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Meet the cliques who make the Toronto fashion week scene

On October 19, World MasterCard Fashion Week sets up camp in Toronto (white big top and all) and with it comes the cast of characters who help elevate the event from an industry trade show to a must-attend social spectacle. As is often the case with any great performance, fashion week’s supporting cast is essential to helping its stars – in this case, the designers – shine. Ahead of the five-day-long parade on and off the catwalk, Nolan Bryant breaks down the cliques that make the fashion week scene, with a few helpful tips on joining one, should you wish.

The Stylists

Illustrations by Qin Leng

This clique, responsible for translating runway creations into high-fashion shoots and celebrity appearances, is revered by designers who are eager to get their collections to market. Dwayne Kennedy works behind the scenes with the likes of Sid Neigum and Matthew Gallagher, while George Antonopoulos has put together looks for Pink Tartan. Other names to know include Torontonians Talia Brown and Joelle Litt, and from Montreal, scene-stealer Cary Tauben and fashionable duo Savannah Scott and Sydney Anna.

Wanna join? Smart personal style is a must, as is an openness to schmooze your seatmate, who could be an editor from one of Canada’s top glossies (or a freshman blogger just dressing the part).

The Scene-Stealers

Much to the delight of the street-style snappers, this group of performance artists craft their personas through clothes. If the runway gets a trifle boring, you can count on these characters to keep you entertained. This crowd includes Zoomer editor-in-chief Suzanne Boyd, whose sartorial compositions often include feathers, capes, furs and mile-high hairstyles, and the Beckerman sisters, identical twin designers-turned-bloggers-turned-Instagram stars who love anything from the latest Moschino collection. There’s also art collector Bruce Bailey, who dresses for fashion week as a sort of fedora-topped Edwardian dandy, and Myles Sexton, a makeup artist and jewellery designer known for upping the androgyny ante with his peroxide blonde top-knot and teetering S&M footwear.

Wanna join? Spin around that old adage about taking off one accessory before leaving the house and add two – or five! – more. Skip the black and embrace the notion that fashion is about playing dress-up.

The Coif Camp

One of Toronto’s top coiffeurs once told me that “hairdressers are the best publicists,” so it’s no surprise that they’re often called upon to accompany clients to the catwalk. But the buzziest stylists receive their own invites, including Tony Pham, whose new Davenport Road salon is favoured by next-gen scenesters like wardrobe stylist Jenna Bitove, socialite Krystal Koo Cooper, Holt Renfrew personal shopper Marlo Szellos and event planner Candice Chan. Sandy Ciuro of Angst Salon is a favourite of the fashion pack including jewellery maker Dean Davidson and designer Arthur Mendonca. Jie Matar, who primps model Yasmin Warsame, and Robert Gage, the semi-retired go-to for Toronto’s old guard, round out the lineup of mane men.

Wanna join? Stylist school is a must and introverts need not apply. These guys are advocates for bold glamour and like to create a scene.

The Pink Tartan Posse

On Wednesday evening, Kimberley Newport-Mimran will present the latest collection for her label, Pink Tartan, to a packed tent. Lining her front row will be a gaggle of bold-face fans who add uptown cred to the downtown presentation. These are ladies who smartly mix Canadian-made ready-towear with their Bulgari jewels, and Joe Fresh staples with of-the-moment Céline. Trinity Jackman, Suzanne Cohon and Kate Alexander Daniels never miss a Pink Tartan show, and neither does Catherine Nugent, who brought Olympic ice dancer Tessa Virtue as her plus-one last season. Also often spotted are a handful of dutiful husbands along for the fashion-filled ride, among them Marcus Doyle, Mark Cohon, David Daniels, Tie Domi and, of course, Joe Mimran, the designer’s husband and biggest fan.

Wanna join? Host designers for dinner at your palatial estate in between collections, invite them to join your table at philanthropic happenings and introduce them to your well-heeled neighbours, who will help spread the word and shop.

The Street-Style Snappers

While the jury debating the legitimacy of street-style peacocks (those people outside shows in evening gowns at 11 a.m.) is still out, it’s hard to deny that they have become vital to fashion week’s hype machine. Capturing them all is the handful of photographers who brave the crowds to snap outlandishly dressed guests as they enter and exit the presentations. Their photos possess an almost cinematic quality, isolating moments that add to the allure of the event. Photographer Stefania Yarhi took my street-style virginity many years ago and is a mainstay among the snappers, along with Jenna Marie Wakani and Mauricio Calero. Roz Griffith Hall is another lenswoman with a style all her own, who often finds her colleagues’ cameras fixed on her while she is snapping others.

Wanna join? Get a good camera and start to train your eye. For inspiration, look to legendary New York shutterbug Bill Cunningham, who’s been documenting style for over 50 years.

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