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Strapless and In Spandex, Models Strut Their Superhero-Inspired Looks at the Rivoli

Fashion gives us glimpses into other worlds, whether it's the austere intellectualism of the Belgians or the straight-up sex appeal of the Italians.

Or, in the case of Friday's Made by Sarah Catalfo show, the fashions of Toronto's under-20 club and rave set.

The 20-year-old designer displayed her newest collection, titled "Bandits in Bows," at the Rivoli, after a performance by the spandex-clad Lauren Elle and her back-up dancers. Strutting down a truncated runway fashioned from the Rivoli stage, the collection was like an explosion of the $5 bin at the fabric store, purple sequins, black net, and fuchsia nylon everywhere.

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Ironically, it was the simpler pieces that I thought were the most wearable, including the white cowl-necked t-shirt dress with a hazy gray print, and the super-short tan minidress.

But Catalfo, who started out designing prom dresses when she was in high school, doesn't do plain. "When I see a garment that's just plain, I imagine what I could add to it," she said.

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And add she did: most of the pieces wouldn't look out of place at a late-nineties rave, with fluorescents and synthetic fabrics manifesting themselves in black and neon-yellow spandex minidresses, and teal and cherry-red sheaths draped with sheer black fabric. One electric-blue lamĂŠ strapless dress even had its own neon-yellow cummerbund and hot-pink lace overlay.

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While neons and the outlandishness of the eighties have been enjoying a comeback lately, the haphazard colour combinations here were hard on the eye, rather than stylishly shocking. And, when trying to pull off flamboyance, construction has to be above reproach--here, the cheap-looking fabrics merely added to the amateur feel.

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Also troubling was the fact that everything was insanely low-cut, backless, or short, or usually a combination of the above. I'm all for showing some skin (or even, um, a lot of skin), but many of the dresses didn't even fully cover the model's asses, their cheeks bobbing in plain sight as they made their way back up the few stairs.

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"I design for events where you want to be noticed and to be looked at, like the red carpet, proms, or parties," said Catalfo, whose designs have been worn by petite popster Lights. "This collection was inspired by bandits--by rebelling against the laws of style, they become like superheroes almost."

But to break the laws of style, you gotta know 'em first.

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Photos by Jade Lee Portelli.

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