The buzz of continuous conversation fills your ears as you wade through a sea of well-dressed people. You are welcomed by a soothing voice heard over the speakers and told to find your seat as the show is about the begin. The people who surround you aren’t just guests or people looking for a way to fill their evening – they are creatives, directors, artists, photographers, designers, students, writers, producers, bloggers, marketers and dreamers. Everyone here is unique and equipped with a sharp mind and keen eye for detail. Their appreciation for art, design, creativity and fashion is pressurizing the atmosphere – the vibe and energy is enough to render even the most exhausted person piqued. Welcome to TOM* – Toronto Men’s Fashion Week.
I had the pleasure of volunteering for Toronto Men’s Fashion Week for the third time this summer and this was by far the best experience yet. The energy of not only the guests, but my fellow volunteers was indescribable. Being able to watch the show unfold into something flawless and inspiring is something I will never forget. The amount of hard work and dedication required to pull something of this magnitude off isn’t easy – but our team leaders made it look as if it was.
As a marketing graduate it was extremely interesting to see how each designer represented themselves in their own unique way. Whether it was through their gifts to the audience members, their musical choices or the visuals that were displayed as their respective collections were introduced – each one was able to make their mark on the runway, filling the venue with their own energy and artistic expression.
Day One started the three day event off strong – opening the show with Diodati by Luca Galardo. His modern and rebellious looks set the tone for the evening – contributing to the main purpose of fashion – self-expression. Later in the evening, Jeff Rustia stepped onto the stage to introduce the MENSFASHION4HOPE show – evoking deep emotion from the crowd with his beautiful speech about his late son, Kol. Born without the ability to walk or talk, Kol has given a voice to countless children with disabilities through the Kol Hope Foundation for Children. A total of $107,500 has been raised to help and support sick kids throughout Canada and the globe. The MENSFASHION4HOPE show was full of enthusiasm as Canadian celebrities such as Colin Mochrie, Director X and Patrick Patterson walked the runway.
The night ended with beautiful, smart, European looks from Finezza as well as pieces inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Marilyn Monroe from the designer Hendrixroe. An extremely well-rounded first night satisfied all tastes as the lights dimmed and the last model walked off of the stage.
Day Two was no less packed with talent – designers ranging from Whitney Linen, Zane Barlas, L’Momo, Joao Paulo Guedes and SWAM. Whitney Linen started the day off with classic cuts and a minimal palette. Sophistication and elegance made it’s way to the stage via the bespoke suits of Zane Barlas. Taking the night in a completely different direction, L’Momo captivated the audience with their futuristic and architectural pieces. Joao Paul Guedes, the first winner of the Toronto Men’s Fashion Week Emerging Menswear Designer Award took the runway with his contemporary and eclectic line – filling the venue with colour through his dope visuals and memorable prints. His garments are basically wearable art through the use of custom textiles and fabrics from all over the world. SWAM capped the night off with their wicked, bright designs strapped onto enthusiastic and shirtless models.
A celebration of The Beatles and John Lennon was scheduled for Day Three along with the Toronto Men’s Fashion Week Emerging Menswear Designer Awards – and it did not disappoint. With the weekend marking the 50th anniversary of The Beatle’s last concert in Toronto, TOM* was part of the program to celebrate with Beatlemania. Bringing Beatles inspired looks onto the runway through twenty-one designers including Rudsak, Christopher Bates, Dalla and Phillipe Dubuc – fifty unique looks walked the stage, proving yet again how iconic The Beatles’ style remains to this day. Continuing the hippie vibe, the John Lennon Signature Collection was presented after a beautiful and haunting instrumental performance of his song “Imagine.”
Up next was my personal favourite designer – Kollar. Capitalizing on the ever-rising minimalistic fashion trends, David Kollar’s collection was made up of neutral garments, carefully structured to achieve a swoon-worthy aesthetic that no one could take their eyes off of.
Closing the event was the Toronto Men’s Fashion Week Emerging Menswear Designer Award – where Curtis Oland rocked the house with his ‘Oyama Lake’ collection – a name reflecting his pride in his multicultural heritage.
Following his win was a closing thank-you from Jeff Rustia. As he walked off stage and the lights dimmed, a simple announcement of Toronto Women’s Fashion Week was displayed on the screen. What a bittersweet ending to an incredible three days.
Until next season, TOM.