TOM* Fashion Week 2018 | Review

Guests entering the 8th season of TOM* Toronto Men's/Women's Fashion Week were treated to the experience of stepping inside the enormous 46 year old Toronto Star building. Ahhh. Toronto: The cradle of culture, a melting pot of art, music, and fashion influenced by an eclectic variety of visions and taste from across the world.

It all started on March 9th, and it was the site of back-to-back TOM* Men's and Women's fashion shows, each before an audience of 200-300 people eager to capture images of the models strutting the runway presenting Fall/Winter 2018.

The Texas based menswear brand Austen Dor opened TOM* Men's Fashion Week with Mike Dub, Winner of Supermodel Canada 2017, as he transcended the “bad ass Clint Eastwood look” perfectly. With killer and clean tailored suits, designers Sami Ansari and Kris Daswani incorporated some more relaxed pieces into the mix as well, making for a modern yet sexy look. Being the first show to start the TOM* Men's Fashion week, Austen Dor set the standards high, and was met with a boisterous applause.

While the guests enjoyed drinks and bites between each show, Redken Canada, one of the main sponsors of TOM*, ran a marvel of its own backstage whilst preparing each model for the runway. It was a scene of organized chaos, a room filled with products, blow dryers, mirrors, and beautiful people reflected within them. “All models come in three hours before each show and we keep working until the shows are finished, as a well oiled machine.” Said Cindy Duplantis, this season’s lead stylist for TOM*, while styling one of the male models with long locks for Burntlime . “One of the biggest trends that is happening right now is we are using a lot of natural texture with barbering. So you are getting this really fun balance of keeping length to the hair if it is on the top and doing some barbering on the side. It is all about balancing out both textures.”

As the show progressed, designers conquered the runway with their collections one after the other. Canada’s Shelli Oh showed us a line full of monochromatic hues, unconventional cropped coats, and proof that she does tailored jackets really, really well.  

Kenneth Barlis’ reigns from the Philipines, and his line was a 180 degree contrast to anything else that was presented during men's F/W18. His show began with a short film (in partnership with EMJET media) that illustrated the personal growth of a woman through hardship, love, and experience. The line was filled with fantasy menswear featuring kings, princes, and princesses engulfed in velvet, gold, and glitter.

Canadas renound designer David Dixon presented his collection at the TOM* women's fashion week, and for a cause. He took inspiration from a painting done by Doctor John Semple, a surgeon from the Women’s College Hospital.

“I have been designing for about 23 years or so. For me, I use to do two collections an year, you know, spring and fall. Over the years, I felt that I didn’t need to do that as much in the traditional sense. Right now, when I do a collection showing, it is either for something that is an anniversary, or to get a conduit for a conversation. In this case, we are working for the Women’s College Hospital and Women's Cancer so the collection is based on that development.”

We also asked David Dixon what he thought the future of fashion looked like, and how our home-grown designers contrast from the rest:

“What is fascinating about Canadian fashion is because we are a relatively a young country, we are known for our quality, our design aesthetic due to our international flavour, but with a north American sensibility to it. We make clothing that is functional yet inspirational. We are not just doing it for runway shows, or the glits and the glam. We are here to make people happy. “

The MENSFASHION4HOPE and WOMENSFASHION4HOPE charity component of TOM* brought forth a lot of cheers and laughter from all participants and fans alike, benefiting the Kol Hope Foundation and SickKids. The public got a chance to donate money in order to see their favourite celebrities walk the runway. All proceeds are donated to the SickKids Hospital via the Kol Hope Fund at SickKids to help improve the condition and lives of children with congenital diseases. The mission of The Kol Hope Foundation for children is to show love, compassion and support for all children with disabilities.This years' celebs included Artur Adamski (Dancing with the Stars), Nav Bhatia (Toronto Raptors Superfan), TFC soccer player Jozy Altidore, and Miss Venezuela Keysi Sayago to name a few.

More Canadian designers took the stage, with almost all the shows being streamed live on Facebook. Montreal’s Di Carlo Couture had her pulse on beautiful statement gowns and dresses. The show celebrated classic and modern feminine style and power.

Another Montreal raised designer Mikael Derderian and his Mikael D line had the audience in awe over his beautiful collection, and was definitely a fan favourite. The collection featured avant garde evening wear that really showcased his brilliant craftsmanship. Everything from beginning to end in terms of presentation was executed with perfection, which gives insight into Mikael's previous studies in cinematography.

Photography: Hassan MO

TOM* took Torontonians on a 6 day visually imaginative adventure through design and collections from Canadian artists and their neighbours alike. The shows brought together people who are experts in the industry, and those who simply appreciate the art behind it. Shows like this are important for the city of Toronto. Our homebread rising designers need to see Canadian designers be celebrated in this way. TOM* Toronto Men's and Women's Fashion week plants the seed of inspiration and growth year after year, and we are looking forward to hearing stories in the future of that one designer whose inner Karl Lagerfeld was liberated due to a TOM* FW.

As for some advise  for Toronto’s rising fashion designers, “Keep to your vision and go with your gut.” says David Dixon. “There is a lot of visual distractions in the industry and I have seen designers hop from one trend to another. It doesn’t allow for you to build that base, and makes it difficult for you to reach the marketplace. So be true to yourself.”

For more information on TOM* FW, visit: https://www.tomfw.com

Del Mahabadi