Simon Bélanger and José Manuel St-Jacques are winners. For five years and more, they have been taking home prizes for their fashion daring, including the Mercedes-Benz Start Up competition last fall for their spring collection.

The fruits of that prize included a runway show last night at Toronto Fashion Week, where they wowed with their fall 2016 lineup. Working in chain mail, lamé, lurex, embroidery and silk, they reworked their signature kimono inspirations, adding wild or wearable fur accents. They showed their virtuosity in strictly catwalk showpieces, but also did perfect day and cocktail dresses, edgy leathers and fur toppers. Especially wearable – those kimono variations.

The collection was inspired, they said, by eclectic characters in the Renaissance.

Here’s what they said in an interview for a Fashion magazine feature about their work:

The idea is to take extreme ideas, Bélanger said, and find a way of incorporating them into garments that can be worn. “It’s easy to do crazy, borderline, costumey things.’’

They have discovered who their customer is. “They’re all business owners,’’ Bélanger said.

“She’s in a position of power professionally,’’ adds St-Jacques, naming “urban” lawyers, public relations executives and restaurant owners among their clients.

Bélanger adds: “The main idea is that we want all of our garments to exude power.”

And they are working from their signature styles.

“The details we often play with are pleating, lacing, and always some kind of transparency, leathers, and black of course,” St-Jacques says.

And Bélanger: “We’re not into reinventing fashion every season. Instead of revolutionizing, we want to evolve.”

Here are some pictures from the catwalk at David Pecaut Square in Toronto, shot by George Pimentel.


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