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Greta Constantine fall/winter 2011 collection (Jenna Marie Wakani for The Globe and Mail)
Greta Constantine fall/winter 2011 collection (Jenna Marie Wakani for The Globe and Mail)

Greta and Ezra Constantine shows signal big vision Add to ...

If anyone paused from all the schmoozing before and after the Greta Constantine and Ezra Constantine women's and men's shows on Friday night, they may have noticed the panel of photos showing Stephen Wong and Kirk Pickersgill as amused teenagers sporting Miss Universe-style sashes.

Gotta wonder whether the designers knew twenty years back that they would be among the leaders of Toronto's fashion pack, a design duo that keeps growing and pushing their talent further every season.

After showing in an empty commercial space last October, Wong and Pickersgill returned to the downtown Audi dealership (their preferred venue and a faithful sponsor) to present their fall/winter 2011 collection. From the lower-evel garage space emerged a much more layered, sumptuous, multi-culti bohemian sensibility, initially suggesting a major departure from their signature jersey.

Oversized capes, kimono sleeved coats, paisley patterned boots and thick waist-cinching belts trimmed in upholstery fringe combined to create a folkloric funk mash-up that maintained a sense of sophistication thanks to thick melton and double-nit fabrics.

For even more volume, the designers used a mushroom-hued padded cotton as a peplum belt and a floor-length skirt. Some looks were styled with neon pompom broaches; others with jingle bells dangling from models' fingers. Yes, there was a theatrical exaggeration to this first grouping - call it Tibetan Riding Hood - but where's the fun in playing it safe?

Ezra Constantine, the men's collection, provided the filling to the Greta sandwich. Here, long coats were the standout - tough and tactile. A consistently black and grey palate allowed for daring fine-gauge knit sweaters that cowled to the waist and wrapped in ways that offered peeks of side body and shoulders. One poncho seemed tailored for cool finance types in foul weather.

The second women's grouping was largely jersey - because really, how could they not - in crimson and cobalt to punch up the black. There were silhouette updates, though: new asymmetrical focus and less Grecian formula.

Over these dresses were more long coats. Seek them (Holts carries the line) out; they're just so wonderfully dynamic. Less so: the velvet pants, a challenge on all but the most bird-like of legs.

As for the paisley embroidered wedge boots, they were one-offs made by Aldo using fabric supplied by the designers. But printed boots also appeared at Jil Sander so some sort of fast fashion hybrid may yet appear. By then, the designers will be several steps ahead, trying to figure out how to top themselves yet again.

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