l'oreal fashion week 2008

L'Oreal Fashion Week: Spring 2009 Collection - Day 2

L'Oreal Fashion Week steamrolled into its second day of shows Tuesday, with a slate of nine shows for packed audiences.

I was shackled to a desk during the first part of the day, but was able to shimmy into my very first Fashion Week outfit - wide-leg Banana Republic black wool pants, dove-grey tee with silk lining poking out, a obnoxious vintage necklace with gobs of looped gold chains, silver ballet flats, Cutler and Gross specs, and my vintage fur-collared Eaton's wool jacket. And I got to the NADA show with a few minutes to spare.

The tent was very chic, all purple and white lighting, and tree branches artfully arcing everywhere. Clothing sightings including a beautiful bell-sleeved white wool coat, corduroy hot-pants, a shiny pink jumpsuit, and the effortless style of Canadian model Stacey MacKenzie, who sported a frothy black frock, a black chiffon bloom at her throat, killer stilettos, and a voluminous red plaid cape, signature curls piled atop her head.

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The NADA show itself? Greece is the word. As indicated by the international runway, Grecian-inspired styles are back (again), and designer Nada Sheppard took this to heart. The pieces had a definite flow to them, with plenty of unforgiving clinging cottons and silks draped this way and that (and reigned in with rugged leather wide belts), with the one-shoulder and thick fabric braids at waist and wrist showing up many times.

I myself was a touch bored, as Grecian, Alberta Ferretti-like styles were everywhere just a year or two ago, and the cinched waist (while I adore it) and ombrĂŠ feels a little tired. The collection itself did have beautiful lines, and a few nice surprises, including the use of hunter green to offset the ethereality of the fairy-dresses, a few bold numbers made from gold paillettes, and gowns made from a unique combination of floor-length plaid silk and aggressive gladiator-like straps.

l'oreal fashion week 2008

The dhoti pant has survived, it seems, into next spring, sadly, and NADA erred a little too close to the iconic Balenciaga "C3P0" leggings with a pair of gold lamĂŠ skinny pants. As for the other pants here, however? Exquisite. The wide-leg white and burgundy high-waisted pants were effortless in their chicness. Overall, a good--but not great--showing.

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While watching the Joeffer Caoc show, I jotted down "nipples!" The nipple-age on display was a direct result of the many thin silks used by Caoc in his very streamlined collection that features a lot of black-and-white shift dresses, sheer sleeveless tops, and white dress shirts.

The models were adorned with fresh faces and pin-straight hair to match the sleekness of the pieces. It was all about cut here, with things like shapeless sack dresses cut tighter and very low in the back, and tops with a high asymmetrical shoulder and fabric overlay.
The contrast between the wide sleeves and flat-front tops and slim skirts was quite striking, as was the appearance of matte black paillettes, black silk half-trenches, and gauzy black dresses that almost looked as if the sequins were melted into the fabric.

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The final look sent down the runway was a real stunner. A black-and-white square neck and flat front gave way to a sparkly gray underlay, little black sheer sleeves, and then a beautiful v-necked back. Heaven.

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One of the few menswear collections shown during Fashion Week, bustle showed a very jaunty collection that had a whiff of the nautical about it. Many of the models came out in a simple blue pinstriped shirt, and there were several rough-and-tumble jackets in rugged navy and olive that would look nice on a yacht. (The models themselves had a delightfully diverse look to them, including a showboating guy with the mohawk to a scruffy one with the Seth Rogen curls to an effete, strangely robotic skinny-minny with slicked back hair.)

The waistcoats and shiny white dress shirts on offer jazzed up the affair, as did the butter-soft wheat- and pebble-coloured suits and the cream-coloured half-trenches worn jauntily open. Some of the white shirt and suit combos were a little repetitive, but it was the line's sass that saved it, as Ruth Promislow and Shawn Hewson's show had a nice feel of tongue-in-cheek, too, which included sending a beautiful, andro chick down the runway in a crisp blazer--open and sans shirt--and cropped pant, and the detailing that kept poking out at me.

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There was the patterned underside of the flipped-up collars, which would offer up a pinstripe or a contrasting colour to the actual blazer or coat. There was the subtle, yet playful map-like print on a short-sleeved dress shirt. And there was the use of a shiny denim-like fabric that brought more pizzazz to a couple of more staid blazer cuts.

My favourite part of the show was the delicious, bold pattern of thick blue-and-white stripes that took the line up about two notches. The pattern added real fashion heft to a blazer (with white piping along the lapels for extra flair), under coat collars, vests, and, of course, to the full-on suit that strolled down the runway in the pattern. That suit sold me on the collection.

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One of Canadian design's (slightly) older hands, David Dixon's collection was sponsored by The Bay and had an African bent to it, which included a big baobob-type tree projected on the runway and various intonations and type about it.

It seemed a little vague and only somewhat relevant to the collection, but the actual clothes trotted down the runway were enough to dispel any raised eyebrows about the purported theme.

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Models in red lipstick with their hair sideswept and side-ponied wore a remarkable range of looks that ran the gamut from a silvery-black shift made from feather-like leather fringe all the way down to a floor-length flowing gown of patterned red silk a la Roberto Cavalli.

The designer only misstepped when he strayed too far from the clean lines and colours and textures--I found the zinnia-printed boxy jacket and the sparkly old-lady gowns a really jarring note in an otherwise mesmerizing collection.

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Stops in between included gorgeous structured raw white silk cocktail frocks with bandage-like tops and slightly pouffed bottoms, beaded black flapper dresses, and a range of pieces in drop-dead gorgeous coral jersey that came in swingy little mini-dress, one-shouldered floor-length, and a strapless concoction that was double-draped across both sides from the breast.

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It was a wonderful way to end the evening--a great variety of looks, with plenty of neutrals and colour, and different shapes to keep the eye excited.

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Many thanks to blogTO guest photographer (and fellow first-time Fashion Week-er) Nicole Andrews, who took these photos.

Tune in tomorrow for daytime show reportage from Anita Clarke, plus reviews of Evan Biddell, Thien Le, Andy The-Anh, and Joe Fresh Style.


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