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Kathleen Elie, Mo Handahu, Assa Cisse and Marcia Reid in a group photograph at Toronto Fashion Week last year. (Stephanie Florentina)
Kathleen Elie, Mo Handahu, Assa Cisse and Marcia Reid in a group photograph at Toronto Fashion Week last year. (Stephanie Florentina)

Toronto Fashion Week cheat sheet: Five things you should know Add to ...

Carley Fortune and Andrew Sardone offer up a primer on what’s hot, who’s cool and what not to miss.

World MasterCard Fashion Week runs from March 17 to 21. Visit worldmastercardfashionweek.com for tickets and more information. For up-to-the minute fashion-week updates, follow @GlobeStyle on Twitter.

Designer to watch: Brit Wacher

This Montrealer arrives on the Toronto fashion scene with a longer resumé than most: styling experience in Thailand, design work in Holland and kudos in the pages of Vogue Italia. Judging by Wacher’s spring collection, a sharp mix of structured separates and printed pieces (including a chic update of the classic tuxedo), her 2 p.m. show on March 21 is a definite must-see.

It accessory: Running shoes

If Vogue’s Anna Wintour embodies a posh approach to the editor’s wardrobe (oversized sunglasses, fur everything), the closet of her protégé, Lucky magazine boss Eva Chen, holds a new, sportier take. Armed with an arsenal of statement sneakers, the favourite of street-style photographers has inspired a battalion of stylists and fashion journalists to give up their stilettos for fabulous flats this spring. It’s a trend that will undoubtedly lower the average height of Fashion Week’s attendees by a good four inches.

Top buzzword: Normcore

“Ardently ordinary clothes. Mall clothes. Blank clothes. The kind of dad-brand non-style you might have once associated with Jerry Seinfeld.” That’s how Fiona Duncan defined normcore, the so-ugly-it’s-hot way of dressing she wrote about in a viral article on The Cut. Within a week, Chanel imagined its fall runway show as a grocery store full of models in sweats and sneakers, while GQ and Refinery29 posted normcore how-to guides. The lesson: Looking like a Midwestern couch potato without being mistaken for a Midwestern couch potato requires being young, attractive and thin. That’s why the ultimate compliment this Fashion Week will be, “I love your running shoes. You’re so normcore.”
Stephanie Florentina

The cool kid: Mo Handahu

In Fashion Week’s sea of all-black ensembles, East Coast blogger Mo Handahu and her posse can be counted on for an injection of personality and pattern. This coming week, the creator of the Lion Hunter site will arrive from Halifax with a new buzzed haircut and a suitcase full of vibrantly coloured frocks, unconventional prints and high-waisted midi skirts. “I’m very much into the feminine aesthetic right now,” she says.

The Insta star: Grace Lee

Sometimes, the best place to watch a fashion show isn’t from the front row but on your smartphone – especially if you follow an insider like Grace Lee on Instagram (@graceleebeauty). The Toronto beauty expert, who is also Fashion Week’s runway-makeup director, posts behind-the-scenes shots such as “selfie sandwiches” with top models like Grace Mahary and Alana Zimmer as well as sneak peeks at backstage beautification in progress. It's the ultimate insider snapshot.
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