Paul Hardy - fall/winter 2004

Paul Hardy indulges not only his fans but also his own creativity for fall 2004. Umber and maroon, deep charcoal and rich fire tones, subtlety betrayed by busy patterns and the whole kit and caboodle concealed by layers of fabric-never has the understated been so dazzling.

If this collection proves anything to those of us keeping track of what gets the heart racing, it was that texture is the heart of sex appeal. The salt and pepper jacket and skirt combo with frayed edges has an inherent coarseness with an energy all its own. Touches of boiled wool are everywhere, camouflaged for effect. Simpler pieces anchor the collection, like the spate of straight-cut skirts, even though a couple of them can’t help but show off their internecine webbed pleats. The men’s clothes are quicker to the chase-throw on a sweater if you’re an Oxford slacker, just be sure not to tuck in your shirt.

While non-conformist at its very essence, the Paul Hardy label still refuses to be trumped by France’s penchant for eye-popping colour this season-the variegated knit housedresses with silk chinoiserie detail come in jarring burnt orange. The shrug is no longer the designer’s life-support accessory. Detachable sleeves achieve both the warmth and isolation that are becoming synonymous with this eclectic Canadian fashion house.

Hardy’s relationship with fur and shearling is unique in that the pelt is not gussied up to mask its true nature. The raw cut is an essential part of the look, and the fact that much of it is left intact is simply another proof that Hardy deconstructs only what has been burdened by cultural artifice. Yet doesn’t the collection go from the prehistorically simple to the Hollywood glitz of silver sequins but one outfit later? It’s not the first time that Paul Hardy reminds us to check our preconceptions at the door.

Daniel Cox, Fashion Editor
Marek Wlazlo, Photographer