Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Labels Final Showdown

In the last judging session for TFI's New Labels, there was a poignant moment where the judges realized how far the finalists had come through the competition. Montreal-based Patrick L’Arrivee already had orders from 57 retail shops for his namesake outerwear collection. That's right, 57. (Can you even name 57 stores in Canada that sell outerwear?!)

Patrick L'Arrivee's Fall 2012 collection

An example of what to expect for his runway styling proved that Patrick had literally arrived. "You took everything we said, and appreciated it," exclaimed Suzanne Rogers. To win over retail is one thing; to win over Suzanne Rogers is another. 

Patrick L'Arrivee's Fall 2012 collection

The judges agreed ditching the red leather was a good move by Sid Neigum. "I didn't have the time or money to make it meaningful," he admitted. It's important to know where and when to stop when a piece isn't working. Given how many things Sid has had on his plate over the past five months, it highlighted his focus and strength. Between traveling, finishing both a women's and men's collection for Fall 2012, market weeks, store appointments, a fashion show at Toronto Fashion Week, producing and shipping 2012 and researching spring 2013....well, let's just say there wasn't a dull moment. "I love that."

Sid Neigum Fall 2012 womenswear

Jameson Kane had "great hanger appeal" according to judges David Dixon and Arie Assaraf. "Very important." Hard to believe six months ago the label was just a dream. Designers Genevieve Pearson and Stan Capobianco were unanimous in their enthusiasm. "We are so happy we listened to our hearts. What would have happened if we decided not to go for it? So now we are always listening to what our hearts tell us."

Jameson Kane Fall 2012

For Diego Fuchs and Helder Aguiar, the challenge has never been knowing where to go, but the getting there. "Our challenge has been distance and time," said Diego. "I live in Richmond Hill and he lives in Hamilton. And we both work full-time jobs." Evidently, distance makes the bond grow stronger, as the boys noted that every step of producing the [blak]-i (pronounced black eye) was shared quite evenly.

[blak] • i Fall 2012 collection

On Thursday it's all on the line, as Joe Zee says, for these four finalists. Only one can walk away with the big prize. But don't expect anything bitchy behind the scenes. "You'd expect a group of people competing for $25,000 [cash] to be aggressive, to say the least. This is not the case at all. Everyone has been nothing but supportive of each other and everyone in the running is talented and deserving of the prize," surmised Sid.

So Canadian, eh?!

Stay tuned to @TheFList on Twitter for updates from TFI25 starting at 6pm.

Friday, April 27, 2012

One week til TFI25 & the New Labels show

There is only one week until TFI's 25th anniversary celebration, a show which will no doubt leave a fashionable impression on Toronto. The multi-tiered evening weaves a Barbie fashion show featuring looks by Canadian designers, a retrospective installation of 25 looks from the past 25 years (styled by Flare Magazine's Elizabeth Cabral) and of course the final New Labels competition show into one fantastic night at the ROM. 

We've been tracking New Labels since the start, and will be sharing insights from our interviews with the four finalists next week. In the meantime, you only have a few days to get your tickets to the show before they are gone. 

Expect quite show to happen off the runway too -- the evening is black tie optional. I know you're all wondering, what will Suzanne Rogers I be wearing?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

UNBOUND in London Town

Fanshawe College (yes, we're talking London, Ontario) hosted a fashion show last weekend to present the 2012 fashion design program's graduating class.  As this year's emcee, I embarked on a 24-hour trip along with other Toronto fashion faces - designers David Dixon, Arthur Mendonca, Wesley Badanjak and Franco Mirabello plus seasoned industry players Tamar Matossian, Erin O'Brien, Gail McInnes and Natalie Deane - who all appeared as judges of the evening's show.

Fanshawe plans quite a bit of pomp and circumstance into UNBOUND. Held at the hip Museum London, it includes a red carpet, a cocktail party and goody bags for attendees. While most of the attendees are friends and family, I met a number of guests who bought tickets just to see a splashy runway show.

This was my fourth year working with the UNBOUND event, and in my opinion, one of the strongest group collections. Overall Fanshawe's students showed promise in their ideas and wearability of the garments, even if many lacked in execution. (Puckering seams don't lie.) 

Supporting the next generation of fashion is important, perhaps just as much as spotlighting today's current roster of talent. By hosting the judges who are successfully working in the industry, Fanshawe proves how important this is. After all, it could be a Franco Mirabelli or an Arthur Mendonca who gives a graduate their first break. You gotta start somewhere, kid.

Special thanks to Hotel Metro, London's new boutique hotel, for a lovely stay, and great service that went above and beyond! For more pics check out Flare.com.

Best Design winner Andrea Kuntz

Best Design winner Andrea Kuntz

Best Design winner Andrea Kuntz

Best Collections winner Kristin Burgess

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pulling FashionTelevision's Plug

In the week since Bell Media announced FashionTelevision was cancelled after nearly 30 years on the air, the reactions have been a mix of shock and reverence.

The lack of pomp and circumstance around its ending is no surprise in this day and age. To simply disappear seems common in Canadian media. (Remember Canadian Idol? Highest rated show in Canada ever?!) And formality?! Please. Jeanne Beker's tweet broke the news.

FashionTelevision gave the masses access to fashion when it was only granted to a few. I understand why Jeanne and her microphone were no longer considered the force they once were. These days all kinds of media, bloggers and designers themselves are sharing the behind the scenes before the scene even begins.

But aren't there other fashion stories to tell?

Other networks seem to think so. Television has begun to move beyond the design-driven, often catfight-ridden stories, found on the likes of Project Runway. Fashion is a business and shows like All On the Line and Fashion Star are shedding light on that. For the uninitiated, All On the Line features Elle magazine's creative director Joe Zee rescuing designers in the midst of a crisis, helping them identify where they've gone wrong, and mentoring them through the changes needed to take their label in the right direction. Each show ends with a presentation to a select retailer whom Joe feels are the right fit. And after all, with his experience and connections, Joe knows best. (I've met him. He does.)

NBC's Fashion Star gives a roster of independent designers a chance to be discovered on a national scale. Each week they work with their mentors - designer John Varvatos and celebrity designers Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie -- to create and present a single item to reps from three national retail chains: H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The real drama is when the retailers bid on the items. They might make an offer, they might not. They might bid against each other to nab it for their store, as it can only go to one retailer. In any case it's the designer who truly wins if they get a deal -- that item is produced and immediately appears in (American) stores.

Side note: Having seen a winning item at a Manhattan H&M recently, the reality was a watered down version of what we saw on the runway, but nonetheless....

The point is, the business of fashion is not just a business. It can be entertainment. It's a shame Bell Media - which owns the CTV network that carries Fashion Star in Canada - felt that a show with 27 years of storytelling and international audience couldn't tweak their coverage to address fashion's changing tides. Hopefully the FT brand that still stands can continue to represent fashion as an industry, and of course, fashion in Canada in a compelling way. Because right here, right now, that's all we've got.

UPDATE: Jeanne responded to the article via Twitter shortly after posting....
"@theFList Good story Leesa! Have no fear. I'll make sure Bellmedia's fashion/style coverage lives on as FT brand evolves"

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Brad Goreski was Born This Way

In a rather short amount of time, Brad Goreski has vaulted through the pop culture stratosphere to land in our fashion conscious as somewhat of a celebrity. From humble Vogue intern, to meager assistant to celebrity-stylist Rachel Zoe to now styling his own celebrity clientele, as documented on the reality show It's a Brad, Brad World, this bow-tied and be-spectacled dandy from Port Perry, Ontario sports legions of fans to call his own. Given that trajectory, I guess it's no surprise he has released a tell-all memoir Born to Be Brad: My Life and Style.

Brooks Brothers has been hosting Brad's recent book signings - a brilliant association, in my opinion, given Brad's prepster-chic style. I hit Toronto's Bay street store last week to see Brad in person along with fellow fashion superstar (and native Canadian), model Heather Marks.

Brad shares a traditional fashion insider's greeting

Gingerbread cookie a la Brad

Off the Cuff's Lee Romberg works the bow tie cookie

Alberta-bred beauty Heather Marks

Friday, April 13, 2012

America's Next Top Model - the Event

Television fans, mark your calendars. The show we know as America's Next Top Model descends on Toronto as an event May 4, 5 and 6. The weekend unites everything we love about the show - fashion, beauty, modeling competitions - without all the catfights and tears over chopped locks. Expect to see top model all-stars and a few musical guests as well.

British designer Joey Bevan
As the official blogger for the ANTM Live I had the good fortune of sitting in on an open casting for one of the fashion shows. UK designer Joey Bevan - an entertaining personality mix of Evan Biddell wild and wonderful and Philip Sparks dandy - hit Toronto last week to pick models for his shows. Joey designs fiercely fun lingerie and underwear, AND a crazy line of fashion for men and women. (If you're ever asked to sit in on a model casting for underwear, plan to see people seriously trying to impress wearing only their skivvies. Um, awkward.) 

Needless to say, Joey is a super talent, I can't wait to see how his show plays out on stage. Toronto's own Kendra Francis is the event's fashion show producer so we know he's in good hands.

If you're looking for me that weekend, I'll be hosting a couple of style sessions on the French Connection Style Stage and of course, blogging. The entire schedule will be announced soon, but in the meantime you can pick up tickets online.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pattern Loving

We're almost halfway through the week's entries to the Fashion Finder Blogger contest at Pickering Town Centre. Each day we are posting a finalist; one lucky "stylist in the making" will win. Today's finalist, Avery, loves stripes and has a good eye for combining patterns -- a very hot trend right now. Click here to view Avery's style video.

Currently, on the runways of Toronto Fashion Week, we're seeing more stripes and patterns for fall 2012...

Lundstrom Collection, fall 2012. Photo by George Pimentel.

Matis by Lucian Matis, fall 2012. Photo by George Pimentel.

Joe Fresh, fall 2012. Photo by George Pimentel.

March Break Fashion Week at Pickering Town Centre continues through Sunday, March 18th. You still have time to enter the contest and a chance to win a $500 gift certificate to PTC, a Blackberry Playbook from Best Buy Mobile and a chance to appear with the F-list at the America's Next Top Model Live show in May.

I'll be at the mall on Sunday between 12 - 2pm, so come down and let's talk style!