The Shows (Thomas Tait and Calla Haynes)

Written by: Steven Carver //

With the proliferation of offsite shows popping up from season to season, it’s inevitable there would be some shoptalk as to who would produce the best ones. After reviewing the shows at The Shows, all I can say is its competitors have a tough act to follow.

Founded by Paola Fullerton, The Shows goal is to “bring together our extraordinary Canadian fashion designers and provide them with an opportunity to show their collections in Toronto… without incurring any financial cost.” Ambitious, but – with official beauty partner P&G Beauty & Grooming, hosting sponsor The Ritz Carlton Hotel, modeling agencies, hair and makeup artists, photographers, videographers, AV and countless other people supporting the production – possible to achieve.

Personally inviting a group of designers (Thomas Tait, Calla Haynes, Jean-Pierre Braganza, Todd Lynn) to show over two days, the presentations allow these creative minds another public platform to showcase their talents.

Thomas Tait Collection

First off was Thomas Tait. Known as the youngest student to graduate with an MA in women’s wear from the prestigious Central Saint Martins, Tait is a minimalist for the future. For spring/summer 2012, it’s Judy Jetson sportswear for the country club. Clean lines and little fussiness.

Shown with white socks and sneakers, the styling brought an urban touch to what was an otherwise very WASP-like attitude. There were touches of vintage Balenciaga with its play on volume, stiffness in collars, and long shirttails (apparently, it’s the new peplum).

There are details the audience saw up close that can’t be seen online. It was unfortunate photographs didn’t capture the minute aspects of the clothing. Pale green, pink, yellow, and blue fabrics that had subtle shine and textures wanted to be touched, like a ribbed cotton that almost resembled corduroy.

There was a simplicity in the items, but a complexity in their execution.

Compared to the pared down sportiness of Tait’s collection, Calla Haynes’ line embodied an upbeat prettiness. There are obvious nods to her past work with Olivier Theyskens (check out the moulded cups of her bustiers), which is a positive in anyone’s – fashion – books.

Her collection felt like a reflection of a not-so-prim 50’s housewife. Sheer fabrics, fuller skirts and unbuttoned blouses (save for a hint at a Canadian tuxedo – gotta love a nationalist!) gave subtle hints of a woman on the verge of having an affair with the gardener. The glamourous bedhead pointed at the possibility.

But, there was nothing subversive about the colour palate. Stipple, flocking-like effect on yellow meringue fabrics, silky green flowers, blue, pink and purple watery stripes – it was evident a lot of work went into her textile design for each season.

After looking at these two collections at The Shows, you want to bypass winter so spring can arrive sooner, rather than later.

Calla Hayes

(Photos courtesy Jenna Marie Wakani via