The shOws: The artistry of Steven Tai


It's no wonder fashion historian and curator Alexandra Palmer likened designer Steven Tai's studio to a science lab - the man is a mad sartorial scientist.

During their talk at the shOws in Toronto, after the London-based designer's models had paraded a dazzling array of sparkling tweeds and foam floral appliqués down the runway, Steven explained the painstaking process of creating even one garment.

Take the blue jacquard fringed coat he showed over a tweed, drop-waisted dress - the fringe we ogled was actually the result of rebelling against the traditional treatment of jacquard, which the designer sees as "royal and traditional, and I wanted to be unsentimental about that."

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So he instructed the French textile company from whom he sourced his jacquard not to cut off the floating threads that are normally removed, and cut them himself to create what would appear to be a feathery fringe - but one that flays in opposite directions from the seam. This technique was used to create coats both with and without lapels, a long vest, a bomber jacket, a scarf and a skirt.

And the dress beneath the coat, a frenzied amalgam of sparkling threads, PVC strands and flowers?

"Four movies," Steven said, explaining that he measures the time it takes to make a garment based on how many movies he watches.

To achieve this specific texture, the young designer layered sparkling lurex, woven PVC, laser-cut nylon and sparkling tweed before cutting it up to make a voluminous, show-stopping fringe.

And we fell hard for the inspiration behind the look: A girl broken up with her boyfriend who keeps all his clothes and slashes them to make them look better than ever!

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