Hot in winter? Get ready for a new sexed-up Canadian fashion reality.
A black cable-knit strapless dress, a burgundy virgin-wool cape trimmed with chevron-cut coyote, a black shearling trench with leather belt - these were just some of the cold-busting looks Toronto designer Sunny Fong paraded down the runway at LG fashion Week Thursday night as part of his 2011 fall/winter women's wear collection for his VAWK label.
Presented on the main runway inside Heritage Court at Exhibition Place before a capacity (and enthusiastic) audience, the show featuring 24 looks marked VAWK's first appearance on-site at Fashion Week.
In past seasons, Fong, a Project Runway winner, has shown inside the Walker Court at the Art Gallery of Ontario before a more select (read, smaller) audience of 200. The main runway at Fashion Week, by contrast, has a capacity of 1,000 people.
"I wanted to try something different this season," the diminutive designer said backstage. "In the past, we've been very industry focused, just inviting press and buyers in to see the collection. But now that I've established the brand I feel I'm ready to go bigger. I want now to appeal to the masses."
And how. Even before the show was finished, women in the audience were praising the collection as "wearable."
Fong has embraced a new relaxed style while experimenting with such winter fabrics as knits, wool and fur.
All of the knits were handmade, with cable-stitching used as a dramatic accent on pencil-tight camel woollen skirts and cold-weather woollen dresses cut sleek to the body.
In addition to his signature cream-and-black palette, Fong interjected a jolt of colour into the collection by way of burgundy and - more dramatically - turquoise, as seen on a teal wool with felted-knit collar and flare pants worn with a transparent black tuxedo shirt and men's tie.
Men's wear, he said, was an inspiration.
Also noteworthy were jackets whose sleeves were cable-stitched at the shoulder and felted below the elbow, a look stemming from Fong's interest in clothing as a handmade artisanal product.
Unsurprisingly (given the show's emphasis on keeping Canadian women warm - and looking hot - come winter), Fong also put an emphasis on outerwear, presenting glamorous looks that will definitely stand out against the snow.
These included a va-va-voom leopard trench paired with cream wide-legged pants, and, la pièce de la résistance, a below-the-knee black Mongolian lambskin coat with leather belt.
The coat got temperatures rising on the basis of looks alone.
"I want women to feel sexy, even in a huge coat." Fong said.
Praise be to that.