Quite often, a fashion show is just about the clothes - how they are made, how they move, whether they have a future beyond the runway. Occasionally, a fashion show is about so much more.
Toronto sisters Chloe and Parris Gordon are 22 and 20 years old respectively. They have staged fashion shows before. But for all intents and purposes, Wednesday afternoon was their coming-out moment.
While not flawless, it was an impressive debut effort. Chloe, who designs the clothing (Parris tackles the jewellery), has tapped into a clever and culturally on-point aesthetic: that fashionable grey area between nonchalant tomboy and self-assured woman.
She understands cut and silhouette and achieves a balance of loose and tailored, often in a single garment. In a muted palette of creams, khaki, grey and navy, the collection included novelty details: detachable panels on an anorak-cum-safari jacket, leather trim, baseball stitching and straps made of cord.
Chloe is at her best when she plays with proportions: blouses start out mini, even midriff-bearing, only to billow with diaphanous beauty from behind. One dress that buttoned demurely from hemline to neck in front revealed a massive cutout at back.
Chunky freestanding belt loops, rising from the hemline of shorts or hanging from the base of a life jacket-style vest, were an ongoing theme. If Chloe has anything to learn it's the impact of restraint. Five straps and buckles across the breast of a jacket registered as over-thought. Some designs could have benefited from cleaner lines.
Chloe does all her own printmaking - this season, she scrutinized stones, created pointillism-style dots and columns of crisscrosses. The effect was pared down yet artistic.
Parris turned to various forms of transportation for her jewellery, from sterling silver railroad track cuffs and compass bracelets to tiny tires, which appeared at the base of drop earrings. Unfortunately, the clothes largely overshadowed these details.
The music chosen for the show was particularly fitting: a version of Fever Ray's When I Grow Up: "When I grow up, I want to be a forester; Run through the moss on high heels." Indeed, Chloe, who says explorers from centuries past and a trip to Jamaica inspired the collection, expresses a free spirit in her aesthetic. What grounds the flowy dresses and jersey pants is a respect for unstructured structure that reflects her respect for designers such as Alexander Wang, Jil Sander and Hannah MacGibbon who, coincidentally, designs for French label Chloé.
Chloe's interest in natural materials - linen, organic cotton, bamboo, silk and hemp - suggests that she has a flower child sensibility, minus the twee flowers (her fall collection is currently available at Narwhal and UPC in Toronto). Certainly keep your eyes glued to Chloe Comme Parris over the next few seasons; these sisters show all signs of blossoming before our eyes.