Toronto Fashion Week Preview

Spring / Summer 2013

Ford's Matt Leyes for Jeremy Laing

the shOws (SS/13)
photo: Steve Alkok (

The season of air kisses and indoor sunglasses is now well underway, with what's been labelled "rogue fashion week" (highlighted by the shOws and The Collections) put to bed, and World Mastercard Fashion Week kicking off tonight.

By now you know this is the first season of IMG Fashion's handling of WMCFW, and with that comes higher expectations.

In the past few years, under the often unpredictable leadership of the Fashion Design Council of Canada's Robin Kay, there was often a celebration of designers showing outside the official calendar. As calls for the doyenne's resignation persisted, her own resilience seemed to solidify (and to her credit things got a lot better in recent seasons, which not so coincidentally had IMG providing plenty of guidance). But as Kay dug her heels in more firmly, designers looked for other venues; ones that gave them more control at a lower cost. Those that opposed Kay's direction were only too happy to follow.

the shOws debuted with the Fall/Winter 2011 collections, and with it considerable discussion that it could be the impetus not just for a parallel fashion week, but in time claim Toronto's fashion week tiara for its own. Its creator, Paola Fullerton, never publicly stated that she sought to take over, but she certainly heard from many others that they would prefer she did. With IMG now not only in the picture, but supplying the canvas, the shOws is going to have to push harder to emphasis its own merits (far lower cost to designers, tightly edited guest list, better rapport with key media) in order to keep the expats interested.

The Collections, on the other hand, was last week's contribution from The Fashion Collective (which previously worked inside the FDCC / fashion week framework). A year ago there were 35 shows on the official fashion week calendar, of which the collective was responsible for recruiting and producing more than a third of them. This year The Collections showcased just six designers, although each among that number was established and a definite draw.

Next's Anna Edwards for Sid Neigum

the Collections (SS/13)
photo: Mark Binks (
Plaid Magazine online (
What happened last week, to be honest, was a headache for those of us who would have liked to have seen both The Collections and the shOws. A scheduling snafu had both events running concurrently at different ends of downtown. Wanted to see Chloé Comme Parris? Hope you were prepared to miss Tanya Tucker. Interested in Antonio Azzuolo's hometown debut? Forget about local fave, Sid Neigum.

I'm a big fan of the organizers of both events, but in a market the size of Toronto there's no way two sets of shows should fall on the same two days, then nothing happen in the following four days leading up to WMCFW. If anyone did benefit, its the models who suddenly had less competition as two sets of producers bid for their services.

As the Globe & Mail's Amy Verner correctly pointed out on Saturday, one very positive move IMG made early was to lock down the services of Carolyn Quinn, who has for years smoothed out the FDCC's shenanigans and acted with class when dealing with agents at their angriest. She's now running WMCFW with a wealth of experience dealing with ups, downs, egos and insecurities. With the level of professionalism expected from IMG and the continuity Quinn provides, expect the calls get louder to bring everything under one roof.

Long-time Toronto Star fashion reporter Derick Chetty said as much in an open letter to IMG that ran in Monday's edition. "The ideal scenario would be a one-week showcase packed with relevant offerings to highlight a strong Canadian fashion industry brimming with design talent. So, I'm hoping in seasons to come you will be able to persuade all the great Canadian designers to show in your tent." Another feature in Monday's Star features a similar plea from the likes of designer Evan Biddell and model / celebrity Stacey McKenzie.

For my part, I'm looking to see if IMG can improve upon the positive steps the FDCC made in recent years. The official handbook states designers are responsible for providing food for their models backstage. This isn't new. What would be new would be seeing this policy enforced.

The FDCC also made strides in protecting the privacy of models, but there's still room to improve by limiting the number of dirtbags with camera phones and backstage passes.

And then there's the small matter of improving the pay for models. At this point I'm just hopeful the prestige that comes with the IMG acronym will encourage designers to take more pride in their the overall presentation. If the world's leading fashion producer is drawing more focus to what our designers have to offer, then let's hope those same designers grasp the importance of the talent charged with bringing their collections to life.

NOTE: This season's show stream live at


Blogs We Follow

Cailin Hill (The Model Burnbook)

Models x Models (Models x Models)

Liis Windischmann's (14+ LouLou blog)

Laura Kell (A Model Life)

Madison Schill (Chic Greek Geek)

Kathleen Burbridge (Kathleen in Wonderland)

Ania Boniecka (A n i a . B)

Shawn Dezan (motivated//ambition)