filmed in 2007 at the height of fashion’s glory days, and before the recession, Cutler captured a specific time in the industry, one that revolved around a now outdated concept of luxury.
The film really plays to the “fabulous” idea of fashion; Vogue’s halls are filled with rack upon rack of clothes people like you and me could only dream of; entire rooms are dedicated to shoes, bags, bracelets; Wintour says things like “looks cheap to me;” they shoot Sienna Miller…in Rome!
As a reader Vogue is a title I rarely pick-up (the September issue especially, its like toting a family bible around). Of all of Vogue titles the U.S. version is the most pedestrian (this month Paris Vogue published a controversial shoot of model Lara Stone in black face, now that’s interesting) but it’s this balance between glamour and cutting-edge that keeps it profitable. And that’s really the key to this movie.
Beyond forever endearing Creative Director Grace Coddington as the one true free-spirit of fashion, what this film really draws attention to is the fact that fashion is a business. It may seem obvious, but it’s something we often forget when gorging ourselves on the latest shoes or being spoon-fed the hottest trends. Given the current economy it’s easy to see how the fissure has occurred between fashion and fantasy.

The September Issue opened across Canada a few weeks ago. You can read my full review here.

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