Adrian Wu wide

Review: In Defense of Smart Fashion and Adrian Wu S/S 2012


Last Friday 21-year-old designer Adrian Wu showed his first collection at LG Fashion Week. It was ingenious and I gave him a standing ovation (very unlike me). Was the collection perfect? No. But it was a damn fantastic example of what we’re missing in Canadian fashion.

Unfortunately there’s a large contingent of fashion ‘media’ (by trade or hobby) in this city who don’t like to think. That’s why press releases are regurgitated so carelessly and rave reviews are printed when the Mimran Collective whispers sweet orange nothings with their sponsorship dollars. So understandably, a collection based on physics might’ve been a bit too aspirational for some people’s liking. And Adrian suffered for it.

First came the Commes Des Garçons copycat accusations. Let’s remember Adrian wasn’t even a decade old when ‘lumps and bumps’ came down the runway. Just because he’s an aspiring designer doesn’t mean he’s got the last quarter-century of fashion memorized. Remember when Brandon R. Dwyer didn’t know who YSL was on Project Runway?  If you look back at Adrian’s previous collections, you’d see 3D fashion has always been his M.O.

Are we so used to Canadian designers stocking their grocery/department stores with major label look-a-likes, that we can’t fathom the notion of something original showing at LGFW? The comparison between CDG and Adrian is a stretch, anyways. CDG’s lumps were deformations of the physique and barely noticeable when put side-by-side with Adrian’s. This was a show of monster photon-protrusions. Please tell me we’re more sophisticated than “all bumps look alike.” Plus, Adrian’s dresses had ruffled waves a lot of reviewers forgot about… probably because “phallic” is a lot more fun to write than “wave.”

Next critique: “But I couldn’t see the dresses clearly!” Um, that was probably the point. In the double slit experiment (that Adrian’s show was inspired by), mere observation can affect the outcome of macroscopic events. This means particles somehow ‘know’ they’re being watched and misbehave and do unpredictable things. It’s wacky, yes. But it sparked some pretty interesting scientific theories and Adrian’s dresses took on the same unpredictable waves and bumps when we watched them. Want to see RTW? Go to the showroom. Runway is about inspiration.

Then there were the half-zipped zippers and unfinished hems. The major conclusion of the double slit experiment was, despite all our advanced science, we don’t know very much about this universe. Our understanding is unfinished, and likely always will be. Adrian is much too meticulous to forget to zip-up a model or sew a hem. This guy taught himself quantum physics—he’s not about to miss a few stitches. These ‘unfinished’ touches were symbolic. This should’ve been obvious in combination with the paint splatters and imperfect material choices.

The sexuality of Adrian’s collection, overt and unabashed with dresses named “The First Period” and “Blue Balls,” is likely a continuation of his interest in Freud’s theories on human sexuality (the inspiration behind his F/W 2011). Again, there’s a tie-in here. The double slit theory is a perversion of science; it’s something unpredictable and contrary to logic. Freud is also all about perversion. And Adrian showed a collection of perverted dresses—two of them on men. His dresses were named after progressive stages of sexuality and all the confusion and chaos that comes with them. This exploration was supposed to be meaningful, not criticized with the maturity of a 12-year-old learning about menstruation for the first time.

The bottom line of Adrian’s collection—scientific, sexual, or otherwise—was chaos. It was gutsy, original, and beautiful. Please keep it up, Adrian. Canadian fashion needs you to spark our imagination and fuel our desire to be more than just ‘wearable.’ Plus, next season you’ll be a sophomore, and we only make the rookies explain themselves here.

Photos courtesy of the FDCC

Lucian Collage

Review : Lucian Matis S/S 2012


Through blustery winds, pelting rain, and an altercation with Beck Taxi, I somehow managed to make it to 99 Gallery for the much-hyped Lucian Matis show. Expectations were high after Matis wooed the industry with intricate beading and knits for F/W 2011. Unfortunately, like many blossoming Canadian designers, he found it hard to duplicate last season’s strong showing.

Please, designers, create pieces Lady Gaga hasn’t already worn. Studded faux-nude bodysuits are great for the  MTV awards and a make-out sesh with Britney, but a luxury catwalk? Not so much. Besides the fact my toy poodle couldn’t fit into one; they come off as fillers thrown in because the designer didn’t have enough time to round out the collection. Let’s be real: they’re not gonna sell, and they have the artistic value of Bedazzle… so what’s the point?

And yet Matis can certainly craft a gown. His attention to detail and ability to work with delicate textures is immaculate. Onlookers  drew their breath as airy gowns moved naturally and whimsically down the runway. Layers separated and swayed in perfect rhythm. Dresses contained just the right amount of juxtaposition: tightly woven ribbon, then showering sheer chiffon… regal, but sultry. Evening wear fit for a Roman goddess. If you’ve ever watched HBO’s Rome, I’m thinking Atia.

Matis’ woven ribbons also made for a few unique and colorful mini-dresses that were actually quite stunning. Where he went wrong was resurrecting what I refer to as the ‘loofah’ look. You know those obnoxiously poofy dresses designers think look good after working with too many toothpick models. The problem is no real woman can pull them off, and who wants to look like Mrs. Big Bird?

Matis clearly has a lot of talent. But it has to be focused– preferably on luxury evening gowns where he shows best.

Professional photos below by Ryan Francoz: