keith beaty/torstar news service


Silk slip dress, $1,195 by Lida Baday, at Holt Renfrew.


You only have to look at the fashion accoutrements that are the big winners this season — long gloves, big statement necklaces, over-sized clutch­es, knuckle-dusters, even dramatic matte lipstick — to get the message: grand slam glamour is back.

Women are returning to dressing up. And for the party season, they’ve tucked that little black dress at the back of the closet and are opting to leave the house in an elegant long evening gown.

Canadian designers are heeding the call, and many upped the glam quotient in their fall collections. “There’s been so much short short lately, it is great to bring it back to some glam classic gowns like the screen sirens of the ’40s,” says designer Arthur Mendonça.

Another designer who has seen an increase in orders for drama at his atelier is Thien Le.

“This year, everyone is opting for full-length gowns,” says Le, who operates a custom-order studio and is renowned for his glamorous eveningwear. “Last year, they all wanted cocktail dresses. This year, they are all ordering full-length.”

Why the return to floor-sweeping entrance makers? Le credits the boisterous economy, the healthy Canadian dollar and an increasing numbers of balls and galas. “I couldn’t sell a long dress before. I would try to get my clients to wear one but I would hear, ‘I have no place to go wearing that,’” he says. “Now, apparently, they have places to go.”

Lida Baday, another designer who had evening gowns in her collection this season, cites the celebrity factor for driving women to add glamour to their lives.

“People are seeing celebs in their full gala gear and are looking to have glamour in their own lives. When a woman chooses to wear a gown it signals that the occasion is special and it’s a special night,” she says.

Opting for full-length evening dresses raises the bar, not only in sophistication and glamour, but also the attention that will have to be paid to the details — hair, makeup and accessories.

To get the full Cinderella effect, you have to go all the way, from head to toe. And that allure will pay off. “Wearing a gown will definitely get you noticed. It’s also a chance to experience a new look. When you get that invitation and an opportunity to shine — go for long,” says Kirk Pickersgill, one half of the design duo behind the hot label Greta Constantine.“You’ll be the one that will be photographed and talked about the next day!”