F-List’s 5 Year Celebration

Get ready to celebrate a milestone with the F-list – on October 6th the F-list celebrates its five year anniversary with F-listed, an online auction of fashionable goods in support of Dress for Success Toronto. 
Over the past few months I have amassed quite a collection of amazing goodies from my friends in the fashion business. And from October 6 – 16 the F-list will auction off items from designers, retailers and fashionable tastemakers and celebrities in Canada. Stay tuned to f-list.ca for details. Bidding goes live at midnight on October 6th and is open to Canada and the United States.

New Start Up Designer Competition

Lauren Bagliore Spring 2011
When IMG sent an invitation to the fashion crowds in Toronto inviting them to attend a “cocktail reception and special announcement” at the Mercedes-Benz dealership, most of us assumed it was a new sponsorship of LG Fashion Week.  After all IMG has steered event management of fashion weeks worldwide and Mercedes-Benz is the title sponsor of many of them (NY, Miami, Berlin). IMG has taken an increasingly active role in Toronto’s shows. Bring on the high-end hot wheels, I thought.
Instead, after the champagne and canapes, they announced a new designer competition called Start Up that will launch this fall at LG Fashion Week’s Spring 2012 event. Only designers in Vancouver and Montreal are invited to compete the first year, though it will expand to other cities in 2012. To be eligible, designers must be in business for less than five years. 
Twenty finalists will make the semi-final round, and four designers will be selected to show their collections at the national final during LG Fashion Week. The winner will enjoy a five month incubation period where they will work with industry mentors to prepare a debut solo show for the Fall 2012 runway.

“The goal is to facilitate a platform for these designers to showcase their talent in a professional setting with access to key mentors from various segments of the industry.”
       – Peter Levy, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of IMG Fashion

Details on application process, judges and industry mentors are forthcoming. What isn’t coming is cash for the winner, sadly. It seems odd to offer a designer competition, a la Project Runway, and not offer cash. Will the industry mentors help raise funds for fabrics and production? What about costs associated with the runway show, does the FDCC absorb that?
If IMG and Mercedes-Benz really wanted to wow us, they would promise the winning designer cash and a slot at an international show. Canada’s proximity and influence from the States makes expansion into the U.S. almost a requirement in business. I’m not positive this will prepare designers for that important step, so for now I’m filing under “wait and see.”
Photo by George Pimentel.

Faces of Fashion: Senait

Senait of Elmer Olsen Models
If 10,000 hours is what it takes to be a success at something, then Elmer Olsen Model’s young Senait has a long way to go. “I’ve been modeling eight months,” she explains. But this fresh face knows that practice and patience go hand in hand when trying to excel at something. It’s that kind of determination that has her confidently walking upright in high heels – her “biggest challenge” to date – while other new models struggle.  
And while modelling may be new to her, Senait is quite familiar with the misconceptions around the business. “To be a model you have to have a healthy balanced diet and on top of that you must be active so you have the energy to keep up with everything! Like playing on a sports team.”  
It can’t be hard to keep a model’s figure when your weaknesses are sushi and strawberries (as opposed to, say, steamed dumplings and scones). Hitting the runway at LG Fashion Week has been Senait’s biggest moment yet, and with her unique look she’ll likely graduate to international runways in no time.

Are We Just Not That Into Him?

After more than ten years of hard work Denis Gagnon is enjoying some well-deserved moments – a FashionTelevision special, a line for BEDO, an exhibit at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Montreal and the opening of his own boutique in Old Montreal. The press uses the words “icon” and “Denis Gagnon” together often.

So it was hard to ignore the audible concern over a less-than-stellar turnout at his LG Fashion Week runway show. When will the world properly take note of Denis Gagnon, we all wondered. It doesn’t seem fair (to him) to be kept a secret any longer. This June his genius will be on display at Toronto’s Luminato Festival. Lancôme and Luminato have commissioned Gagnon to create a one-of-a-kind dress installation inspired by Alice in Wonderland. This event will position Denis squarely within the international arts community. And let’s face it, the man is an artist.

Gagnon’s fall 2011 collection was described as a “fusion of colors, textures and materials, the feminine silhouette, endowed with a new profile, enhanced by this exuberant sensuality found in the sculptural work of Denis Gagnon.” Our inveterate creator could have been channeling Michael Alig’s Club Kids of the 90’s in his exploration of a new feminine silhouette.

Photos by Peter Lytwyniuk / Studiolit.com
If you wonder how some of these things would look on a store hanger, you needn’t wonder long. Denis opened his new boutique last week in Old Montreal (170B rue Saint-Paul Ouest) where, in addition to apparel, you will find the gorgeous accessories from his runway show. Could a fragrance and line of eyewear be far behind? Who knows? One thing we have learned in ten years of watching Denis Gagnon – expect to be wowed.

Location, Location, Location

It’s the week before the fashion mega-showcase known as LG Fashion Week beauty by L’Oreal, and fashion crowds are taking in Rogue Fashion Week. The various venues say as much about a designer as the clothes themselves. Kicking off the week at the Burroughs Building, Sparks’ works has a similar kind of historic charm – given his interest in heritage tailoring it’s not a surprise. The former F. C. Burroughes Furniture Company built the original 639 Queen Street West as its flagship retail department store in 1907. I like to think Philip is inspired by the building.

Later in the week we hit the flip side. The almost-complete Trump Tower at Bay and Adelaide provided a great backdrop for the modern flourish of Mark Fast, Mikhael Kale and Arthur Mendonca, and the pre-opening timeslot was edgy enough to warrant men in hard hats as ushers. 

Paul Hardy’s romantic collection and meticulous detailing were on point at the National Ballet School – sorry, bad pun – and I found the bowling shoes a fun disruption. The Greta & Ezra Constantine show closed the week at Audi with a slick show like a shiny new hot rod.

It’s not easy hosting a runway show off site, but these are not new kids on the design block. These are some of our top designers, the ones about whom you will say, “I knew them when…”  And in reviewing the collections, I thought it more fun to see how they looked on Twitter to the people who watch all the shows, no matter where they are:

Philip Sparks
Myth busting evening.  Backstage at Philip Sparks and the models were eating PIZZA.  
Yes – greasy slabs of pizza pie. How bloody refreshing. (@SarahEWaldock)

Lusting after that soft maple print cocktail dress from Philip Sparks tonight. 
Dresses more fun than light fixtures. (@k_cleveland)
Philip Sparks Fall 2011, photos by Jenna Marie Wakani
Mark Fast & Mikhael Kale 
Don’t remember this Mark Fast dress from his London show but dammmn do I want it. (@xoxSNP)
So the rich socialites of Toronto definitely came out to play today at 
the Mark Fast / Mikael Kale shows (@marcpiercey)
Just left the Mark Fast/ Mikhael Kale show. Incredible collections and
some fierce models. Love the attitude!  (@ExposedBlog)
Mark Fast Fall 2011, photo by Felix Wong
Mikhael Kale Fall 2011, photo by Felix Wong
Mark Fast Fall 2011, photo by Irem Harnak
Mark Fast Fall 2011, photo by Felix Wong

Arthur Mendonca
Thank God Arthur Mendonca is back designing in Canada. First exit – 
black slick trench – is brilliant. (@LisaTant)
Saw #Arthur Mendonca’s show tonight. Exquisite & sophisticated! 
Tea lovers – It was like a fine #Da Hong Pao Oolong (@theteastylist)
Arthur Mendonca 2011, photo by Dean Sanderson
Arthur Mendonca Fall 2011, photo by Felix Wong
Paul Hardy
Right on trend: footwear hitting the ground: shoes at Paul Hardy show at National Ballet school was bowling shoes. Even with evening wear. (@DerickChetty)
From Trump Hotel nouveau riche to National Ballet’s Quaker-style hall. 
Bond girls to school girls. Fast/Kale to Paul Hardy #chooseyourfetish (@amyverner)
Paul Hardy, photo by Owen E. McLeod
Greta Constantine
If you play Adele at a fashion show, I will forgive you for shining that light 
right in my eyes with every exit. (@moshamosha)
Also, for fall/winter 2011, what’s with Canadians showing chest? 
First Kale, then Mendoza, and now shirtless dudes at Ezra (@pliving)
My all white outfit choice has me inadvertantly matching Audis festooning 
dealership venue of Greta Constantine. Fashion faux pas or fun? (@suzanne_boyd)
Greta Constantine, photo by Owen E. McLeod
Greta Constantine, photo by Owen E. McLeod
Greta Constantine, photo by Owen E. McLeod

Ready for Ready-to-Wear

photo by Peter Lytwyniuk
The Superbowl may be over, but as far as I’m concerned the real games are just beginning. It’s the start of Ready-to-Wear season when designers will be fiercely competing on runways around the world for international attention and investment. Of course, runway shows are a different kind of spectator sport than football or hockey.  Let’s be honest, they’re usually viewed while the boss is out to lunch or late at night, just you and your laptop. But in the vein of “more is better” I encourage you to do your hair, don a great pair of shoes and pour yourself a glass of bubbly while indulging in a live stream (where available) or a photo slideshow.
February 7 – 10, Montreal
Montreal’s calendar includes many of the usual suspects – Barila, Bodybag by Jude, Nadya Toto – plus a peak at Rudsak’s new label RUD. Denis Gagnon, along with Marie Saint Pierre, tops this list of must-see shows. As well, the young Montreal-raised, London-based Thomas Tait will debut with Christian l’Enfant Roi and Samule Mercure in a group show presented by Trusst. Live streaming available.
Montreal Fashion Week
February 10 – 17, New York
Plenty to heart about New York’s calendar. The pro set of Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Betsy Johnson ground the week. Mix in the glamour of Badgley Mischka, hipster chic of Charlotte Ronson and celebrity shows like L.A.M.B and you have something uniquely New York. Live streaming available for some shows.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

February 13 – 15, London
With an eye on emerging talent and international designers (including Mackage) Scoop appears to be modeled after New York’s Coterie or Copenhagen’s Gallery.  This new show is based at London’s Saatchi Gallery. Check back for live streaming details.
Scoop International Fashion Show 
February 18 – 23, London
London jam packs their week with designer shows…too many to count. Some highlights will no doubt include Christopher Kane, Erdem, Matthew Williamson, Vivienne Westwood Red Label and Mark Fast. Check back for live streaming details.
London Fashion Week

February 23 – March 1, Milan
Gucci, Pucci, Prada and Jil Sander are just the tip of the Milano iceberg. For insider reports from the Milan shows, follow Flare Magazine’s @LisaTant on Twitter. Check back for live streaming details.
Milan Fashion Week
March 1 – 9, Paris
There is no other city who can compete with Paris on fashion: Dior, Balmain, Lanvin, Balenciaga, Comme des Garcons, YSL, Jean Paul Gaultier, Galliano, McQueen and of course Chanel. (In case you missed it, check out Jeanne Beker’s interview with Jean Paul Gaultier in the Globe and Mail here.) Check back for live streaming details.
Paris Fashion Week (Mode à Paris)
And let’s not forget our Canadian shows. Check back for designers and live streaming information. More to come!
March 24 – 31, Edmonton
March 28 – April 1, Toronto
LG Fashion Week
April 12 – 15, Vancouver

Biddell’s Kingdom of Ass-Kicking Ladies

Photos by Peter Balinski
For a designer to resonate with a public, they need to have a voice.  That may be an odd choice of words given a designer’s silent contribution in the form of fabric, but the voice is what the customer either relates to – or doesn’t – as it must also speak for them.

Evan Biddell‘s voice has been loud and clear since he first showcased his winning Project Runway collection. And each season that voice seems to get stronger.  It’s a voice says,  “I’m feminine and soft, but don’t f#%k with me, I can’t be played.  “For spring, the ever-daring Biddell combined the hard edge of armour with the wispy float of a summer breeze and made it work.  

Biddell is, in fact, all business now.  He has spent the last five months working out of Seven Continents, a local manufacturing company steeped in design.  They produce mannequins, bust forms and pretty much any display or merchandising item used in retail, from Joe Fresh to Abercrombie and Fitch.  They clearly appreciate all facets of design and innovation.  It’s a Warhol-ian Factory circa 2010.  In fact the runway show took place inside the factory where endless mannequins towered above at the guests on massive shelves.
Off the top we saw Biddell’s signature flowing gowns and dresses capped in spiked collars and metal detailing.  Then the armour began to soften, looking more reptilian.  Military cuts paired with the delicate floral prints came off Little House on the Prairie in a post-apocalyptic world.  (I swear the best fashion is made for the end of the world!)
What I appreciate about his work is that he can continually surprise us with new shapes, textures, cuts and detailing but still keep it – for the most part – quite wearable.  His is not a collection you will likely ever find at The Bay, but when you do stumble upon a piece by Evan Biddell, you will be know immediately you have discovered something special.

Speaking of special….

Evan Biddell autographed TWO limited edition shopping totes by Aldo for YOU, F-listers!  I’ll pick two winners at the end of the weekend – contest closes at 8pm on Sunday, October 17th. One entry per person.

All you have to do to enter is email shop@f-list.ca with the names of all seven continents. (Here’s a hint…)

The bag is a symbol of the donation Aldo has made on behalf of the Canadian fashion industry and Evan in the fight against AIDS. You will be proud to carry it!   

Catch Evan’s show at LG Fashion Week – Thursday, October 21 at 6:30pm.

Tartaned Up in Halifax

Atlantic Fashion Week is well under way in Halifax, and tonight’s highlights include Katrina Tuttle, fresh off her LG Fashion Week debut, and Veronica MacIsaac (above). Veronica’s specialty is rooted squarely in, well, her Scottish roots. She grew up as a highland dancer and with a nod to her kilt-making mother, was sewing by the age of four. Her parents run the critically acclaimed MacIsaac Kiltmakers in St. Peter’s, Cape Breton Island.

Veronica’s Celtic designs are thoroughly compelling thanks to a keen eye for contemporary trends (check out the one-shoulder tartan dress) and ability to balance the youthful with the elegant. All pieces are custom made-to-order and available in wool, silk, or poly/viscose blend fabric. You can also choose any tartan. And thankfully – we’re pretty sure you don’t need Scottish roots to rock these babies.

Veronica shows tonight during Atlantic Fashion Week at Olympic Center, Halifax.

It’s Official. We’re Throwing a Party.

They say the only constant in fashion is that everything changes. The same can be said about fashion weeks in Toronto. Between a new venue, new designers, and new restrictions on which shows are available to the public, there is plenty of change to LG Fashion Week’s Spring 2010 calendar.

One more change to your fashion week….

Join the F-list Monday through Friday, October 19 – 23, for The Official. It’s fashion week’s biggest party all week, every night at Maro in Liberty Village. We kick off a new season of Designer Spotlights with up and coming designers like Abel Munoz, one of Canada’s few haute shoe designers. Enjoy fashion installations, beauty bars, footage from the runway shows care of Fashion Television, guest dj’s and MORE! Every night is different and always open to the public.

And since Maro is around the corner from the LG Fashion Week tents, we’re throwing out the red carpet for all of fashion week. No cover if you show your LG Fashion Week laminate!

DOORS OPEN 8PM NIGHTLY….stay all night and strike a pose for the cameras! (It’s fashion week, of course there will be cameras!)

Here is just a TASTE of how we kick off our first official Official!

Monday, October 19
Dress to Kill magazine Toronto launch party
Designer spotlight with 2009 TFI New Labels winner, Faren Tami
CLUB RED installation by Aria Boutique
DJ Daniel spins the tunes into the late night

Tuesday, October 20
Designer spotlight with knitwear designer, Heidi Ackerman
Designer installation with IT Showroom featuring Zoran Dobric, Carrie Hayes, Katya Revenko of Desperately Different & Karamea’s MIchelle Turpin
Party all night with DJ Barbi

Log into the F-list for daily schedule updates!

Officially Unofficial

It’s Official – we’re trying something new this fashion week! The F-list will be hosting a new nightly after party at Maro in the Liberty Village, just steps away from the LG Fashion Week tents. Each night of fashion week, Monday through Friday, we will merge fashion, music, art and beauty into a thumping evening of celebration.

It’s a party for the public, fashion insiders and designers to show off their Canadian fashion swagger. You won’t want to miss it.

Details to come! And if you’re looking for tickets to LG Fashion Week, check out www.lgfashionweek.ca.