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Patriotism reigns at Holt Renfrew's all-Canadian show Add to ...

"I loathe narcissism but I approve of vanity."

A short pre-show film that paid homage to noted fashion editor Diana Vreeland's iconic quote, kicked off Holt Renfrew's premiere showing at LG Fashion Week for the spring/summer 2011 collections.

The film was inspired by Holt Renfrew creative director John Gerhardt's obsession with Vreeland, said director Eva Michon.

Fashion patriotism reigned as nine of the luxury department store's 40 Canadian designers took to the runway at Heritage Court in Exhibition Place. "We're excited to showcase Canadian talent," said Holt Renfrew president Mark Derbyshire.

First out of the gate was golden boy Jeremy Laing's flag-inspired collection featuring a neutral palette of long, billowing and fluttering fabrics. Softly draped asymmetrical layers in sandy hues dominated save for one form-fitting maxi dress with a single rose pattern, which was said to be based on a flower laid on his grandmother's coffin earlier this year. Since Laing doesn't usually show on the runway in Toronto, it was a welcome change to see how the clothes move with the models.

"I tried to break everything down to the most minimal, boring shapes possible," said jewelry designer Jaime Sin whose simple exes and cross shapes complimented Laing's collection.

Lida Baday (we won't mention how supermodel Coco Rocha botched on her name in the opening speeches) stayed true to her brand with an understated and minimalistic approach to spring with feminine and flowing wardrobe staples. Wearable neutral skirt suits and the classic little black dresses, both long and short, were clear targets for her loyal customers - a point further proven by her choice in models who ranged in both age and shape.

"Our girl is an urban nomad," said Jennifer Wells of Line Knitwear. Their Runway collection, however, was a major shift from their cashmere capes with an assortment of prints, leather, macramé, key shapes, paper bag waists and culotte bottoms.

Set to the tune of Best Coast's Boyfriend track (kudos to the playlist for the entire show), it was all about patterns, stripes, and length for Pink Tartan. A bold departure from her norm, the collection could've almost been classified as cruise with its elegant yacht-side feel, nods to nautical with the hardware, and of course that electric blue jumpsuit.

"I channeled a lot of Marissa Berenson from the seventies Vogues," said designer Kim Newport-Mimran. "Just for that feeling of ease and comfort - the chic factor of the seventies versus the hippy side of it."

Then came the men with a casual collection by Wings + Horns. The standout pieces were front-pocket cargo shorts, an almost Wang-ian approach to chic comfort-wear with fancy jogging pants, ankle-length army green khakis paired with a blue-on-blue shirt and jacket combination and styled with lace-up military boots.

The Smythe models danced down the runway channeling Marc by Marc Jacobs in linen jackets with elbow patches that were playfully accessorized with flowery blouses (also Smythe), neon socks with sandals, big hair, stacked bracelets, and floppy hats. "The jacket is meant to be merchandised with anything in your wardrobe" said Andrea Lenczner of the Smythe duo.

It was a punk paradise for Denis Gagnon from Montreal with stripes in all directions, pleating down the arms, leather and lace, and a contrasting palette of black and white. He picked up where his last collection left off with fringewear - this time, tie-dyed and horizontal.

Quick shift to Wayne Clarke and eveningwear with a silent nod Valentino and a parade of five full length red dresses.

Closing the show was Mikhael Kale's superhero-meets-deconstructed prom feel with a bulked up emphasis on the hips, flowery patterns resembling wallpaper running down the legs, and pieces of clear plastic holding it all together.

In a grand finale, all 45 models stormed the runway to applaud the designers. As one group, the show's appeal to the consumer who is looking for everyday clothes with an edge, was apparent - all looks were accessible and wearable.

Vreeland also said that pink is the navy blue of India. Like the cheeky reference made to this idea in the opening video, we tend to agree that perhaps the Holts magenta really is the navy blue of Canada.

For more Toronto Fashion Week coverage, visit FASHION Magazine and Globe Style.

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