While there were plenty of upscale offerings during presentations of spring-summer 2014 collections on Tuesday, there was a decidedly more chilled, laidback vibe evoked by the sheers, knits, breezy tanks and tunics on display.
Sid Neigum: From the sculptural halter and draped cowl neck looks to the iridescent suiting, there was a slightly futuristic feel to the Toronto-based designer's latest line of carefully crafted creations.
Neigum set out to explore themes within architecture which he put to strong effect with use of intricate, laser cut geometric patterns adorning dress fronts and the use of asymmetry in leather-trimmed wrap coats, skirts and dresses. The collection included some of the most vibrant hues featured so far, with rich eggplant and coppery shades featured within the range.
Melissa Nepton: Inspired by Japanese culture and style, the Montreal-based designer infused a little international influence into her collection of refined, relaxed separates.
She played with volume and proportion with loose-fitting tank dresses and ultra-wide legged pants. Making use of silk, viscose and quilted cotton, there was a strong graphic element to the line with stripes, florals and geometric prints which coloured the range. A strapless, sequinned mini dress with a flared hem dotted with swirls of navy and gold ranked among the standouts.
Mercedes-Benz Start Up: A pair of womenswear designers with labels based in Alberta and Quebec are sharing grand prize honours in the latest edition of the Mercedes-Benz Start Up competition.
With the judging panel deadlocked, Edmonton's Malorie Urbanovitch and Cecile Raizonville of Montreal-based Matiere Noire were both named as winning recipients — a first for the contest, which is devoted to recognizing emerging designers from across Canada.
The duo were among eight finalists vying for the top prize. They will return to the Fashion Week runway in Toronto next year for a fully produced runway show, and will also receive editorial support from Fashion Magazine and continued mentoring from industry experts.
Urbanovitch has an eye towards use of natural and innovative fabrics in her ready-to-wear line. The French-born Raizonville — who studied and worked in design in Barcelona, Paris and New York before settling in Montreal — cites curiosity and interest in other cultures as central elements to her brand.
Both designers opted for a minimalist approach in their collections. Urbanovitch's line featured materials described as soft sueded silks with a collection encompassing yellow and charcoal hues. The range showcased graphic knit tanks and toppers, sleek pants and skirts in addition to an array of dresses in sleeved and tank-styles, notably a delicate, dusty rose number with tie-front detailing.
Raizonville showcased a contrast of both the refined and raw within her line, from the bold horizontal striping and peaked shoulders on sleeved dresses to the visible fraying on a sleeveless woven vest. Fitted jackets, a richly-hued burgundy shirtdress and shorts and a prim black sleeveless collared shirt adorned with white trim rounded out her collection.
Along with Urbanovitch, P.E.I. sibling duo Hilary and Louanna Murphy of clothing and accessories brand Dreamboat Lucy were also finalists in the 2012 contest. Iranian-born, Montreal-based Pedram Karimi, Eliza Faulkner of Vancouver Island, Toronto's Hussein Dhalla of HD Homme and Jonathan Shimoni of Toronto-based lifestyles brand Faded rounded out the list of contenders.
JNBY: Short for Just Naturally Be Yourself, the JNBY label, which originated in China, featured a largely spare selection of unadorned separates on the runway for spring-summer.
Save for a few colourfully patterned silky dresses, criss-cross patterned emerald blouse and a sharp green textured blazer with three-quarter pant, the collection was largely mired in an earthy palette of mocha and olive tones. There was a lived-in, ultra lax feel conjured by the frayed edges on sheer blouse and wrinkled texture to the gauzy shirts and lightweight jackets which featured within the line.
Travis Taddeo: In the introductory short film which screened prior to his runway show, Taddeo perfectly encapsulated his brand signature in one emphatic phrase: "It's always got to be edgy."
The Montreal-based designer held true to his style mantra, albeit with a slightly softer approach. Dubbed the Matinee collection — a nod to the movement in colour gradiation from darkness to light — the ballcap-sporting models sported a succession of layered streetwear styles in a mostly muted palette of white, black, dusty grey and pale and midnight blue hues.
Among the cosy tees, long-sleeve shirts, drawstring pants and relaxed strapless jumpers, there were more than a fair share of form-fitting and revealing creations for women not shy about showing a little skin: barely-there boy shorts, sheer black blouses, racerback tank dress and slinky jersey dress with side cutouts. But Taddeo showed a deft touch and a softer side with a chic quilted cropped vest, a classic shirtdress layered over tank and an ethereal look which showcased soft, sheer draping over a white tank dress.
There was a relaxed vibe to the menswear, which encompassed sleeveless leather vests, hoodies, tanks, baggy and fitted shorts.
Day 2 also featured presentations from Tatsuaki and Laura Siegel.
Fashion Week continues until Friday.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version identified the Matiere Noire designer as Celine rather than Cecile