My decision to share my reasoning behind not showing at Toronto Fashion Week this season was not intended to act as a critique of the event itself. On the contrary, my goal was to peel back the curtain and provide the public a look at what it means to be a fashion designer in Canada, and to hopefully bring attention to the fact that fashion-related events like TFW are under-supported. I am faced with the economic and physical realities of having a limited amount of time and money to put into my business, and so is every other designer trying to make a name for themselves. The fact that my open letter received more attention from the media and public alike than my past couple runway shows is very telling. Every designer showing is an artist, and a business person simultaneously, and is trying their hardest to make headway in a very competitive and fast-moving environment. When I was a kid, I used to think that if a musician had a music video on Much Music or MTV it automatically meant that they were rich and famous and living the high life. Of course, this was not the reality, and it has become increasingly more difficult to be successful in the music industry, but we tend to forget this and to equate notoriety with inherent financial success. The point I’m trying to make, is that I think sometimes we see people on a big stage and assume that they’ve made it, and that they don’t need our support. We criticize and troll online as if brands are faceless corporate entities without people behind the scenes doing the work, and we aren’t as conscientious of our purchasing power as we could be. In light of this, I wanted to highlight a few of the designers who showed at Toronto Fashion Week and made an impact on me personally.


Photos courtesy George Pimentel

Hilary MacMillan is a contemporary, cruelty-conscious womenswear brand that was founded in 2013. Hilary’s show at The Rom was awash with amazing textural components and accents such as lacing, ruching and exaggerated menswear finishes that juxtaposed the clean and classic femininity of her pieces. She was inspired by 90s silhouettes, and I loved her generous use of plaid, which also acted as a homage to the flannel soaked fashion of 90s grunge. Plaid is a Canadian staple, and her elegant and elevated approach to the print is something I found particularly interesting, especially considering the HE plaid I designed for our FW18 collection. Her designs are extremely wearable, and carry an air of effortless sophistication that is very commercial. I also love that she has “made a commitment to focus on being a cruelty-conscious brand, no longer using leather, fur, exotic skins, or feathers in any of her garments.” It is no surprise to me that elegant ladies like Kim Cattrall and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau are fans.


Photos courtesy George Pimentel

Michael Zoffranieri is one of the nicest and most down to earth people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. His passion and commitment to artistry is immediately apparent when you speak to him. This season’s collection, ‘Divine Deviance’ was created in tandem with Alan Anderson and harkens back to classic Hollywood glamour. It was inspired by movies, ‘The Women (1939)’ and ‘Dishonoured Lady (1947)’ and is intended to comment on the concept of being both divine and deviant. For ZOFF storytelling is a central component of his design process, and presenting his collection in an intimate and detail-oriented space was important to him for this collection. Both the films, and ZOFF’s collection intend to comment on the fact that women are expected to be both divine and deviant and women in positions of power are not afforded a personal life, or a vulnerable side. The idea is that if a woman wants to be desirable she must be demure and submissive, but also free from sexual inhibition. She must be angelic in public and devilish in private. This type of duality speaks to the unrealistic expectations placed on women in society. Says Zoffranieri, “I know it is not my place to lead movements that don’t entirely include my likeness, but this concept is so relevant in today’s socio-economic political economy”. Showcasing the glamour of his models in an intimate setting without a formal runway was a very clear removal of the pedestal of expectation we often place women on in our society. Despite this, the beauty and fine detailing of ZOFF and Alan Anderson’s pieces is immediately apparent. The collection is gala ready and classic without being derivative. Modern touches like see-through fabrics and glittery synthetics are paired with classic cues and overly-elegant styling. Our girl Rachel Romu, who uses a mobility aid walked for ZOFF again, and women of all ages and ethnicities were represented, which is great. The take-away is that you can glamourize women without idealizing them, or reducing them to sexual objects. Imagine that.

Photo courtesy George Pimentel

Zoff himself (wearing our coat from Fall 2016!) with collaborator Allan Anderson and models in tow.



Photos courtesy George Pimentel

Lesley is an amazingly talented, young First Nations designer, who made her debut at Toronto Fashion Week this season. Her collection, ‘Eighteen Seventy Six’, refers to the date that the ‘Indian Act’ was first enacted by the Canadian government. This is the date that Canada first gave legal recognition to Indigenous persons. As an Indigenous Canadian herself, Lesley’s collection is an exploration of what it means to be considered Indigenous. The show opened with a performance by Juno nominated artist, Iskwe “whose performance introduced the struggles and triumphs of our Canadian Indigenous community” and all of her models were members of the Indigenous community. Every aspect of her designs was carefully thought out and added to the messaging behind the collection. Lesley’s designs provide “visibility and acknowledgement to the traditions and history of Indigenous peoples in Canada.” The colour blue was used to represent the influence of military and residential schools in the Indigenous community, and her use of red detailing was used to represent the many missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada who have been failed by our legal system. Lesley’s brand was founded on “the principles of inclusivity, identity, awareness and heritage” and this is extremely evident in the way she chose to make her debut at Toronto Fashion Week. Her pieces are absolutely gorgeous, the assured simplicity and timeless beauty she distills into her garments is amazing for such a young designer. Having a message and a voice as a young woman in what is often viewed as an exclusionary or at the very least frivolous industry is not easy, and adding the weight of sharing her Indigenous experience is remarkable. Lesley’s ability to construct in such a varied yet cohesive way, is very telling of her skillset. I see big things for Lesley in the future.

Post-Lesley Hampton runway with Cindy (my plus one) and Refinery 29 babes Carley and Kathleen. I was on the phone with Kathleen earlier that day being interviewed for this article!

I'm wearing our Eyegina Overalls (almost sold out!) and Cindy is wearing a sample for Spring 2019!

Also ran into Zoff!

With Matty from Matty's Fab Avenue!