Monday, March 22, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Sometimes the most thoughtful fashion shows I’ve attended are those with a simple presentation which let the clothes - not flashy catwalk spectacles - speak for themselves. Those that stand out in my mind are Jessica Jensen’s spring/summer 2010 collection and now Philip Sparks’ fall/winter 2010 show.
Sparks posted several preview videos on his blog in the lead up to showing his latest menswear collection, giving a behind-the-scenes look into his design process. For fall/winter 2010, he used Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick as the source for his inspiration.
Keeping in line with the sea-faring theme of Moby-Dick, Sparks presented his collection to a packed Toronto audience on Thursday using industrial fixtures, wooden crates and heavy ropes as props to set the stage for the show. Models were outfitted in double breasted jackets, suits and vests in black, navy blue and grey. All the pieces are very well made, superbly cut and looked like it could stand up to the North Atlantic’s sea salt air and its fierce cold winds.
One piece in particular that caught my immediate attention was a grey two-piece suit made out of wool with black piping on its lapels and pockets, accessorized with a Hamilton Watch and a pair of goggle style glasses.
This collection shows Sparks’ continual ability to develop, rework and refine concepts into clothing that is timeless and can be worn by the everyday man. His eye for detail and commitment to telling a story through his craft is outstanding and continues to impress the media, buyers and his admirers season after season.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
“When will the show start?”
“You said it was 10 after, right? And it was supposed to start at six.”
I experienced a rare, disturbing moment of total incomprehension. Then, somehow, words came out: “Oh, honey,” I think I said. “Is this your first time?”
And in the next moment, the show began, early by my time. No fanfare, just seafaring, as ship-shape models shambled about the rigging. Sparks, apparently the only man alive to have actually read Moby Dick all the way through, spun Melvillian inspiration into his halest outerwear and sharpest suiting yet, all in a navy and oil-slick palette.
First time or fifth, there’s an ancestral familiarity in the Philip Sparks aesthetic — didn’t your grandfather have trousers just like that? And wouldn’t they look good on your indie-kid brother? Nautical themes are tired, but his feels true. And even when he conjures up salty old men, the cut of his jib — as evidenced in the shawl-like collar on one peacoat, or the envelope pocket on another — is thoroughly modern. A high-minded utilitarianism has won out over dandyness; though waistcoats and lean trousers remain, cleverly placed cargo pockets and long johns look cooler. Sparks makes cashmere look rugged and canvas look rich.
After the show, I delivered congrats to the designer’s first mate, NOW fashion writer Andrew Sardone. Great show. And so nearly on time! And this time, I mean real fashion time: Mode a Paris just ended, and trade shows continue. (Sparks has already showed his stuff at Rendezvous in New York.) Just too bad our official, LG-sponsored fashion week is later than ever this season; it won’t start till March 28th (and, yes, that’s a Sabbath).
It’ll be a long two weeks of this stuff, Sardone. But then he shrugged, “I’m just glad we’re first.”
Aha. Perhaps Mr. Sparks wanted to send out a genteel reminder that he is still — despite the new proliferation of designers-for-dudes in these waters — the first captain of Canadian menswear. What can I say but aye, aye?
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Wallace Media’s Doug Wallace.
Marlene Shiff with Plaid Magazine’s Odessa Paloma Parker and Rebecca Spiece.
The Globe and Mail’s Laura Serra, Holt Renfrew’s Paul Smith and Dimitri Kovachis.
Designer Evan Biddell.
The Fashion Design Council of Canada’s Robin Kay and Carolyn Quinn.