Toronto: Janet Hill, Eugenia and Nada Yousif


By Sarah Nicole Prickett

At the Janet Hill show Friday, Ryerson fashion students rushed to fill the front row seats (likely vacated by too-tired journalists), self-consciously snapping photos of each other and wide-eyeing the cluster of real photogs at the end of the runway.

Hill herself graduated from the program just last year, and her former peers would do well to follow her eager lead—especially when it comes to styling a show. Scarves twisted into models’ hair matched the ones the designer had handed out to early birds in the media lounge. Delicate crochet-and-filigree necklaces and hoop earrings by jeweller Biljana K. Carter were just arts-and-craftsy enough to compliment Hill’s summer-camp-happy, hand-dyed wares. Breezy silks came in Popsicle colours—grape, lime, orange, blue raspberry, and “cherry,” which in Popsicle world is actually hot pink—swirled with chocolate brown for a delish tie-dye effect. The clothes themselves were nothing new (think pleated smock tops and baby doll dresses), but one strapless number, bias-cut and twisted around the body, hinted at cooler shapes to come.

Eugenia Leavitt is one to watch, no doubt. The TFI New Labels winner and Montreal-based designer understands the finer things—and those who wear them. She knows her clients are the kind of cocktail party-goers who’d rather drink (quel horreur!) regular beer than be caught in Costa Blanca. Luckily, there’s no mistaking her precise pleats and artful, asymmetrical cuts, all wrought in raw, organic silks and cottons. Colours: ivory, black, shell, seafoam. Shapes: fan pleats and wave-like ruffles on gracefully fitted shifts and separates. Coolest look: on-trend crop tops, pleated in front and puffed-out in back, were paired with flirty shorts or a mini for a pin-up-worthy silhouette.

For Spring 2009, Nada Yousif wanted to celebrate music’s “golden age of rock.” To that end, there were exposed pull tab zippers (Arthur Mendonça lives on!), black leather pants and pencil skirts, and studded belts, one coolly slung over a model’s shoulder. Graffiti prints were sprayed on everything from wifebeaters to—rather bizarrely—a gold tulle ball skirt. Despite Yousif’s claim that she was inspired by rebellion, there was little to be found that was “on the edge”—or anywhere near it. The designer should drop the tough act and stick to what she does brilliantly: make going-out duds for bright young things. A rainbow fringe skirt was a great example of this, as was a grape satin frock with a tiny bustier and bubble-hemmed bustle.

Shown: EUGENIA Spring 2009. Photography by Peter Balinski, courtesy of Eugenia