Lingerie:  the French word for the repellent English version “undergarment.”  But really, you can say anything in French and it will sound sexier and more eloquent.  “Poubelle de rue”— an insult translated “trashcan of the street” even contains a “belle” (meaning beautiful) in it. Translations aside, lingerie rarely has the association of fashion in Toronto, until the Fortnight lingerie preview on the last day of LG Fashion Week.

“Lingerie and fashion go hand in hand, but often they are separated,” explains Christina Remenyi, the petit-sized designer behind the lingerie label Fortnight.  Remenyi decided to unveil her SS11 collection on mannequins, instead of models.  “I don’t know how I feel about lingerie and heels together,” Remenyi describes backstage in her decision to abandon a formal runway show.  “I feel like there is a thin threshold there between trashy and glamorous.”  The immobility allowed the crowd to interact with the mannequins and examine the seaming, while the 1966 movie Blow-Up played in the background.

The six-piece preview focused on black and nude colours of Old Hollywood, morphing the high-waisted underwear and brassieres into practical lingerie for the 21st century.  “I think it’s a really important layer of dress,” Remenyi says.  “It’s the first thing you put on in the morning and the foundation of your clothes.”

The French theme continued via French-Canadian designers; Duy, a Vietnamese born-Montreal based designer and Denis Gagnon, a resident and favourite Montreal designer.

Duy sent his models out to Chanel muse, French actress and singer, Vanessa Paradis’ “Divine Idylle” playing in the background.  The series of looks were not so much Paris street style, as they were Nice.  The big city glamour was muted with flowing black and white dresses and hints of colour with light pink shorts and an open-robe yellow dress.  The highlight was the black and white cascading blouse, but still leaving plenty of room for growth.

“How is he not more famous and recognized around the world?” Is the most common question surrounding elusive designer Denis Gagnon. With years of experience designing and showcasing in fashion weeks in Canada, he has potential to be international with a rare Canadian couture approach. 

The first look on the all white runway is a white fringe jumpsuit.  A fringe white jumpsuit?! But who will ever wear that?  It’s art and in an attempt for practicality at Toronto Fashion Week, we often forget about wearable couture.  Plus, I can see Gaga in Gagnon. 

The fringe flare continued with dresses and each fringe swaying back and forth in a multitude of directions, before falling back into place at the end of the runway.  There were no signs of simple fringe flapper inspired dresses (a la H&M last year), but instead exquisitely tailored pieces adorning the body.  Fringe benefits also extended to a marriage with lace, along with black and white striped honed dresses and blouses.

The show’s playlist turns from a slow version of The Korgis “Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime” to a heavy rock cover, when Gagnon, the rock star of design walks the runway to thunderous applause.  Toronto’s learning about fashion, gradually. 

Along with Gagnon, Amanda Lew Kee’s show was one of the most anticipated at LG Fashion Week.  The twenty-one year old’s first collection after graduating from the fashion design program at Ryerson University was fuelled with anticipation for her token palette of black. Not a single look used black.  However, her associative blue lipstick remained, sported by the models, staff and even FDCC President, Robin Kay.

“I didn’t want to be that young designer that does the same thing,” Lew Kee explains backstage after the show.

Neutral, earthly tones were used for her debut SS11 collection inspired by an out of the city trip to Muskoka.  “I took the colour palette and the shape, structure and organic nature and I chose my inspiration from that,” she explains.

“I really like see-through things,” Lew Kee explains her use of mesh.  “Just seeing something, but not really.”  Her entire collection took three months to complete, with her favourite piece being one of the most popular from the show: a metal threaded dress at the front to look like “metal fur.” 

Arcade Fire songs were used for the show, with “Sprawl II” a song about escaping the sprawl and claustrophobia of suburbia, closing the show as Lew Kee walks out.  Clearly Lew Kee’s roads/rues lead out of Toronto onto larger destinations.  Paris is far, but the potential can’t be ignored.   

~ Ivana Markotic