Womenswear has no gender

Womenswear designer Rachel Sin with models in her designs backstage after her Spring 2015 show.


On the playground, it is boys versus girls and on the runways at World MasterCard Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2015 it was no different.


Womenswear dominated the spring collections presented at Toronto Fashion Week this season. Both female and male designers presented interpretations of what they see women wearing when the flowers bloom next year.


Although some collections featured similar trends, there was a district aesthetic to the way men dress women and the way women design for themselves.


Rachel Sin is a womenswear designer based in Toronto, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.


As a jet-setter herself, her Spring 2015 collection features designs for the independent, woman on-the-go that feature structural silhouettes inspired by her education in architecture.


“As a woman, I design for women,” says Sin. “I’m a busy woman so I know how that feels.”


She conveys female empowerment through strong lines while maintaining the functionality required for the office with the ability to wear it for a night out.


According to her, the “Rachel Sin woman” is intelligent, she is strong, and she knows what she wants and how to get it. This mantra is executed in her Spring/Summer 2015 collection through power suits and feminine blazers.


“I think what the clothing has to do is take you from day-to-night and it has to be versatile,” she says.


Sin believes it is important for women to feel comfortable while looking their best. Her collection features business like structure but in comfortable materials such as Ponte, which is a double-stretch knit, for movement and elasticity.


Another designer with a similar view of women’s fashion is Nikki Wirthensohn of the label NARCES.


Wirthensohn is the daughter of a tailor who worked with Victor Edelstein, a designer who worked for the British Royal Family. She lends techniques from her parentage to her Spring 2015 collection. Unlike the day wear of Sin, she designs after-five and elegant eveningwear. She uses delicate appliqué to convey the softer side of women’s fashion.


According to her website, NARCES has always been “influenced by iconic women of the 1940-60s, an era synonymous with romantic glamour and elegance and empowered by a unique sense of style.”


This is a strong contrast to the natural design aesthetic of Toronto-based designer Matthew Gallagher. His Spring 2015 collection features a monochrome palette with design over functionality. For example, his dresses feature fuller skirts and luxurious fabrics that lack day-to-day versatility. His hems run shorter than designers like Sin, limiting the size and age demographic of women as well as the practicality of the garment.


Another male designer who chose design over practicality for Spring 2015 was Sid Neigum.


He was the first designer to show on the Fashion Week runway at David Pecaut Square. His collection featured a minimalistic, structured design with origami inspired appliques on black and white fabric. In addition to having his own show, Neigum was one of six designers who participated in the annual Mercedes-Benz Start Up show.


Neigum has dominated Canadian women’s fashion and has proven to be an industry favourite. He competed against a line-up of mostly female designers such as beaufille, comprised of sisters Chloe and Parris Gordon and Valerie Tolila of label VAIKEN. Neigum went on to participate in and win the Minnie Mouse Presentation competition against the same designers.


The competition was hosted by Toronto-based fashion bloggers, the Beckerman sisters, in partnership with Disney. The presentation celebrated fashion icon Minnie Mouse and her evolution of style. The designers had to create a head-to-toe look inspired by the character to be judged. Neigum was awarded $2,500 to be put toward his Fall 2015 collection.


Designers create womenswear based on the way they perceive the woman who will wear it. On Spring 2015 runways, both male and female designers produced different but acclaimed collections and proved gender does not matter when it comes to designing women’s fashion.

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Raechel Bonomo is a second-year journalism student at Durham College, a fashion writer and enthusiast / crafter extraordinaire.