Marilyn Brooks - spring/summer 2001

I quote Marilyn Brooks. “Farmer’s Almanac said it’s going to be a nice day, and so it is.” Unknowingly upstaging her sources, her ability to design trendy, wearable fashions of quality once again proves to be more reliable than the Almanac, nearly four decades after she first graced the Canadian Fashion Stage.

Cumberland Park, across the street from her flagship boutique, proved to be the ideal venue for Ms. Brooks’ spring/summer 2001 presentation. The site, familiar to Torontonians for its open-air runway defined by a column of steel arches, was truly an urban location: construction site to the north, street traffic to the south. However, her warmth and hospitality somehow transformed the affair into a sort of garden party as welcoming packages were handed out to the invitees and Ms. Brooks announced her collaboration on a new book with Oscar Peterson and Adrianne Clarkson, The Trans-Canada Trail.

The collection is composed of a classy blend of prints and patterns, dressy and light. The orange and purple sets of gentle, unfolding versatile layers were formalized with collars, cuffs and scarves. Make no mistake - consumer-friendly clothing doesn’t have to be conventional. The innovative creations in this collection show what pastels on a ginseng and guarana overdose look like. MAC did make-up, Pierre Lalonde did hair and Town Shoes contributed some great snake-skin clogs.

In this collection, a lot of emphasis is placed on lower-body mobility. Some of the most delightful outfits are in darker colours, such as a leopard-print black and purple chiffon chemise, or the stunning black and white patterned skirt and shawl complimented by a snug black top. The more geometrical cream knits and black and white two-piece outfits with triangular prints and fringes added gusto to a collection of mostly delicate fabrics. In every outfit, the back is comfortably draped. You could walk a thousand miles in one of those dresses. Marilyn Brooks has perfect balance.

A flawless show, however, was compromised for those on the outside of the arches. Like the platforms in a New York City subway station, they reduce lateral visibility.

The simple combinations of yellow-orange with purple-blue appear to be the signatures of the Canadian collections of Spring 2001. Slightly reminiscent of the trendy home furnishings we all bought in the 90’s. It’s exciting to see fashion taking cues from the objects we surround ourselves with.
If anything’s obvious, it’s that forward-thinking Canadian designers are poised to re-appropriate ideas into promising, innovative contexts.

Daniel Cox, Fashion Editor
Marek Wlazlo, Photographer