Toronto’s fashion runway

Leaving the style scenes of Paris and New York behind to make way for local talent


In the past I’ve placed less emphasis on Toronto Fashion Week than on London, Paris, or New York.

It seemed like these cities were the birthplace of important fashion trends and I believed that my home city was merely an offshoot of the real thing. But I’ve come to realize that different trends are more influential in different parts of the world, and what will affect me most is what is showing locally. So this season I paid more attention to Toronto—and discovered a vibrant fashion scene full of well-coordinated trends, beautiful artwork, ingenious creativity—and a reason to take more of an interest in my city.

Four trends in particular dominated Toronto’s runways this spring. The most pervasive—and likely the most publicly available—was neutrals, in the form of whites, creams, nudes, and blacks. Most designers this year allowed neutrals to dominate their lines; while this colour scheme doesn’t seem as appropriate for the warm weather we’ve had as prints or neon do, designers like the Québec-based Mélissa Nepton used soft, flowing fabrics to avoid the harshness of the blacks and whites and give the impression of warmth. The result was that Nepton’s line, equal parts casual and chic, could belong nowhere but in a spring/summer wardrobe. In a country with such disparate seasons, this ingenious ability to repurpose a style is exactly what the Canadian woman wants.

Nevertheless, designers were pushing for an “it” colour this spring. I’ll never figure out whether it’s one person who declares this or the work of a collective genius, but I’m not complaining. The yellow-green, almost neon showing in Mackage, Joe Fresh, and Arthur Mendonca is just the right colour to brighten up the spring neutrals.

Metallics were a less popular but more conspicuous trend than neutrals. Designers like Pavoni, Joe Fresh, Aruthur Mendonca, and Vawk included glitter and sparkle in their spring lines, capitalizing on every woman’s love of things that shine (or maybe that’s just me).

Finally, the bouffants in Pavoni’s line, the cropped bobs with straight fringe in Mélissa Nepton’s, and the high necklines all over the runways, could allude to only one thing: the ’60s. After quickly ranging through the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s in recent seasons, designers have finally returned to the feminine and androgynous styles of the ’60s. There were a few differences, though. High necklines were popular among designers, but plunging necklines were often found in the same lines. In the same vein, harsh ’60s boxed frames were replaced by more flowing pieces with only a few homages to ’60s trends to keep the look modern.

Mike Derderian and Gianni Falcone, the brilliant minds behind Pavoni, also drew inspiration from the ’60s trends for their line of luxury women’s wear. The gowns and dresses they created were beyond the reach of any particular decade; they were a picture of timeless beauty and art. Derderian and Falcone created a spring line that displays the perfect marriage between femininity and power, with masterfully tailored dresses that emphasize the beauty of a woman and empower her to carry herself with class and style. The combination of lace detailing, luxury fabrics, nudes, and metallics on bandaged sweetheart necklines and elegant midi-sleeves is so perfect, it leads the onlooker to wonder whether each outfit was individually designed for the woman wearing it.  Impressively, this fashion house is in its first few years of production. This fashion-lover aches to know what will come next from their creative minds.

While Pavoni was certainly the highlight of Toronto Fashion Week for me, I simply can’t finish without mentioning the Toronto-based designer Lucian Matis, who strayed from the trends of neutrals and metallics this season and opted for stunning kaleidoscopic prints. Lucian Matis’ patterns were intricate, complex, and symmetrical, each one seeming like it was born to live on its specific garment. Lucian Matis proved that patterns are always a viable trend for spring, that inventiveness and creativity are always appreciated, and that there is definitely some incredible talent in Toronto.