Like everything else this year, fashion had its ups and downs. On the one hand, we had some very interesting moments worth all the celebration in the world. However, there were far too many downs than ups this year, what with the death of an icon, the celebration of utterly forgettable collections and designers, and the spewing out of horrible trends. The fashion world felt like a rollercoaster this year, and not a very fun one to be completely honest. Here’s hoping 2018 turns the fashion world around and gives us all something worth cheering about.
One of this year’s great fashion moments had to be when the original Supermodels Naomi, Claudia, Cindy, Carla, and Helena closed the Versace ss18 show which paid tribute to the late Gianni Versace. Seeing these legends together on the runway again gave us life! – Drew Brown, Editor-in-Chief
Christopher Kane and Demna Gavasalia at Balenciaga trying to make fashionable a thing is definitely my pick for worst fashion moment of 2017. If you are not a doctor or chef, then crocs should never be worn no matter the price tag or designer attached to them. – Drew Brown, Editor-in Chief
In 2017, Monnaie de Paris presents a series of Face Value Coins depicting France seen by Jean Paul Gaultier. In the collection named “France by Jean Paul Gaultier”, the cities, the provinces or the regions are seen through the eyes of the French fashion designer and are presented on silver and gold coins of 10, 50 and 200 euros. Aurore Evee, Fashion Contributor
(Photo by WWD/REX/Shutterstock) Naomi Campbell closing Azzedine Alaïa Couture Fall 2017.
The fashion world was dealt a major blow this year with the death of beloved designer Azzedine Alaïa in November. While the entirety of Mr Alaïa’s career needs to be celebrated, I want to give a nod to his Fall 2017 Couture collection, which was shown this past summer. It had been six years since the designer’s last couture show, and he delivered hugely on high expectations. The collection could serve as a representation of Alaïa signatures: the presence of the incomparable Naomi Campbell, clear examples of the designer’s skills with balance and weight and the sheer beauty of the clothes: each serving as a love letter to the female form. Mr Alaïa, you will be missed, but thank you for leaving us with one last show. Natasha Grodzinski, Contributor
It seems that today’s luxury fashion consumer and fashion industry pros have both taken a liking to the idea of ever-changing trends, rather than solidified and long lasting style. It seems everyone is losing their minds over the constant pumping out of trends that’s become synonymous with high fashion in the last two years. Instead of celebrating forward-thinking designers who create garments meant to last and inspire, the fashion world has become infatuated with the stunts, shenanigans, and the smoke and mirrors of some designers who consistently throw together collections for the sake of shock value (ahem… Vetements) rather than fashion and art. This new found infatuation with fast luxury fashion has become so ingrained in today’s fashion world that many of the “trendwear” designers that have sprung up over the last 3-4 years are now being hailed as geniuses and being heavily rewarded for their work. While true artists are looked over far too often. However, there is hope. Earlier this month, fashion’s wunderkind Jonathan Anderson took home two awards at this year’s Fashion Awards celebration. Anderson was awarded Accessories Designer of the Year for Loewe and British Womenswear Designer of the Year for J.W Anderson, which was both well deserved and well earned. Hopefully, Jonathan’s recognition, as well as the recognition and awards that were given to designers Raf Simons and Stella McCartney may be a sign that fashion is slowly starting to veer away from the spectacle of trendwear and finally get back on track to celebrating strong, lasting fashion. – Christopher Zaghi, Fashion Editor
With the all that good that comes with fashion, there is an immense amount things can just become the absolute worst. A good example of this is sock heels. It seems every designer and their grandmother felt like designing some type of sock heel for their collections. It was as if you couldn’t get away from them. The cam with block heels, round heels, lucite heels; they came in denim and stretch lame. They came in ankle length variations, thigh high, and even as pants/boots. The options were endless, but no matter how well they were made or how cheaply they were made (I’m looking at you DIY lovers who cut holes in Nike socks…) the sock heel is by far one of the ugliest creations to gain prominence in 2017. Please make it stop. And that’s all that needs to be said about these abominations. – Christopher Zaghi, Fashion Editor
There’s not denying that getting older changes things, but these days the mature woman sure knows how to cherish her sense of style. Thanks to social media and influential icons beyond their 40s, the fashion industry is finally changing gears to speak to women of all ages. Since fashion is a form of art and creative self-expression, age shouldn’t dictate style. Though we still have a long way to go, the latest runways reflected this vision of beauty and style. For example, Simone Rocha showcased generations of beautiful women in her Fall/Winter 17/18 runway show. models in sixties to nineties marched on the catwalk to prove that her collection speaks for women in all age groups.
Versace’s runway show was a reflection of the real world shoppers. The director Piergiorgio Del moro decided to cast multiple generations of powerful and fashionable women like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claduia Schiffer, Carla Bruni, and Helena Christensen, who are in their 40s and 50s. They brought confidence and glamor to the stage.
This approach seeped into fast fashion retail stores like Zara, which decided to cast a more diverse group of women. The brand launched a new Timeless collection for FW18 with classic and modern wardrobe staples, featuring three industry veterans — Malgosia Bela, Yasmin Warsame, and Kristina de Coninck.
Jane Fonda is another example that age is just a number and that a sense of style is eternal. The 79-year-old actress walked on the red carpet and attended fashion events wearing the latest trends by appraised designers. Fonda defies the notion that good looks are exclusively for the younger generation.
Here are some tips to help you maintain your sense of style at any age:
Timeless style comes from understanding who you are and standing behind your fashion choices. Once you feel comfortable in what you are wearing, no matter your age, it shows on the outside. Always remember that the outfit you pull off should make you feel beautiful.
Rules are meant to be broken
When it comes to ‘dressing your age’, forget the rules. Nowadays, fashion is all about combining high and low fashion. An ‘anything goes’ attitude is the current trend. You can push the fashion world forward and break some rules from time to time. Simply look at Iris Apfel’s signature style, which includes rounded giant eyeglasses, outfits from different cultures mixed with haute couture pieces.
Back to the basics
There are a few timeless pieces that every woman should own in her closet. For example, a tuxedo jacket that can be worn from day to night, dressed up or down; a classy high-waisted trousers that flatters your body shape; a white button down shirt, which is one of those pieces that never go out of style. Once you find pieces that work for you and flatter your figure, stick to them.
Less is more
The art of dressing becomes more refined with age. The older you get, the less shiny and glossy items you should have in your wardrobe. That doesn’t mean you can’t add drama to your outfit. Just keep in mind that elegance is key. Opt for classy shapes and structured pieces and add a pop of color or prints with an unexpected accessory. The simple and the quite can make a bigger impact than the loud.
Fitted not frumpy
Don’t be afraid to reveal the parts of your body that show off your assets. You can still wear slim silhouettes and beautifully fitted dresses that show flesh. Wearing baggy and oversized pieces can achieve the opposite of the effect you’re looking for. For example, a pencil skirt can work to your advantage and increase confidence.
A sugegasa hides his face and a blue ruffled dress covers his body — just a few dreadlocks that are sticking out of the umbrella-like hat tell us that it is not a samurai. The hidden figure is Atlanta rapper Young Thug on the cover of his mixtape, Jeffery.
This amount of steeze could astonish or freak you out. The truth is, Young Thug and many others are breaking fashion rules and creating their own.
Jaden Smith beams with confidence when the 18-year-old actor and rapper appears in different skirts and leggings, whether he’s on the streets on in the pages of TeenVogue, which named him one of its ultimate fashion icons.
Rihanna, who received the CFDA Style Icon Awardand was honoured as “fashion’s most exciting muse” by Vogue in 2014, continues to inspire women and designers to experiment with rebellious looks. From hitting the summer streets of London in her oversized Raf Simons to her Fenty Puma Creeper winning Footwear Shoe of the year, Rihanna’s continuedinfluence on fashion is undeniable.
When choosing what to wear, some people might attribute themselves a particular gender. For the current rule breakers, however, gender is irrelevant when it comes to fashion; everyone is allowed to express themselves in whichever way they like. Finally, some are just tired of fast fashion that seems to change its trends few times a week. The fashion-wise vote for kookiness and creativity. There are no rules, particular trends, or formulas when it comes to personal style anymore.
“It’s good to step outside of the box sometimes and expand what you wanna do,” says Cole Ryan, who owns ODNAB, men’s clothing store located at 677 Queen Street West. “I’m pretty open-minded in terms of what I wear, like C2H4 Los Angeles fur jacket is one of my favourite pieces,” Ryan says. “It is something that a lot of people don’t really want to wear because it’s a little bit too much, but I like flashier stuff, and I feel that I have to set my style a little bit above the norm because I have a store.”
Ryan is a big fan of Scott Disick’s style because the TV personality has very interesting swag: “He wears a pair of En Noir jeans with Chelsea boots, and he also wears a purple suit with slippers.”
Since women try on and buy items for themselves at ODNAB, Ryan is not sure anymore whether his business is just a men’s store: “Everything is turning to unisex as opposed to separate male and female clothes in terms of fashion. I have a lot of female customers, and at the same time everything in the store is what I personally would wear.” Many girls find baggy items both comfortable and stylish.
Chantelle Blagrove, a team leader at Kit and Ace on Queen Street West, says she admires those who explore and create new crazy styles. Watching the Grammys and film festivals, she often sees women like Rihanna wearing a suit or men like Young Thug wearing bows. Balgrove says because those young celebrities are in the spotlight now, they could educate people on how there’s no straight lines in the way someone dresses.
“I think it’s dope that someone can just leave their house in full confidence not really caring what people think about them,” says Balgrove who just bought an Oak + Fort oversized denim coat with sherpa lining. “Eighty percent of my wardrobe is menswear because it’s comfier. I don’t like things close to my body and sweaters and hoodies just fit me better.”
Blagrove says she is proud to have a better vintage tee collection than a half of the guys she knows. “Most guys are going to borrow my clothes,” she says, laughing.
Style conservatives could knit their perfectly fashionable brows but street culture and adherence to originality have taken a huge bite out of the fashion world.
Today, more than ever, fashion is beginning to challenge our way of thinking. “People don’t care if you do something normally,” Ryan says. “You walk down Queen West and observe things around you. You see something you saw in a magazine. You see guys wearing women’s clothes. It’s cool. Where fashion is going is positive because it’s not so black and white. There are grey areas which are fun to explore.”
One aspect of fashion that is always open for discussion is its relationship with society. The two entities coexist and function by challenging, as well as reflecting one another. For example, runway models at Paris Fashion Week are notably taller and thinner than at other fashion weeks because the city’s majority is that way as well; it makes sense. Runway shows, magazine/editorial coverage, and advertising campaigns in West fashion markets i.e. Paris and London predominantly use Caucasian (white) models because their respective populations are largely white, and people are instinctively drawn to what they relate to.
Let’s take this notion and apply it to a pressing issue: the apparent lack of ethnic diversity in Toronto’s fashion market, a city known for its diversity. If fashion is supposed to reflect society, then why is the gap between runway and consumer steadily increasing? In this particular aspect, our fashion market disappoints us.
The lack of diversity in Toronto’s fashion market, not only carries social consequences, but sets notable challenges for working models of colour. Sadiq Desh (Elmer Olsen Models) is a Toronto-based model originally from Nigeria. He believes that working as a black model can either “work to your advantage or your disadvantage”. Clients and casting directors decide which models are right for their particular project and essentially “have their pick” says Desh. If they have previously worked with a model before, they will most likely hire that same model again – a rational practice, but one that involves advantages for some and disadvantages for others. There are “token-black models” says Desh, and that’s where the most prominent advantages lie; a (racially-specific) token model becomes a selected favourite amongst numerous other racially diverse models. In a notoriously competitive profession, it seems that dark-skinned models, as well as other racially diverse models compete against one another in ways lighter-skinned models do not have to.
Photo by Mark Binks
Nathaniel Luu (Spot6 Management), who comes from a Chinese and Vietnamese ethnic background, finds that he compares himself “to all the other Caucasian models”. He often expects clients to choose them; “I’m just there in case they need a more diverse group” he says. Luu’s comments suggest that non-Caucasian (non-white) models are predominantly used as accessories to compliment the overall image of a project, and less as forefront necessities. The lack of racial diversity in fashion is not a new discussion: “everyone’s aware, but nobody’s talking about it” says Sadiq, and he’s right. There should be no fear in having conversation; if discussion cannot be done publicly, then there must be something inherently wrong within the industry.
Back in 2013, Naomi Campbell and Iman (who are part of fashion’s diversity coalition) took an unprecedented step in publicly acknowledging the lack of racial diversity on the New York runway shows that year. Fashion’s diversity coalition, led by fashion-activist Bethann Hardison, penned four letters to organizations like the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) that addressed the lack of racial diversity on the runways and called out several high-profile designers i.e. Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and Marc Jacobs who contributed to it.
Since then, things have shifted. Preceding runway presentations at New York Fashion Week have increased the number of non-Caucasian models, but only slightly. This past August, Details magazine released their fashion fall issue; its cover, photographed by Mark Seliger, showcased 31 of the current top male models sporting looks from the Calvin Klein Fall/Winter 2015 collection. Amongst the 31 men, only four models of colour were present.
Moreover, Valentino’s Summer/Spring 2016 collection presented at Paris Fashion Week earlier this fall used motifs inspired by images and representations of “African” culture. Despite strikingly beautiful and diverse designs, the most striking aspect of the presentation was the designer’s dominant use of white models. The collection showcased a total of 90 different looks, but only 10 of them were worn by dark-skinned female models.
Still, to say no change has occurred is deniable. Swedish retail-clothing company H&M recently partnered with Paris designer Balmain for a fashion collaboration to be released later this month. The campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti, features high-profile models Jourdan Dunn, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Dudley O’Shaughnessy, and Hao Yun Xiang – a racially diverse group of models by any standard.
“I think that now, many international companies within and outside of fashion are really trying to make a huge effort in diversity within their campaigns and brands” says Myles Sexton (B&M Models). The Toronto-based model has been modeling for nearly 7 years. “When I started modeling, I did more womenswear than menswear”, which was “before the time of ‘androgynous’ models or gender fluidity” Sexton explains. “I think it was generally hard for myself at castings, trying to book work and make others understand what I represented” he says. Models like Kirsten Owen and Andreja Pejic (represented by PUSH management) have helped pave the way for gender-ambiguous fashion, and with androgynous models like Seth Atwell (managed by Peggi Lepage) on the rise, the increasing amount of androgyny will only continue to diversify fashion.
Speaking about his earlier years of work, Sexton remembers walking “into a casting and [having] the room go silent; there would always be this awkward pause before someone would speak and realize that I was a man and not a woman”. This made Sexton feel “uncomfortable”, but for him, “you can’t create change if you feel comfortable.” Myles makes a crucial distinction regarding real change. Although change is difficult, his comments insinuate that challenging boundaries and pushing past them is the only way to implement any kind of positive change towards diversity.
This past season at World MasterCard Fashion Week (WMCFW) saw some designers cast a variety of different models. Most notably, Hayley Elsaesser who returned this season with a strikingly colourful collection of womens/menswear presented by a very diverse selection of models.
I wanted to know how many non-white models were used throughout WMCFW, and more specifically, if that number changed among the different runway shows. Keeping track of each individual model was difficult, especially when some were recycled within a show and used again for another. Instead, I decided to keep track of how many looks were presented and kept a tally of looks worn by white and non-white models. Below are my findings. The last column denotes the percentage of looks worn by non-white models against the total number of looks in that particular show.
Caucasian worn “Looks”
Non-Caucasian worn “Looks”
Total # of Looks
NO99 WAYNE GRETZKY
Calculations reveal that 36% of the runway presentations had less than 15% looks worn by non-Caucasian models and that 86% of them had less than30% looks worn by non-Caucasian models. There is a dramatically unequal rapport between white and non-white models on the runway. Moreover, amongst a total of 23 runway shows only 3 of them used non-Caucasian models to either open or close a show; not one presentation saw the use of non-white models do both, that is, open and close the same show. The two tables below involve the same type of tallies for the RED Emerging Designer Showcase and Mercedes-Benz Start Up runway presentation. The numbers here seem better, but only because no collection exceeded 8 looks.
Red Emerging Designer Showcase
Total # of Looks
JI AXIN XU
BLUE COLLAR TRIBE
Caucasian worn “Looks”
Non-Caucasian worn “Looks”
Total # of Looks
The predominant use of white models over models of colour is problematic – especially in Toronto, Canada’s largest city distinguished for its ethnic and multicultural diversity. The choices made to use white models perpetuates a very specific type of beauty as an ideal; more importantly, it places social value on that ideal. The perpetuation of such an ideal establishes a social hierarchy based solely on phenotype. The lack of racially diverse models being used within and outside of fashion socially segregates individuals based on their skin colour and/or their ethnic features – and this has tremendously negative consequences; what does it say to people who fit that ideal and to those that do not? Naomi Campbell said it best: “it doesn’t matter what colour you are. If you’ve got the right talent, you should be up there having the opportunity to do the job.”