TORONTO - Buckle up, style watchers: The latest edition of Toronto's LG Fashion Week offers a flashback glimpse and fast-forward look-ahead at Canadian fashion with retrospectives and new designs ruling the runway.

The event will take a slightly different direction with an opening night gala Monday instead of designer-driven runway shows. The presentation will include a celebration of the centennial of beauty brand L'Oreal, as well as featuring costumes from the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

"It's a celebration of the essence of fashion," said Robin Kay, president of the Fashion Design Council of Canada and executive director of LG Fashion Week.

"I feel that theatre, which is an art, part of culture, (and) as design is art, part of culture, the evening celebrates being a designer and the art of fashion."

London, Ont.-born, New York-based designer Romona Keveza will celebrate her 10th anniversary with a retrospective of her designs and showcase of new offerings.

Fashion Week has relocated to a new venue which used to house an auto dealership, and this has meant saying goodbye to its former high-visibility home under the makeshift tents at Nathan Phillips Square near Toronto City Hall.

Designers seemed to embrace the decision to move house.

"I think change is good," said designer David Dixon, who will be presenting his Barbie line along with his signature collection. "I think sometimes the fashion industry has a very short attention span, including myself, so sometimes you need to shake it up a bit and try something new."

Sunny Fong, the Season 2 winner of design competition series "Project Runway Canada," will open the week with designs from his Vawk label off-site at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

While he's presented at Fashion Week in the past, Fong admits to feeling more pressure this time.

"Before when you're sort of not really a name or known for anything like when I started, you're sort of setting your first impression for everybody, but you keep on improving," he said. "Being on PRC, I feel like I set this sort of standard and I have to live up to it and there's more pressure to make sure the show is perfect at my level."

Fellow "Runway" alums Jessica Biffi, Brandon R. Dwyer and Jason Meyers will also showcase collections, as well as Season 1 winner Evan Biddell and runner-up Lucian Matis.

Amid the presentation of high-end luxury wear, the runway will also play host to the display of more cost-conscious creations from the likes of Joe Fresh Style and Sears.

The event will also be injected with a dose of international influence with presentations from the likes of Mumbai designer label Vibgyor and a designer and manufacturer delegation from Romania.

While Kay is keen to build international exposure for designers, she said it takes "tremendous funding." She hopes to one day establish a Canadian showroom for design talent.

In the meantime, Kay said her focus this season as it was in the previous edition, is on Canadian buyers and retailers.

"The reason for that is for the majority of new designers do not have big runs and they're best at showing up in stores in Winnipeg and Calgary and Vancouver and doing little trunk shows and getting their brands established," she said. "It's a very good building platform for newer designers."

Fashion Week runs Oct.19-24.


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