Bondage, Silver And Wool

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Photos by George Pimentel
 
 Black mask, grey high-collared vest with military lines.
 
Immediately distinguishing itself from the colourful aesthetics of its peers, the Ezra Constantine collection showcased a dour dystopia. Favouring muted greys, silvers and whites, the models resembled bondage ninjas, walking the runway in Gibson-esque S&M tunics and high shouldered wool sweaters.

“I think they took more risks with this one,” Toronto-based designer Dylan Uscher told us. “I think this was a little bit darker than their past ones. And this was the first Ezra Constantine show that was separate from [Greta Constantine], so I’m really pleased that they took this as an opportunity to really separate the brands for themselves.”

Focusing on black and silver, the tops were wide in the shoulders, and tight in the lower arms. There was a tunic influence on much of the pieces, combining Asian traditional clothing with S&M elements. The lines of the white trousers were clean, the perfect match to the bondage schoolboy look.

Above, a bowtie-as-S&Mwear schoolboy look showcases the chiaroscura that defined the show.

A highlight of the show was Uscher’s knitwear, which Wong and Pickersgill had incorporated as part of the collection. His wool cowls, collars and sweaters updated the traditionally old-world medium of knitwear. His peak-shouldered sweaters and scarves fit like a glove with with the futurism on display. His scarves expanded on the high collar organically and intuitively. “I really liked how they incorporated the pieces that I made for them,” Uscher told us. “I thought that [my pieces] went really smoothly.”

Of the show itself, Dylan Uscher said, “I thought a lot of the pieces were a bit more bold and interesting than some past pieces. I love the S&M future aspect that they had going on… Being a part of Ezra Constantine has been huge for me. The Greta Constantine show was my first major fashion show, and for this to be my second, and my debut at Toronto Fashion Week is huge, you know? I can forever put on my resume, and everyone that I ever talk to, that I worked with Greta Constantine. It’s huge.”

The show was a triumph for the Ezra Constantine label, the brainchild of designers Stephen Wong and Kirk Pickersgill, who were all smiles when they strode out to a standing applause. It was the first Ezra Constantine show at the storied Toronto Fashion Week ever since they vowed that they would not return. But they were back, and with a collection that justified the brand’s acclaim.

But did Toronto Fashion Week rise to meet them? While the futurism on display made the collection feel like it was from a bigger world, the studio at the World Mastercard Fashion Week often seemed, if anything, too small for it. Despite the size of the building sitting in David Pecault Park, Toronto Fashion Week had shrunk compared to previous years.

And while the Constantine show represented the cutting edge of fashion, the interior of the TFW tent often felt like it was moving in a backwards direction, a trade show with an oversized ego. Jarringly, the sponsors had set up bizarre installations inside the tent, such as the Barbie stand, in which a camera would project iconic Barbie clothing onto a image of you. You could take a photo standing next to the new SL. Even some of the designers we spoke with felt a little out of their element.

And adding to the artificiality of the proceedings was the runway itself. Volunteers in white shirts moved like ghosts through a crowd fighting over their seats. The white boards on the ground shook, as everyone moved and talked and walked.

The return of the Ezra Constantine show injected much needed authenticity and off-kiltedness into the show, a splash of originality.

Shows like Ezra Constantine prove that there is still some life left in Toronto Fashion Week, and a brilliant showcase for the potential of young designers.

 
 

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