Tendrils of smoke enveloped the runway and the sounds of heavy breathing opened up UNTTLD’s show at Day 1 of Toronto Fashion Week. The runway featured dramatic velvet looks paired with elbow gloves and a saint-like crowns, luxurious silks and 1920s-style cloche headwear. “We were thinking about the idea of a Renaissance woman,” says designer Simon Bélanger, one half of the Francophone duo that makes up UNTTLD. (The other half is designer José Manuel St-Jacques.) “A real contemporary woman is a woman that does everything and wears all the hats. In the Renaissance, you could be an architect, you could be a scientist, you could be an artist. It was a period of discovery. So for us, we wanted to mix together all these references and put it all together in a very modern way, with jewel tones, satin, velvet, a very rich Italian idea of luxury,” he explains.
The inspiration for the collection was equal parts luxe and evil. The glamorous Marchesa Luisa Casati, a muse of the Surrealist and Dada movement who once owned a pet leopard, served as a muse, as well as the Medieval heiress Lucrezia Borgia, who was born into a family known for poisoning their enemies. “We like things a bit more sauvage, feral and dangerous,” says Bélanger.
The beauty inspiration for the collection, however, came from a less lurid source: their agent Elsa. “She has been wearing MAC’s Lady Danger red lipstick since we’ve known her. She stains everything with her lips, so that colour is really an homage to her.”