DARK DAY – Day 4

These are copies of my blogs for Lush Magazine from LG Fashion Week Beauty by L’Oreal Paris March and April 2011.

They can also be viewed on the Lush website under ‘blogs’ at www.Lushmag.com

Photo by Joanna Wnukowska

It was all dark daydreams at LG Fashion Week in Toronto yesterday as black collections dominated the studio runways at Sid Neigum, Heather Lawton and Cydelic by Choryin.

Sid Neigum started the day off with a nearly all-black collection presented in an intimate studio with long black benches, floors, and velvet curtained walls. To the sounds of heavy bass, the black-lipped models emerged one after another, clad in tailored wool coats, distressed leather jackets with what looked like shark fins protruding down the back, or draped in layers of thick knits – all with subtle details that created Neigum’s “diamond silhouette.” One leather dress, which would have been fairly classic on its own, was paired with a thick leather doughnut neck-piece which, from far away, looked like an Elizabethan collar. Even Neigum himself emerged at end of the show in an all-black outfit and easily blended in with his models.

Photo by Joanna Wnukowska

The whole image had a very industrial and gothic kind of feel, which was quite similar to Heather Lawton’s collection, also presented on the dark studio setting later in the afternoon. Lawton has long black hair and was also dressed in black, wearing black lipstick. Her models, on the other hand, all wore long blond wigs with thick demonic eye makeup. As they emerged through an archway constructed of black branches (which looked kind of like a hollow birds nest standing on its side), while television screens around the room played a video of delicate white snow falling against a – what else – black background, they looked like some sort of zombie forest nymphs hungrily strutting through the dark woodland. 

And as I watched this collection come out I was reminded of James O’Barr’s comic book character The Crow (also a movie and TV series from the 1990s) – a vengeful, pale-faced, masochistic, leather clad, resurrected rock star who wore far too much eyeliner. The clothes themselves – all black, of course – consisted mostly of leather leggings paired with shirt-dresses, heavy knit sweaters or cloaks (and sometimes just an oversized frayed scarf) in silk, cashmere, leather and mongolian lamb, with occasional rope or goat hair detailing.

Photo by Joanna Wnukowska

I am not, however, a big fan of the goat hair, as it looked a little like Lawton lopped off sections of her own hair and stitched them into a skirt hem or on to the shoulders as epaulettes of an oddly proportioned maxi dress.

This dark gothic studio theme continued with the enigmatic and fantastical Cydelic by Choryin collection – my personal favourite of the day.

Choryin took us on a tour of his psyche, and it was a strange dark world that felt a little like Pan’s Labyrinth. Choryin Choi is a Toronto-based designer from Hong Kong, and the influence of Japanese art and anime is quite prominent in his work.

Choi’s colour pallet was mostly black or a lovely cream colour, with some greys and the occasional appearances of a vibrant shade of purple used mostly on oversized coat buttons, or peaking out from under a blazer, or offering a small burst of colour to a gigantic tulle skirt. The collection mainly consisted of coats, sweaters and dresses in heavy cottons which were worked into incredible shapes. The cotton was crumpled, gathered, draped and worked into ruffles, voluminous bubbled hems and balloon pants. There were even a number of garments with cut-outs that looked like Rorschach, or ink-blot tests – I think Sigmund Freud would have definitely been a fan of Choi’s.

Photo by Joanna Wnukowska

All the pieces were incredibly well tailored and textured, but it wasn’t the cut or the finishes or even the Rorschach-like cut-outs that made this collection stand out in my mind. It was the three-dimensional felt masks Choi incorporated into the garments. I admit it’s hard to describe exactly. In one look, a number of the masks were sewn together to make a large scarf made of blank, expressionless faces. In another, the masks were used as a skirt and paired with a tailored black blouse with a huge standing Dracula collar and long straight-jacket sleeves which dragged along the floor.All of these looks were paired with a Bride of Frankenstein-like coif and more black eyeliner that reminded me of The Crow, although the models in Choi’s show looked more like sad, broken dolls that have gotten lost in this mad world of his. And that was, in fact, exactly what he was trying to do with this collection.

“My approach is to try and bring people into my own world,” he told me after the show. “I want people to actually look through my mind, to see what I see. This collection is based on a monster world that I see, a world where monsters and people live together.”

It was certainly the most creative collection I’ve seen this week. It was incredibly surreal and avant garde, and completely different from anything else on the schedule. As for its wearability, while I do think there are many women who would wear some of these pieces (I would definitely rock one of the Rorschach dresses), they are an acquired taste.

“My designs are for artistic women,” Choi says, “for women who see things like me.”

I could see these pieces being sold at select Canadian boutiques, as well as almost anywhere in Japan. I also think that Choi might find a movie contract in his future if he can get these designs to Tim Burton, as it seems like they might be living in a similar world – a twisted wonder world of magic and mystery that I’m glad Choi gave me a glimpse of today.

But I think I’d prefer to stay here.

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