This October 2005 marked a special occassion for the Canadian fashion industry — The 10th anniversary of L’Oréal Fashion Week. Held at the newly rennovated Muzik building at the Exhibition Place in Toronto, some of the country’s finest homegrown talent showcased their collections for spring/summer 2006.

While Arthur Mendonça traipsed through exotic Marrakech, Paul Hardy took his collection through the icy fields of Iceland. Denis Gagnon, in typical fashion, oozed sex with a liberal dose of rock ‘n roll while fellow Montrealer, Renata Morales drew heavily on the romantic period of the late 18th century.

Current trends like Victoriana, military and volume spilled over to spring/summer 2006, however, this time around those moody blues were uplifted to reveal a much more airy and pleasant sentiment.

Here ELLECANADA.COM previews some of the week’s best contributions.

Paul Hardy

The collection: The Emancipation of the Icelandic Ghost Pirates

The vibe: Natural fabrics such as linens and gauzy silk chiffons with crystal accents.

Muted palette of greys and silvers with a very raw, organic feel.

Earthly jersey dresses with ribbons of hanging fabric, Swarovski crystal skull and bones t-shirt embellishments paired with mint green long johns and cropped brocade jackets.

The inspiration: “I was hoping to represent the visual depth of layering,” says Hardy. “I wanted to show strong femininity in its purest form. By mixing hard and soft silhouettes together I broadened the use of certain fabrics: suckered cotton/silk voile, coated linens, nylon and metail suiting.

Favourite look? “My favourite look of the entire collection has to be the shredded graffiti print jacket, skull logo tank and the green linen jeans.”

Best runway(s) of the week? “I really like the pants that Arthur Mendonça showed and the leathers from Denis Gagnon were beautiful.”

View runway images.


The collection: Diary of a Dali Girl

The vibe: Trademark knits such as cropped sweaters with python snake detail wrapped around the neck, black and white crochet sleeveless dress with cutsie bow, multi-coloured popcorn-like leggings paired with corset tops and baggy cargo shorts.

The inspiration: “It is all about fantasy and travel,” says one of the three sisters, Samantha. “We were inspired by the surrealist vision of Salvador Dali. We juxtaposed unexpected elements like our petal pink organzas and silk ribboned tops to create a colourful and playful collection. The women that wear our clothes represent love and confidence!”

Favourite look?

Cailliane: “The pink Princess dress with striped organza.”

Samantha: “The Airport dress with seams and layered collars.”

Chloe: “The Madrid black cocktail dress with velvet trim.”

View runway images.

Arthur Mendonça

The collection: Spring/Summer 2006

The vibe: A Moroccan-inspired collection filled with warm sunset orange and sea blue shades as seen in his frilly smocks and skirts.

Gold brocade bow-front dresses, sexy animal prints and safari suits in all of their rose-red splendour.

The inspiration: “An urban woman traveling to Marrakech and assimilating pieces and influence from the local culture and aesthetic into her own wardrobe,” says Mendonca. “Some of the central fabrics I used were cotton linens, silk chiffons and prints from leopard and python to paisley and stripes. This woman is on an enchanting journey from a captivated visitor of the city to a vibrant resident.”

Favourite look? “The red safari suit.”

Best runway(s) of the week? “I enjoyed Paul Hardy and Denis Gagnon.”

View runway images.

Photography by Elayne Laken; top model, Yasmine Warsame, at Pink TartanDavid Dixon

The collection: Spring/Summer 2006

The vibe: All-natural fabrics like linens, silks and feather-light cottons in jet black, bronze and cream. 50s influenced halter dresses with crisp, form-fitting silhouettes.

The inspiration: “I was inspired by memories of a young woman in Florence when I was backpacking as a student,” says Dixon. “I was people-watching at a café and was enamored by this woman who was with friends beside me. She was so carefree and effervescent, so much so that it stuck with me like a photograph. I wanted to capture a certain ease to the collection — Luxury without trying too hard.”

Favourite look? “A simple brown silk dress with an ivory border at the hem.”

Best runway(s) of the week? “Unfortunately I missed all of the shows before mine, but they tend to freak me out a bit anyway!”

Pink Tartan

The collection: Spring/Summer 2006

The vibe: A light and creamy colour palette of whites, golds and chocolate browns. Wrap dresses á la Diane Von Furstenberg, voluminous skirts with bow ties, softly feminine tailored suit jackets in minty greens and navy blues paired with roomy culottes and bermuda shorts (as seen on top Canadian model, Yasmine Warsame).

’70s retro prints and an ode to nautical wear with blue and white striped pullovers and chains.

The inspiration “I wanted to represent a very feminine woman,” says designer Kim Newport-Mimran. “So I used silks in different qualities like jersey, charmeuse, dupioni and silk jacquards. I love the way it moves and how it feels against your skin. I design clothes that flatter a woman’s figure and makes it easy for her to get dressed and look good.”

Favourite look? “I loved the closing looks with the long skirts paired with easy, no-fuss tanks. I also really like the blouson trench as it is a feminine version of one of my favourite classics.”

Best runway(s) of the week? “I was able to attend the opening night with Paul Hardy showing and had a great time!”

View runway images.

Denis Gagnon

The collection: Spring/Summer 2006

The vibe: Quintessential Gagnon — Supple, wrinkled leathers in liquid black and bright green, trademark puffy sleeves and plenty of ruching.

Ruffled silks and intricate lace details, pleated paper-thin leather short-shorts, ’60s inspired white stretch cotton mod dresses. Very sexy, urban chic.

The inspiration: “I wanted to create a look that was sweet and romantic, yet still very rocker at its core. This collection has a lot of character, a lot of attitude,” says Gagnon. “I love to play it rough and mix opposing fabrics like leather and cotton. The Denis Gagnon signature has always been in the details: I created ruffled tops that were wrinkled for added volume, pleats on the skirts for movement and shirts that had rounded construction. All classy looks with a bit of an edge.”

Favourite look? “I love them all,” enthuses Gagnon. “It may sound cheesy, but I really do. I do have a soft spot for the leather shorts and silk blouse.”

Best runway(s) of the week? “I liked Parasuco, I thought the styling was excellent. It was a great example of how to give a commercial line a “designer” edge while still respecting the brand’s core I.D.”

View runway images.

Renata Morales

The collection: Craftsy

The vibe: On trend with Victorian-inspired halter mini-dresses, delicate vintage white lace was seen on everything from bermuda-style shorts to prim and proper pleated skirts.

Buttery yellow pants paired with long-sleeved high-collared blouses, white communion-style dresses that played up the modesty factor with a very romantic feel.

The inspiration: “It’s hard to say where my inspiration starts and when it stops. I love christening dresses and fabrics used for table clothes, hence the title of the collection,” says Morales. “I am very attached to different forms of romanticism. But, in saying that, I want there to be a reality associated to my designs, I want them to be wearable and transformable, depending on the woman who wears them.”

Favourite look? “The long-sleeves lace button-down tops and lace skirts.”

Best runway(s) of the week? “My beloved, Denis Gagnon!”

View runway images.

Photography by Elayne Laken; a look from Arthur Mendonca’s spring/summer 2006 collection