Project Runway Canada continues…

Though Project Runway Canada has long since concluded, L’Oreal Fashion Week will never be the same. PRC alumni can fill a tent like few Canadian designers do, bring gossip out into the open where it seems to want to be, and generally inspire passion in what was once considered a rather staid scene.

As a PRC superfan who blogged the whole series, its immensely fascinating to see what the designers can do outside the reality television fishbowl. In particular the top two designers, whose TV-licious love/hate relationship ensured they were the last two men standing. Now its time to see them spar like real designers – frock to frock instead of face to face.

I saw two very different collections.

The winner of the game show, Biddell, launched the week with the first show on the program. The anticipation was heightened by a lot of talk about a ethical sense of purpose and a striving for “edginess” and something new.

His invitation featured an unfinished drawing by a precocious sixteen year old, which as it turned out reflected the final collection well.

Evan Biddell used similar inspiration as last season – Spring 2008 was Saturday Morning Cartoons, and this season it was Anime. A real distinction or a Peter-Pan like resistance to moving on? He used the same fabrics as last season, but didn’t do anything different than what he had done before. A touch of origami pleating here, a nod to an Obi belt there… the clothing itself revealed a timid designer. Which wouldn’t be so annoying, if I had not had my appetite whetted for something new and edgy and controversial.

Oh, except for the “controversial” bit at the end.

Biddell, if you had blown me away with your collection I might have been more tolerant. But that was a sophomoric performance in every sense of the word, and giving us all the finger was just as predictable as the clothes. Not everyone applauded.

Lucian Matis presented an all black collection, which was unabashedly Lucian. But that was okay, because we expected nothing less than what we received; a parade of romantic jet-beaded beauties, a fantasy of hyper-femininity. Some pieces were clever; some were overwrought; all were created to a rigorous standard and a singular vision, which is what makes a collection really satisfying to watch – it shows a designer’s point of view, his reasoning, his offering. For this, Lucian Matis received a standing ovation from a full house.

So which duelling designer came on top this season?

Matis is not the only designer to challenge the outcome of the game on the real runway – Carlie Wong, Stephen Wong of Greta Constantine, and Kendra Francis are all showing what they’ve got at L’Oreal Fashion Week tomorrow and Thursday – and this time, we all get to be the judges.

Photos – Lucian Matis and Henry Roxas

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