Jean Pierre Braganza

Jean Pierre Braganza sets a high bar at The ShOws

You probably wouldn't know designer Jean Pierre Braganza by name, but one look at his spring/summer 2012 collection and you'll never forget it. On Day 2 of The ShOws, it was Braganza who set the bar, and high - probably for all the designers participating - with his sharp visual shapes and themes and his ravenous, graphic prints.

It's the first time Toronto fashion-goers have probably heard his name, and the lobby talk is much of the same: "I'm so excited to see Jean Pierre Bra-GAN-za. Is that how you say it? It's hard, eh? Anyway, because you don't see much of his stuff." Yeah, you don't see much of his stuff here, but the boy - nay, man, because it takes a true adult to design such beautiful clothing - has been busy making waves in Europe.

In September, the London-born (and now based), Canada-raised Braganza landed on almost every major style blog and three editions of Vogue (British, Australian, Italy) when he showed an incarnation of this very collection in his hometown. When the lights go down, it's like the opening sequence of Drive, all synth-y and subdued.

If you've been keeping up with the Braganza hype, then you've heard by now that his go-to answer on the topic of inspiration has been "Cornwall, England in the 1920s." It makes sense, and five looks in, you can see reflections of history and the sweeping English countryside against temperamental, crashing waves (geography lesson: Cornwall is sandwiched by the Atlantic Ocean and the Celtic Sea).

With a mostly monochromatic palette to start, Braganza showed he excels at creating a silhouette, with a perfect blend of modest (a nod to the era of his inspiration) and form-fitting when it matters; fabrics, in turn, ranged from delicate and airy sheer to silk that falls just right in the light. Most of the message was in the details: colour paneling and cutouts among the more younger, experimental pieces show that Braganza's not all serious, and such pieces serve to break up the mix between power dressing and power playing.

But when it is about showing he's all business, tuxedo pants and nouveau suiting options were impeccable and tasteful, perfectly contrasting floor-length dresses and a coral halter jumper that was not lost in the translation of an era. And the prints? Well, see them for yourself; they need no words.

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Photos by Jesse Milns


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