There is a quote from Fashion Design Council of Canada President Robin Kay in the new issue of Toronto Life that reads, “Fashion is 10 per cent fabric, 10 percent talent and 80 percent drama.” It’s highlighted on the magazine’s contents page under a photo of Kay and Project Runway Canada host Iman. The line could easily be the catch phrase for a second season of the reality TV show.
Kay knows how to give a good quote so I won’t assume that this one’s math is how she really views the industry. The truth is though, it pretty much adds up to what Toronto’s fashion week has become.
The next season of shows is four days away but, as usual, the general buzz is about Kay’s Toronto Life profile (another example of how media and fashion gossips find her more interesting than the event), how the heck we’re going to survive four days of winter weather in a tent at Nathan Phillips Square and whether freelance bloggers have earned their access to up front seating and the food stuffed media lounge (they have in New York so why not T.O.?)
And our designers? They’re cutting, sewing, fitting, casting and stressing over deadlines and long ago exceeded budgets.
Many of those designers say there’s been a big improvement in the FDCC’s organization of the event this season. An international press list is circulating announcing that media and buyers from France, Italy and Japan are on their way into town for the shows. If Kay and company have got their act together, is it possible the new weak link in fashion week is us attendees?
I remember my first fashion week in 2003. I skipped a week of journalism school and installed myself in the last row of the balcony at the Carlu to watch the shows. I remember then-Flare editor Suzanne Boyd front row centre in a pair of Chanel ski goggle sunglasses. I remember Arthur Mendonça parading his spring collection past the Lalique crystal fountain in the Round Room. I remember the ruby red media lounge being opened up during the closing night party and finally being allowed a peak into the private speakeasy of stylists, editors and Jeanne Beker.
It’s hard to maintain such an inflated sense of romance about anything including fashion. The cynical newbies in the back rows will argue that it’s hard to maintain such an inflated sense of romance about anything you see at Toronto’s fashion week. I would argue that we owe our designers not only empathy but high expectations. I’m ready to be impressed.