This year, the design team behind the city’s super-buzzy fashion line Chloé comme Parris opted to show their SS13 collection outside of the big white tents. Why? We caught up with the sisters at their Queen West studio to get the scoop on rival fashion weeks, why Toronto’s comes too late, and the butt-ugly fashion trend that they just can’t stand.
Toronto fashion week is on now, but you guys showed your latest collection last week at something called Rogue Fashion Week. How come?
Chloé: We have always worked with a fashion collective [that is now called] The Collections. They represent a few Canadian brands, and this year they wanted to do something off-site, which sort of made sense for us, too. We’ve shown four collections in the fashion-week tent. We wanted to do something that was more intimate and personal and up close, so a show in the Burroughes Building was perfect. Also, the World MasterCard Fashion Week, if that’s what it’s called right now, is just really expensive for new designers. If you show at 3 o’clock, you’re paying about $3,000 dollars for the runway. If you show at 8 o’clock, it’s about $20,000.
Do you think these splinter fashion weeks are going to continue?
Parris: Definitely. In New York there are different shows going on all over the city throughout the week. No fashion capital in the world has all of their designers under one set of tents.
C: When you show in the tents you don’t get to make your own rules. For fall, we had wanted to put rose petals and thorns on the runway and we weren’t allowed to do that. For a new Canadian designer it can be a great platform to get a lot of people at your show, but Parris and I are in our fifth season now, so we don’t need to have a thousand people at our show.
A couple of years ago, André Leon Talley of Vogue fame said he would never come to Toronto fashion week. Are things getting any more relevant?
C: Toronto fashion week is really only about getting local press. The buying season was over almost a month ago. Budgets are completely maxed out and people are generally exhausted from being in Milan, Paris, London, New York. They’re not looking to add another stop.
P: Well, they’ll go to Tokyo because that’s the big thing.
Tokyo is the big fashion week now?
C: Yes. What you really need is one big person to accept it. Like if Anna Wintour were to say Toronto is great, everyone would start coming here.
What was the inspiration behind your SS13 collection?
P: We started looking at Assyrian costumes, which is a Middle Eastern culture that came before Christ. We decided to contrast that with the surf and skate culture of Venice Beach in the ’70s. We always base our collections on something historical crossed with something more modern.
C: I was in a bookstore over Christmas last year and there were a bunch of old books with drawings of these Assyrian costumes. The attention to detail was through the roof and we’re a very detail-oriented brand. Parris was really into the surf and skate style. We were inspired by some movies from that era and the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys.
The consensus seems to be that the clothing is a lot more flowy and feminine than we’re used to seeing from CCP. Are you going through a girly phase?
C: Not really. Every season we like to try things that we’ve never done before. I’m terrified of the colour pink. I would never use it normally. I don’t like things that are really obvious, like putting a girl in pink, so I made a pink leather biker jacket to flip that concept a bit. That was everyone’s favourite piece.
Let’s talk current fashion trends. What excites you?
P: We’re not really into following trends because they’re really just a marketing ploy. I guess I love how the ’90s are finding their way back into fashion, both in terms of the whole Calvin Klein minimalism thing and also the crazy, louder electronic stuff.
And what about something trendy that you’re not so into?
C: The Isabel Marant wedge sneaker that everyone is wearing.
P: First of all, they came out in the summer. Who wants to be wearing sneakers when it’s so humid? We love Isabel Marant so much, but it is just not a pretty shoe and everyone has it. My friends are asking me if they should get a pair, and I tell them next spring you are going to think that’s the ugliest shoe in the world. It’s like the Uggs of 2012.
I read that when you were little, trips to Holt Renfrew were as common as trips to the playground.
P: More common!
C: When we were little our mom would take us on “walks” to Holts and we’d sit with her in the change-rooms for hours on end. We couldn’t necessarily afford a lot of the stuff, but just going and trying it on and having that experience from a young age definitely got into our subconscious.
As sisters and business partners, you must get into arguments now and then.
C: It’s not really fights so much as we’re working through an idea. We both want the best for CCP, so it’s just disagreements about how to get there. Sisters can say anything they want to each other. We don’t have a buffer.
Paris or Milan?
Chanel or Versace?
Flats or heels?
P: Nick Carter.
C: Aaron Carter.
P: Modern Family.
C: Walking Dead and Dexter.
What would you save in a fire?