Heart Truth Carlu

Red dresses shine at the Heart Truth Fashion Show

Sure, I'm a supporter of charity events. And obviously, I can tolerate a fashion show. But I'm not a huge fan of the two combined. That's not to say that yesterday's 4th annual Heart Truth Fashion Show wasn't entertaining - or informative. Each year, the Heart & Stroke Foundation taps a variety of Canadian talent and awkward television personalities to parade down a runway to raise awareness for women's heart health. And each year, Canadian designers are tasked with re-inventing- and in most cases butchering -the "little red dress that could."

This is also the first time that the H&S Foundation plucked the event from the Toronto Fashion Week schedule and crafted its own headlining shindig at the ritzy Carlu. So, you came expecting a show, and yes, they tried their very hardest to give you one. In total, 21 celebutantes hit the stage wearing 19 different red creations by Canadian houses. To their credit, the whole thing felt like it was designed to be a benefit concert; rife with (almost-sexy) slinking and slithering, male models in waiting to accompany ladies downstage, and a soundtrack fit for a NOW compilation CD. But it's all in good fun, right?

The best dressed, as you'd except, also happened to be the most "high-profile" on the rooster. The model crop included still-lovely soul singer Deborah Cox who opened the show (to her own song, of course) in a tasteful, Grecian-esque number by Toronto native Kaelen, who is incidentally fresh from a showing at New York Fashion Week.

Other highlights included BT Toronto host Dina Pugliese, not only for her panty-flashing antics and filling the arm-raising/fist-pumping quotient for the evening, but also for her shockingly wearable thigh-exposing dress by the under-the-radar LOVAS line that also showed off a fake, but still pretty badass, leg tattoo.

The height of talent, and craftsmanship, came at the end of the night. Elisha Cuthbert induced cheers in Project Runway Canada winner Sunny Fong's '60s redux knotted fringe dress, and funnygirl Andrea Martin pulled off the evening's standout piece: A big red wedding dress by Farley Chatto with loads of tulle and a bouquet of roses to match. It was all very Diana Ross in Mahogany.

This time around, men were also invited to walk for the cause. TV personalities Rick Campanelli and Colin Mochrie, and ex-Maple Leaf Jim McKenny, were all outfitted by Yorkville sartorial empire V Hazelton standard suits with red touches, the most outrageous being Campanelli's red trousers. My only thought here: Was Bustle not available?

Other hits of the collected showing also happened to be the most wearable: A jersey staple from Greta Constantine on Two and a Half Men siren Emmanuelle Vaugier, Ross Mayer's pretty white and red strapless dress with floral appliquĂŠ (one of about 14 - an unintentional red thread?) on National ballerina Chan Hon Goh; and a Paul Hardy leather mini - with top and tattoo sleeves to match - on too-awesome Buffy Sainte Marie.

And that's what bothers me: despite these great efforts by Canadian talent, the dresses will simply remain as part of some archive rather than, say, be auctioned off for the cause. Add dinner and tables, a Suzanne Rogers shine, and Rick Mercer as host, and now we've got a charity event worth a few hours.

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

Writing by Paul Aguirre-Livingston. Photos by Dennis Marciniak.

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