Toronto’s first men’s fashion week allegedly drops collection for being “too feminine”
by Kevin Naulls
Toronto Men’s Fashion Week (TOM) kicks off tomorrow (August 12), but the calendar will be short one designer.
Mic. Carter’s L’Uomo Strano has been pulled from the event’s roster, in a situation the designer describes as a conflict of interest.
“I attended a fitting held by TOM on August 9. The reception by their team was positive, and the line was introduced as being avant-garde and haute couture by the event producer, Hans Koechling. I received a call from the Executive Director, Jeff Rustia, the following morning, informing me that the collection was too feminine and that it had to be re-conceived by his stylist so that it would appear to be more masculine,” Carter says of an event that allegedly took place just three days before the fashion week was set to begin.
It’s an interesting development, as it calls into question the definitions of masculinity and femininity that continue to evolve as the world investigates gendered language.
But for Executive Director, Jeff Rustia, there appears to be no grey area in the world of gender, and any means of treading beyond traditional definitions is considered worrisome. According to Carter, “[Rustia] described the collection as ‘emasculating’ and said that he was concerned the headlines would read, ‘At Toronto’s first Men’s Fashion Week, they are presenting women’s wear?’”
A cursory glance at TOM’s official homepage corroborates this petrified man child response to a few extra pieces of flair. Facial hair, musculature, tattoos and blue steel-like attitude are the only signatures of masculinity represented in its welcome graphic, and it all reads like an erasable whiteboard at an ad agency brainstorm. There are no men in skirts, or artful representations of man as seen on runways from Yohji Yamamoto to Walter Van Beirendonck – it’s all fairly basic. While the commercial fashion world might codify its offerings, a fashion week, as far as I can tell, is meant to showcase the city’s talent. Fuck, the world has bronies for Christ’s sake.
Whether or not a buyer or observer feels Carter is talented is subjective, but what’s clear is that the organizers were seeking out his aesthetic for the launch.
“I was approached in April by the Executive Director of TOM via Facebook. We had worked together before – I presented a piece as part of the 2013 Canada Philippines Fashion Week, which he also produced. He was very persistent with ensuring that I would participate in this Fashion Week,” Carter tells me in an E-mail.
Instead, the director allegedly abandoned his interest in the designer’s aesthetic, and began taking accessories off like some sort of Men’s Fashion Coco Chanel. “He suggested, for instance, to style the looks with army boots instead of men’s Indian kurta slippers. I asked for some time to think about it, and responded to the executive director via email articulating my concerns,” Carter says of the organization’s heavy-handed and caricatured approach to men’s fashion.
And when it came time for Carter to get the ol’ heave ho? Well, according to Carter, TOM asked the event’s stylist, Julia Gignac, to be the bearer of bad news. Because when the chips fall and there’s awful news to dispense, a man – a masculine, hearty stock – doesn’t do it himself. He sends the stylist, and she calls on the phone. Carter basically received a Post-It note. I’m sorry. I can’t. Don’t hate me.
By August, Carter tells me he had spent a total of $8,000 to produce the looks. Now they don’t have a runway.
And to think The Guardian’s Morwenna Ferrier just said, as of Monday morning (August 11), "This coming season, expect to have your boundaries pushed, as garments, styles and models move fluidly between gender expectations."
All attempts to reach TOM organizers were not returned by press time.
Toronto doesn’t just have a problem mayor.
Upsetting: cookie cutter men’s fashion being enforced is unappealing and, uuugh, nauseating. Sad days for fashion.