MArk Fast

Fast and Kale double up at the Trump Tower (Video)

If we compared Toronto's fashion week to a new school year, the Philip Sparks show would easily be scheduled pick-up day and Thursday's Mikhael Kale and Mark Fast double-header would be our first assembly. Held on the ninth floor of the gravely-unfinished, but still-exclusive Trump Tower, the guest list for this one was limited, capped at about 100 of the city's most serious fashionphiles - with hard hats were in full effect. There were even rumors that Beyonce's stylist and other New York-types were in attendance, but no one looked out of place or particularly incensed at the show's 45-minute delay.

After two minutes of dead silence and awkward glances between freshmen and seniors, Principal Jeanne Beker emerged to lead a panel discussion with the two designers, forcing editors to endure banal rants of inspirations, muses and how the whole project came together before the show. (In case you're wondering, Kale met Canadian-born, London-based Fast last summer, and the two played with the idea of showing together ever since.)

Considering Fast showed his collection at London Fashion Week just a short month ago, this joint effort was decidedly in Kale's favour; until now, his low-key presentations have succeed in earning him a cult-like standing, but have failed to draw any serious crowds because of conflicting events.

And finally, Kale's thumping bass began, parts of the Trump Tower crumbled and we were knee-deep in a casting call for Britney's new video. That's what he does best, that Kale: statement looks. His fall/winter 2011 offering was true to form with indulgent and provocative dresses and outerwear in silk, chiffon and leather; video vixen meets Brant House booth babe meets rebellious socialite à la Serena van der Woodsen.

The palette was relatively concise, though, featuring mostly reds, greys and black. Kale especially succeeded when using a silk tweed material for leggings and a jacket with a crystal cuff. Cutout dresses are also the new body-con, and there was no shortage here: a mini-dress closing look was chain embroidered and an "oxblood red" dress with the same embroidered rose detailing actually made me "Woah" out loud. Other Kale risks, but still winners, included a pearl rose mini-dress with fresh water pearls stitched along the back, and a gem crystal silk-sleeved jacket with lizard-finished leggings.

Knitwear aficionado Mark Fast closed our first fashion assemblage with a collection inspired by "a wolf in sheep's clothing"; in other words, a collection as soft and sweet as his speaking voice, but still as aggressive and strong as his talent.

Fast sent down a collection of dresses and coats with cheeky names like "big bad wolf" and "wolf's tooth" in luscious fabrics like wool, mohair and merino. His opening piece, on a model that seemed too good to be from Toronto, Fast sent down one of those attention-commanding wolf coats in black wool and mohair, a ridiculously excessive and bountiful creation that had the schoolgirl in all of us squealing just a little bit.

Well-edited, and impeccably stitched, there wasn't a piece out of place; making you wonder if seeking distance (say, across the Atlantic) would give other Canadian designers the same sort of perspective. Even though he's famous for curve-hugging dresses and knit leggings, Fast still makes sense for fall because he's versatile - and business savvy.

This season, he partnered with Canadian leather giant Danier to incorporate their Italian lamb leather in a few pieces like a cut out jump suit that would have made Halle Berry's Catwoman a little more bearable. And instead of a red riding hood, there was a black leather cropped parka that Goth princesses will knock off the world over.

To further seal his versatility and commercial appeal, there was a small selection of shearling pieces (it's back, FYI), like a crop top and matching skirt and, of course, a sleek sleeveless dress worth wearing all year long.

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A special thanks to Peroni for sponsoring our coverage of Toronto Fashion Week.

Photos and video by Istoica. Writing by Paul Aguirre-Livingston.

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