Highlights from the shOws Fall-Winter 2013

Toronto’s Fashion Month, which started last week with the launch of Moose&Beaver, continued this week with the shOws, featuring Canadian designers who show out of the country.  This two day event, which is one of my favourites, featured not the usual four, but five shows, including Tanya Taylor, Jean-Pierre Braganza and this time, Comrags as well.  Held at Andrew Richard Designs for the second time, it is far more intimate than not only the main course that is World Mastercard Fashion Week, but its previous location at the Ritz-Carlton.

Day One:


From a ready-to-wear standpoint, the collection was styled to be very wearable, with many pieces working on non-tall/skinny body types (this is very important coming from a short, though small-framed gal), save for some drop waist and “poofy” pieces.  Colour-wise, the collection is dominated by dark shades in the black ranges, with pops of olives, browns and winter whites.  There were also a few pieces with deep teal and orange looks as well as patterns (floral and honeycomb, especially).  Favourites were the slim-cut/pencil shaped dresses and skirts as well as the black and white floral pieces.  While the skirt lengths are probably not ideal for people under 5’7″, most look like they can be easily altered without changing the look.  However, some of the jackets would not work very well with skirts on shorter figures as they would cut them in half, making them look even smaller.

Jean-Pierre Braganza:

As much as I love the designs and looks, I can’t help but notice that only half of the collection was…practical. While all the looks were artistically styled, a good number looked like they were wardrobe malfunctions waiting to happen.  In addition, many were just a little…overwhelming looking.  While they were fine on the models, who are, for the most part, nearly six feet tall, I can’t help but wonder what they would look like on, say, Kristin Chenoweth (4’11” and probably not over 95 lb) or even someone on the taller side of petite like Natalie Portman.  The last thing linebacker!  That said, the designer’s use of colour and patterns is definitely something to praise.  Just wish that it was more wearable on non-model types.

Day Two:

Tanya Taylor:

While this collection was not as sleek-looking as her Spring/Summer 2013 pieces, it was also not on a “miss” list.  For a fall collection, there was definitely a lot of pretty, pale colours, a good thing, if one thinks about it, as it offers a contrast to the typical drab of the season.  The patterns are definitely a hit, especially on the sleek, below-the-knee dresses.  However, I have to question how well-fitting it would be on smaller, shorter body types.  It’s not only a length issue, but the fact that alterations would completely ruin the garment, as it throws the proportions off (this is one case where proper petite sizing is absolutely necessary).  Some of the styling was a little bit overwhelming as well, but it can be remedied by wearing them with other looks to tone things down.

Steven Tai:

Definitely an artistic collection, with a very strong 1980s geek influence with bright, multicoloured prints and loose tops – think Cliff Huxtable.  There was also evidence of 1980s-early 90s hip hop video influence, especially with the loose sweat-shirt like tops paired with loose pants and sneakers.  However, beyond artistry and creativity, there’s really not much else to say about the collection.  While many of the pants looked like they were more wearable, most tops did not really looks that the typical ready-to-wear individual would likely purchase.  It is worth noting that Mr. Tai showed a few pieces from the collection he designed for his graduation after the main presentation.  These pieces (see example in second image), inspired by books and print, were, by far, more artistic and creative than his Fall/Winter 2013 collection.

Jeremy Laing:

This was the highlight of the shOws, the most packed one of all.  Like Steven Tai, the collection was fairly artistic.  However, unlike the Mr. Tai, Jeremy Laing’s pieces were much more wearable.  The palettes more the colours we are seeing in stores right now (as in Spring/Summer 2013), with the minty-yellow-coral ranges.  Metallics, including gold pants, were also part of the collection.  While, as noted, the collection itself was much more ready-to-wear, it is worth noting that many were a little on the overwhelming side, looking a bit bulky in terms of how it was styled.  It is actually interesting how it looks up close as some of the looks work better in a less intimate setting.

There you have it, the shOws.  I’m definitely looking forward to see what the shOws has to offer in October, for the Spring/Summer 2014 season.  Next up?  World Mastercard Fashion Week.

Note: If you want to see more looks from these designers, check out the final walks on Vine here:



About Cynthia Cheng Mintz

Cynthia Cheng Mintz is the founder and webitor-in-chief of this site and the petite-focused site, Shorty Stories. She has also written for other publications including the Toronto Star and has blogged for The Huffington Post. Her first novel, Aspirations, was published in 2007. Outside of writing, Cynthia researches and advises philanthropic ideas for family funds and foundations and also volunteers.

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