London calling: Canuck designers take centre stage during London fashion week
Canadians are getting a lot of attention from Londoners during the city’s fall-winter 2010 fashion week. The designers have politicians’ wives in a tizzy, American pop stars are paying personal visits, and the shows are the setting for controversy and catfights. Here, an introduction to three must-know Canucks—all with Toronto connections—who are dazzling Britain.
Shtick: Feminine, frilly, graphic prints (more sophisticated than cutesy) perfect for tea parties and après five.
Toronto connection: Known in the industry by his first name only, the half-Turkish, half-English designer grew up in Montreal but spent time at Ryerson for fashion design. Months later, he dropped out and skipped town to study in London, where he won the Chevening Scholarship from the British Fashion Council and was later nominated for the BFC’s 2009 Collection of the Year award.
Path to success: Erdem stocks the shelves of luxe global retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Browns and The Room (at The Bay). He recently received a nod from the wife of Britain’s prime minister, Sarah Brown, when she wore an Erdem dress to give the opening speech for London fashion week.
Celebrity fans: Sarah Brown, Michelle Obama, Thandie Newton, Chloë Sevigny and Toronto-born model Tara Gill.
Web site: erdem.co.uk
Shtick: Androgyny, armour-like shoulders, rock and roll, and superior leather and fur construction.
Toronto connection: Lynn graduated from the fashion program at Ryerson University in 1991 and worked out of his grandmother’s home in Toronto before heading to London.
Path to success: He is rock and roll’s best-kept secret: Lynn began designing onstage apparel for such rock impresarios as U2, the Rolling Stones and Marilyn Manson. He recently released Phoenix, an autobiographical documentary about his design work, and has collaborated with shoe god Christian Louboutin.
Celebrity fans: Janet Jackson, U2, Marilyn Manson, Courtney Love and the Rolling Stones.
Web site: toddlynn.com
Shtick: Intricately knitted body-conscious ensembles.
Toronto connection: Fast grew up just outside Winnipeg but spent several years in Toronto, studying patterns and garment making at Seneca before heading to London’s famed Central Saint Martins school.
Path to success: At his debut show at London fashion week this past September, Fast cast three plus-sized models in his runway lineup. The impromptu change caused a stylist to walk out on the show minutes before it began and stirred up the now-raging debate over extremely thin models. He’s been getting buzz steadily since, and even refused to loan clothes to Lady Gaga. For spring 2010, Fast collaborated with Topshop for a capsule collection and recently launched a cheaper “luxury basics” line, Faster by Mark Fast: a cache of knitted tights, ballet-style bodysuits and form-fitting dresses. At his most recent show, Sarah Brown had to literally barter for a seat (a blogger reluctantly gave up her front-row position).
Celebrity fans: Sarah Brown, Emily Blunt and Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, daughter of French Vogue editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld, Telegraph writer Hilary Alexander.
Web site: markfast.net
• Fashion fit for a first lady [Daily Mail]
• Erdem autumn/winter 2010/11 collection [Telegraph]
• Todd Lynn and Louise Goldin get tough [Marie Claire]
• Todd Lynn RTW fall 2010 [WWD.com]
• Canadian designer Mark Fast declines to give clothes to Lady Gaga, gives them to Topshop instead [Toronto Life]
• Mark Fast’s fall show features plus-sized models, gets thumbs-up from British PM’s wife [Toronto Life]
• Who Did the Seating at Mark Fast? Sarah Brown Squeezed Out [New York Magazine]