By Jacqueline Parrish
Known for exquisite tailoring and minute-attention to detail, the quirky designer of the Montreal-based, self-titled label Dimitri Chris delivered an impeccable F/W ’10 runway show. A collection brimming with tailored tweeds, suits and vests, knee high equestrian boots, page boy hats and a smattering of houndstooth and plaid, the smartly attired models could have –in all reality- walked right off of the catwalk and climbed onto a horse, forest bound. British to the core, Chris succeeded in marrying together the essence of the English hunting culture with modern, wearable clothes. I was fortunate enough to make it backstage to interview Chris about his latest collection; bearded with dark, fly-away hair, I towered over the designer. Smartly attired in a grey vest, grey pants, and a red and white checkered bowtie, the short-in-stature designer reminded me of a mad scientist; an Albert Einstein of fashion, if you will: What sets you apart from other menswear designers? Are there a lot of menswear designers? We have Bustle and Dubuc and Philip Sparks. We all have a different aesthetic. Bustle has their own distinct quirky look and Philip Sparks, while still into the tailoring, has a more laid-back and relaxed look. My background is in tailoring and that plays into the collection. I want to push the envelope There’s room for everyone. I loved the coats with the built in scarves; I thought it was a brilliant concept! Thank you! You see, a lot of my friends were bitching and complaining that they are always losing their scarves, having to tuck them into their sleeves. So I said “There you go. You don’t need to worry about it”. Who is the Dimitri Chris Man? I’d like to say it’s a young professional. Somebody starting out in his life, in general being social and business and cultural, but obviously it’s hard to want to cater to just a select clientele. That being said, it’s very wearable. The garments are very wearable. The idea behind ‘Master of the Foxhounds’ was derived from English hunting culture; where did you come up with the concept? I was inspired by British culture, royalty and their traditions and lifestyle and hunting, which is their leisure sport. The collection is very British. What do you hope to bring to the table in terms of men’s fashion? Wearable garments with an emphasis on tailoring. And what can we expect from you in the future? To be there. You can expect me to be there.
BY JOÃO PAULO NUNES
In stark contrast to the tight-fitting, tailored suits and jackets inspired by menswear of the 1970s many designers at the recent fashion shows in Milan and Paris opted for a completely contrasting approach to designing overcoats for Autumn/Winter 2011/12. For the cool months of next year, the designers’ collective decision to choose oversized coats indicates the adoption of a trend that favours deconstructed, boxy shapes. In most designer collections shown, these shapes eliminate the contours and overall physicality of the male body by omitting the waist line and allowing the fabric to drape freely from the shoulders. In addition, a recurrent option has been to adopt narrow and sloping shoulders with little or no padding thus only relying on the pulling of fabric at the sleeves to give shape to the garment while its length often goes below the knees. After the return of a moderate version of the 1980s shoulder pads in the first decade of the 21st century, this trend seems to be a resurgence of the anti-power shoulder that many Japanese designers adopted in the 1990s, and that subsequently permeated the designs of Western designers, too. More interestingly, if one bears in mind that the 1990s rejection of large shoulders and sharp silhouettes was a subtle way to voice social concerns by designers, and consumers that rejected a fashion of excess and capitalistic overindulgence, at a time when movements of social unrest seem to be taking place all over the world. This trend can be interpreted as an interesting coincidence or an apt metaphorical comment on the state of world. Coincidence or not, fashion plays an important role in all that we do, and a new style can bring a fresh perspective and reflection of changing times.
Western Canadian Designers Making a Mark in New York Michael Kaye Michael Kaye, an Edmonton native, and a regular contributer to Western Canada Fashion Week,has turned his fashion flair into an extraordinary career. A significant player in the New York fashion scene, Kaye was back in Edmonton in 2010 to receive the Alumni Centenary Award for Volunteer Service from the University of Alberta, his alma mater. In turn to show his support to the university and students, he donated a one-of-a-kind tartan gown to the Department of Human Ecology. A graduate, cum laude, of the Fashion Institute in New York, Kaye has a list of awards and recognition that include The Fashion Group International’s “Rising Star Award” and the “Women’s Apparel Award” present in 2004 by hit series television show, Sex and the City Costumer, Patricia Field. “It is through my passion of cut and fabric that I am able to evolve the concept of the modern couture philosophy,” says Kaye. His creativity ranges from lace, beading, ruffles and bias tartans to sleek modern double-faced crepe dress and coat styles. Crowned the “Bonnie Prince of Tartan” by press and peers, for his love and creations with that marvellous material, Kaye’s creations have been showcased Sir Sean Connery’s “Dressed to Kilt” event since 2003. Kaye plans on creating 15 tartan gowns, one for each of the 10 Canadian provinces and three territories, and tour them across Canada. It was through Michael’s insistence that an official tartan was created for Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut. A Canadian who has certainly made his niche in the fashion industry for 21 years, Kaye’s view of couture is “an easy, modern, elegant lifestyle” that has been embraced by distinguished women across the globe. Sid Neigum Sid Neigum hails from Drayton Valley, Alberta. He studied fashion design at Marvel College, taking his first step into notoriety was in 2009 where he won the “Emerging Designer Award” at the inaugural edition of Western Canada Fashion Week. Neigum created a dress entirely out of recycled tires for WCFW’s Phabrikated for the Arts competition. He gained notoriety and press coverage for his unique designs that eventually led to an internship with renowned designer Yigal Azrouel in New York City. Currently making his home in New York, Neigum was recently accepted at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology. His self-described design philosophy is “masculine, modern and unconventional.” The spirit of Neigum’s designs is bold, dark and innovative. Neigum, launched at Western Canada Fashion Week continues to be supported by the Canadian fashion industry, his participation at Vancouver Fashion Week and LG Fashion Week keeps him at the forfront of emerging design talent. Neigum
BY JOÃO PAULO NUNES
On most occasions, the first music notes of a fashion runway show set the tone for the collection that ensues. In Todd Lynn’s display for his Autumn/Winter 2011/12 collection at London Fashion Week, one had to wait until the final parade of models to the sound of T. Rex’s song “The Children of the Revolution” to understand how the designer intended his message to be summed up by the audience. After all, this was a song that, when it was released 40 years ago, was popular with teenagers while some elements of society regarded it as essentially pro-communist propaganda. In the expanding luxury market propelled by affluent consumers in emerging post-communist economies, Lynn’s established reputation for designing leather and fur garments rides the zeitgeist wave of the successful process of merging creativity and profit. Lynn has had a penchant for leather and fur for quite a while, and his latest designs using these materials in shades of beige, black, grey and maroon are no exception. The collection’s repetitive examples of footwear and tailoring (as evidenced in the numerous trousers with draped fabric over pockets, dresses with asymmetric sleeves, and several high-necked, zipped up jackets) contrasted with some original designs that are worth noting. In fact, despite relying on the reiteration of commercially safe designs, Lynn’s talent was at its strongest in the elegant high-top trainers for men, deconstructed garments with pleated fabrics, overcoats fastened diagonally, and stylish zipped high gloves. Having developed an image as a designer of rock and roll cool garnered over years of making clothes for artists in the music industry, Lynn may see 2011 as the year that marks a turning point in his career. In truth, this is not a collection for the children of the revolution. These are garments for the former rebellious children who have grown and now turn to designers like Lynn for items of clothing that exude luxury and creativity.