LETTER FROM LEANNE: Lauren Bagliore’s fresh start

A look from Lauren Bagliore Spring 2011, a collection that our veteran fashion writer saw through fresh eyes (with a little help from a friend). Story by Leanne Delap.

Fashion reporting has changed completely since my days on the tour. I whipped around London, Milan, Paris and New York for a half dozen years in the mid-90s as fashion reporter for the Globe and Mail before I had kids; later I cherry-picked ready-to-wear shows and five-starred the haute-couture a couple of times as editor-in-chief of FASHION. Though in the years hence I never stopped writing about fashion, I oft maintained that I’d sooner eat beetles than sit through another show. It sounds so glamorous, but humping through the full seven-week tour filing stories made me more tired than a toddler with projectile stomach flu.

That was a puerile dismissal, for I now realize I was very privileged to have witnessed some extraordinary moments: I remember now crying at the first McQueen show I saw at the Royal Horticultural Gardens when the late genius sent models out in filmy gowns shackled inside cages, wading through water. That was the show he hand-carved a leg prosthesis for model Amy Mullins. I sat behind the legendary Suzy Menkes from the International Herald Tribune, and beside Jerry Hall. Everyone was moved.

I was crammed into a gate rushing the buzzy first Theyskens show, where then-Hole bassist Melissa auf der Maur was his Goth bride in elaborate black crepe corsetry. I saw Miyake’s final show, where 30 supermodels were strapped together in an undulating green silk cocoon at the Academy des Beaux Arts. (I was lucky enough to see the real supermodels in their runway heyday, the Naomis and Kates, even the Lindas, Helenas, and Christys at the Versace tribute show after his untimely death.)

I saw Yohji’s cantilevered bride and Rei Kawakubo’s lumpy gingham dysmorphic padding for the Merce Cunningham dance company, Gaultier’s Harlem show, Galliano’s circus at the wine cellars of Berczy, Lenny Kravitz opening a Versace show at a warehouse in Milan when I was so pregnant and hungry I was mostly focussed on the Italian McDonald’s across the street. Going on further would be wanking. I had forgotten what an incredible privilege and opportunity seeing the work and the spectacle first-hand can be.

So I went to the show of a much-touted newcomer at Toronto Fashion Week, Lauren Bagliore, a New Yorker trained at FIT (who worked with Vivienne Westwood and Zac Posen), and who lives in Calgary with her husband. I took a very fashion-adept 14 year-old with me. Fresh in my mind was the New Yorker profile of Tavi Gevinson, the same-age blogging sensation.

And I was immediately rewarded when we sat down: seeing a show through fresh eyes is invaluable. Bagliore’s show was very strong—she was working through a dark year of death in her family. It was refreshing to see the work of a young artist on her first big runway.

“I really come alive draping,” she said in an interview later. And her delicious Italian jersey pieces showed off that skill. Bagliore does incredible ruched leggings and completely original cowl-neck minidresses in a metallic black jersey that hug hips.

Her gauzy layers, moody hoods, one-shouldered tops in black and white were presented as a complete idea, a movement from dark to light, echoing the movement from loss to hope the designer went through.

“I almost didn’t show,” she said. “But in the end, I was rewarded. Buyers from all the major stores came to see me, and I’m so flattered and I got great feedback.”

Bagliore’s work comes from within: “When you grow up in New York, there is so much noise, so much input. The only place to go was within,” she says.

And my fashion show companion got that before I did. At 14, she had no reference for the sharp shouldered jackets or skinny legged looks with billowing tops. She wasn’t tarnished by MC Hammer when she looked at the harem-style pants. They looked fresh to her.

And it made me realize that Lauren Bagliore’s take on them was fresh too. Her grasp on draping kept the silhouette fresh. And her eloquent use of black and white made me think long after the model parade ended.

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