Oh Canada, why couldn’t you support your great talent? On hearing the belated news of the demise of one of the country’s strongest fashion brands, I felt this had to come out of the archive…
Canadian designer Jeremy Laing has been gaining increasing attention in recent years on the international circuit for his clear vision that involves strong lines and intricate details in draping, folds and prints. Following on from his SS10 collection with its sculptural forms and palette drawn from concrete and stone, Laing’s AW10 collection sees him staying closer to home with a collection that is inspired by Canada’s Pacific North West; think Redwood forests and the forms and motifs of native North American culture with, mercifully, barely a fringed suede skirt in sight.
Instead, expect prints alluding to the light falling through lush Sequoia woods or textiles that take the tradition of the totem in the direction of abstraction and plenty of warm fur and hide. And, of course, a proposition for womenswear in which sensuality, practicality and a certain individual elegance prevail. This is one of those strong collections that manages to balance its rustic and anthropological sources of inspiration without ever resorting to cheap pastoral or ethnic clichés. Instead, we are left with a collection that cleverly balances fitted tailoring with nonchalant draping and an off-hand dramatic flair.
Some have commented that Laing’s sensibility seems to be closer to that of Europe than the dominant trends in American design, even though he is no stranger to New York’s Fashion Week. But, before anyone launches into that old USA vs.Canada discussion, it’s probably worth noting that Jeremy Laing spent a lot of time in Europe, where he grew up on military bases in Germany. Granted, not a classic breeding ground for the delicate soul of a fashion designer. But, on the other hand, it was here that Jeremy Laing learnt to make clothes; primarily self-taught and learning from those around him. These autodidact talents were subsequently honed by further study in London and an apprenticeship at Alexander McQueen where his work on showpieces taught him a range of skills that he later applied to his own thoughtful collections.
It’s not that Laing’s collections are understated. It’s rather that their considered approach to detail and overall silhouette invariably demonstrate that when a woman wants to take control of a room, all she needs to know is what is worth stating subtly and what small detail speaks volumes on its own. Jeremy Laing’s AW10 collection amply shows that no woman need shout in order to be taken seriously on numerous levels. The strength of statement is not necessarily correlative to the harsh volume with which it is made.