Most of the Canadian designers have opted for a romantic spring, with much softer colors than last season. The romantic look, as presented by the Canadian designers in their ready-to-wear spring preview, leans to ruffles at the neckline and wrists and to flounces or knife pleats at the knees. This indicates a longer slimmer look with the dress shape based on the chemise, falling free from the shoulders and often accented by a dropped waistline. The chemise look seems here for a protected stay.
Indeed, even Pat McDonagh, known more for her rakish styling, has gone "innocent" for part of her costumes, such as teaming a ruffled blouse with khaki jodhpurs. She has also produced a series of demure dresses as well as jumpers and pants in loden green with lacy white blouses.
Colors tend to be more delicate than other spring seasons, but Paris-trained Michel Robichaud highlights the traditional spring combination of red with navy. White has always been a favorite with John Warden. This season Leo Chevalier has incorporated lots of white for a "crisp, clear and cool look" and Hugh Garber has turned to soft gray.
"The skirt length continues to creep up, barely skimming the knee as often as covering it," says Mary Stephenson, vice- president of Fashion Canada.
One designer who prefers skirts to hover safely at the knee level is Francois Guenet who has projected a girlish look in dresses with drop waists, neck bow, and full pleated skirts. Most of his collection is in polka dots.
In the knee-baring theme, city-oriented shorts headline several of the designer collections. Mary Stephenson believes these "city shorts," as they are called, are going to catch on. "They are stronger than it was thought they would be," she reports, "and even earlier this winter, were being worn to work. After all, they aren't much shorter than some skirts." Marilyn Brooks combines Bermudas with a longish buttonless jacket. She also likes above-the- knee box pleated skirts.
With skirt lengths rising, heel heights have plummeted. Flats or a scoop wedge are the spring news here, although the higher heel remains for evening wear.
There's a 1940s influence in the collection presented by Gabriel Levy of Vancouver with dirndls and tiered skirts in soft colors. And jumpsuits, almost in hiding for several years, have emerged as favorites with several designers and with the public.
Canadian designer fashions for men have forged ahead over the years in excellent collections by Michel Robichaud and Leo Chevalier. Robichaud's line of menswear and accessories, started in 1971, is now the largest in Canada and is carried right across the country. It includes suits, shirts, fur coats, knitwear, ties, belts, and watches. His line is conservative, goodlooking, and comfortable. One of the more daring combinations for spring is a red jacket teamed with knee length navy shorts and a light blue shirt.
Leo Chevalier's line is more sophisticated although simple and uncluttered. His spring look is crisp, in lightweight linen blends. For example, he teams white linen slacks with a camel-toned blazer for day. But for evening suits, black predominates, worn in the dashing Chevalier manner with red belt and red bow tie.