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Holt Renfrew showcases homegrown brands at LG Fashion Week

A model shows a creation by Denis Gagnon during Holt Renfrew's show at LG Fashion Week.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press

For whatever reason, the Fashion Design Council of Canada insists on declaring a theme for LG Fashion Week. There was much head scratching over last season's "The Style of Power." This season's "The Business of Fashion" just so happens to share the same name as a widely popular fashion blog founded by Imran Amed, a Canadian who now lives in London.

Holt Renfrew opted to address the theme prior to its show last night with a campy video (directed by Justin Wu) showing designers, models, store employees and apparel manufacturers lip-synching, shimmying and shaking to BTO's Taking Care of Business. (Imagine a slicker version of one of those filmed American Idol segments and you get the picture.) It made for a decidedly feel-good kickoff to a week that celebrates our apparel industry as much as individual creativity.

This is the second time that Canada's luxury retailer has staged a show at LG Fashion Week. The point, it seems, is to feature homegrown brands available in store. The list currently totals 11: Todd Lynn, Ezra Constantine, Greta Constantine, Denis Gagnon, Pink Tartan, Wings + Horns, Smythe, Lida Baday, Canada Goose, Twenty Cluny and Jeremy Laing. It's a smart approach, mostly because each label presents five or six looks - just enough to get a sense of the collection but not too much in cases where there is also a completely separate show (look for a review of Pink Tartan tomorrow).

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Style-wise, there are contrasts aplenty. London-based Todd Lynn excels at a certain cerebral edginess (zippers that twist around the body, a deft hand with draping) that shares little in common with Canada Goose pink bomber jackets. The cheeky prep sensibility that Smythe designers Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe continue to explore (a Fair Isle duffle coat, plaid riding blazer) would seem to attract a different customer than the slinky dresses featuring sequins sewn into faux fur conceived by Twenty Cluny designer Sarah Rabin. Jeremy Laing's geometric approach to cut - an interplay between cling and cocoon - is a world apart from the more classically draped, tucked and belted dresses conceived by Lida Baday. There is little obvious overlap between hypermasculine Wings + Horns and all the draped tops and dropped crotch trousers from Ezra Constantine.

Yet, a common thread exists. Canadian designers understand winter, and if they aren't addressing its bite with layers of long underwear, they're conceptualizing shapes that envelop and protect. "You actually see a Canadian spirit," said Barbara Atkin, Holt Renfrew's vice-president of fashion direction, after the show. "We spend a lot of times outdoors and we need to look chic outdoors." Up here, that equals good business.

One last lingering thought: Laing's moonscape print with its repetition of bleak craters was truly out of this world.

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