Toronto Fashion Week transforms Yorkville Village into an international fashion showcase
One of the biggest and most exciting semi-annual fashion showcases started its new home in Toronto this week. On Monday, February 5th, opening shows displayed a firestorm of both homegrown and international talent with innovative collections from Mayer Man, Eleventy, Triarchy, UNTLD, Narces, and Christopher Bates.
Arriving early, I walked the large red carpet that sits on the sidewalk outside the Avenue Road entrance to TFW’s new home, Yorkville Village. The luxury retail galleria transformed its central meeting area into a fresh and whimsical lounge for guests to grab a drink and mingle in between shows. As the day progressed, it became the focal point, and we rub shoulders with the models, designers, and industry representatives, respectively.
TFW is an international fashion festival promising “a robust programming schedule to include fashion talks with internationally renowned designers and industry experts, runway shows and fashion presentations,” and they delivered. Opening day at Toronto Fashion Week set the tone not only the rest of the festival, but for the effortlessly creative and inspiring directions that fashion is taking in Canada in general. Toronto is a multifaceted network of art and artistry and these designers are radiantly showcasing their work to the who’s who of fashion in Canada and beyond; fashion monsters line the runways in search of that “it piece.”
Fashion is a lifestyle.
“MAYER MAN is a Toronto based luxury menswear label created by award-winning Canadian designer Ross Mayer. As an established women’s wear designer Mayer built an international reputation with such notable retailers as Holt Renfrew, HBC, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue as well as established branded boutiques here at home in Canada. Inspired by high street style, coupled with a young cool carefree vibe the collection pays tribute to iconic outerwear pieces mixed with elevated street-style separates that blur the boundaries between casual and chic, masculine and feminine.”
Considering this was Ross Maher’s first men’s collection, his show opened TFW to a buzzing full house. The show dazzled the standing-room-only studio (an industrial concrete room, empty but for support beams and square podiums for the models to stand on) as a DJ set the tone for the show. Colour, sequence, turtlenecks, pea coats, fur, structure, fluidity, and a cherub female model all helped elevate this debut men’s line from an organically gender fluid concept into a fully functional and ready to wear collection fit for any man (or woman) who dares to be different.
Q & A with Ross Mayer of MAYER MAN:
What was the first article of men’s clothing you designed?
Mayer: This collection! Last year I decided that you know what, enough talking about it, it’s time to do it. I’ve been in the womenswear business for years and years, and I have something to say for men. I feel today, the lines of gender are so blurred, and I think it’s about a fluidity that blends across fashion – and people.
How would you describe the “Mayer Man?”
He’s an urban guy that appreciates quality and fit and fabric and a sense of colour. He’s looking for something that is classic but unique. It’s different, and it has a special detail and sense of style to it. He can invest in it and know it’s in his closet and it’s not going anywhere. This is only part of the collection, the next presentation I’m going to have will be at TOM (Toronto Men’s Fashion Week) and there you will see full colour – explosion!
What advice can you give to up and coming male fashion designers who are inspired by you and your work?
I always said to myself over the years, you have to stay true to yourself. If you have an idea and you believe in something – it’s for a reason. You just need to follow that. There are many many people out there in the marketplace, and everybody has to have their own individual voice.
Eleventy – Made in Italy
“Marco Baldassari is the creative director for menswear. Paolo Zuntini is the creative director for womenswear. It was their idea of responsible Made in Italy fashion, pivoting on ceaseless research into the textiles and the quest for a style that could meet contemporary demands. The growth of the Group, the headquarters of which have always been in Milan, is accompanied by a retail development plan now consisting of a network of 19 single-brand boutiques – 7 in Italy, 5 in Korea, 2 in Austria, 1 in France and one in the States – and of over 500 multi-brand outlets throughout the world.”
While neither Marco Baldassari or Paolo Zuntini actually attended the runway show, the “Italian elegance” projected in all of their designs personified a pristine display of layering, textiles, and effortlessly gorgeous blends of earth tones. Comfortable but chic, this brand is subdued, presenting a more polished version of business meets casual. Male and female models showcased the entire Spring/Summer 2018 collection with layered suede (brown, beige), denim (blue and white), pops of colour (orange and green) and black leather, then mingled with guests inside their upstairs boutique (complete with complimentary champagne). The Eleventy S/S2018 fashion show unravelled with flair – ascotts, flood pants, classic denim, and all. Bravissimo!
“Triarchy is a sustainable luxury denim company based out of Toronto and Los Angeles. Designed by brother and sister duo Adam and Ania Taubenfligel, Triarchy’s mission is to make garments using recycled water, which reduces the massive unnecessary H2O consumption usually necessary for denim production. (Eco-friendly fashionistas rejoice— to date, Triarchy has saved over 1,000,000 gallons of water!) Their Atelier line also repurposes and reconstructs vintage denim into one-of-a-kind pieces. While A-listers like Alessandra Ambrosio, Rita Ora and Adrien Grenier are fans of the label, the designers have the True North on their minds.
Somewhat of a rock star moment during the opening day of Toronto Fashion Week was seeing Ania of Triarchy close her show in a head-to-toe white denim look equipped with floor length fringe and a celebratory walk. Triarchy came here to leave their mark. Every piece in the denim collection breezed down the runway with a statement, whether it was the diversity of light/dark blue, white and black denim, the fabulosity of fringe, or the iridescent sequence, Adam and Ania are playful, unique, likeable, and very humbly charitable. The Triarchy show was where fashion came to meet rock and roll and heart and soul.
Q&A with Adam and Ania Taubenfligel of Triarchy:
What made you two want to get into fashion together and do you often butt heads on ideas?
Adam: When we butt heads or do we butt heads? (He laughs with his sister). I don’t think we would be working together if we didn’t want to. It all goes back to when we were little and our mother would give us Versace Magazine and it was fashion ever since. We’re most excited about showing our collection alongside Canada’s best and brightest.
Your luxury jeans are not only popular, they’re eco-friendly – what made you want to go this route when manufacturing?
Ania: It’s just the right thing to do.
Adam: And I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.
How would you describe the “Triarchy Woman” and the “Triarchy Man?”
Ania: The Triarchy Man and Woman? Adam and Ania!
Adam: They’re fabulous, eco-friendly people who love denim.
Ania: And fringe!
Christopher Bates (Runway)
“After training in Milan at legendary Istituto Marangoni, Canadian contemporary menswear designer Christopher Bates launched his eponymous namesake menswear line in 2008, rapidly gaining traction with retailers, consumers, media, stylists and celebrities. His recognitions include a feature as one of the top six menswear designers in Canada (SHARP Magazine), being selected as the only menswear designer in the Mercedes-Benz Start Up Program, naming rights as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Influential People (Alberta Youth Congress 2014), being a finalist for the Notable Awards for Fashion in Canada (Notable.ca 2014 and 2015) and most recently, receiving Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards, CAFA,nomination for Canadian Menswear Designer of the Year.”
Yorkville Village buzzed with anticipation before the closing show for day one, as everyone was excited to see designer Christopher Bates and his collection. I took my front row seat and just before the show started, Project Runway Canada Season One winner, Evan Biddell, took his seat next to me. We introduced ourselves and chatted – he himself has shown at TFW – and it was a great experience watching the show with someone so deeply rooted in the Canadian Fashion Industry. Christopher Bates’ models started coming down the runway one at a time, commanding all the attention for a single look, and the dark silhouettes, beautifully constructed garments, and prominent pops of blue, yellow and green made the menswear collection memorable and worthy of closing out day one of TFW. Dressed in a fitted black suit and tie, a white shirt with lipstick on the collar, and black leather biker gloves during the press interview after the show, Bates exudes fashion-forward badassery at it’s finest.
Q&A with Christopher Bates:
What is the biggest fashion lesson you’ve learned while training in Milano?
I learned what it takes to put together a cohesive collection, so you’re really telling a story, you’re mixing in looks from day and night, you also have a colour story to tell so the palate is really important, and then, of course, the fabrics. There’s a lot more to it than you would initially think – everything has to be in harmony together,
How does it feel to be showcasing your collection at home in Canada as well as closing the opening day of Toronto Fashion Week?
I’m thrilled to be back at Toronto Fashion Week! I’ve been a part of this group for a long time. Toronto and Canada are still my best markets, so I’m committed to developing my business here and helping raise the profile of Canadian fashion.
What advice can you give to up-and-coming fashion designers who are inspired by you and your work?
Be prepared to work hard and follow your dreams. Believe in yourself… A lot of this sounds cliche but that’s what’s going to get you through all the hard times because it’s a really difficult undertaking.
All photos by Dylan Neill
Toronto Fashion Week®, the festival of fashion, art, music and culture. Located in the most multicultural and diverse city in North America, Toronto Fashion Week® will occur twice a year drawing on national and international designers, entertainers, media and the community to create a touchpoint where fashion is celebrated. The environment that Toronto Fashion Week® provides will become a catalyst for media engagement and coverage, retail activity and global connectivity – broadening designers’ reach into international markets through the integration of digital media.
About the Author
Joey Viola is the Co-Founder of MoJo Toronto and an LGBTQ community leader who utilizes his passion and flair for the art of writing by bringing a fresh perspective in reviewing entertainment and advocating for equality, tolerance, and social/political justice.