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Sister Muses
Chlo Comme Parris's new collection seems destined to hang on the backs of edgy ingnues.

Flowing tops in wool and organza; sheer paneled dresses and velvet leggings; worn leather bags with heavy silver buckles and silver straps, slung over shoulders like bandoliers. Chlo Comme Parris‘ new collection, sombre, moody and perfect for some sort of goth cowgirl, seems destined to hang on the backs of edgy ingnues like Alexa Chung, Taylor Momsen or Sienna Miller. Such boldfaces well fit Chloe and Parris Gordon’s theoretical muse, an “effortlessly chic tomboy” who isn’t drawn to tight dresses and more obviously feminine looks. (Emmanuel Alt also springs to mind, the new editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, famed for her fondness for neo-grunge and preference for jeans instead of skirts.) Unveiled over a week ago at LG Fashion Week, the collection dazzled everybody: Andrew Sardone gushed in Now; in Eye, Sarah Nicole Prickett said, “They’re true and talented designers… These girls get it. They are it“; FashionMagazine.com’s Randi Bergman simply wrote, “Wow wow wow.” Chloe Gordon herself was much more modest: “It seemed like the crowd felt we had stepped it up and we grew up from last season to this one.” The Gordon sisters grew up in Toronto, their background perhaps more befitting budding lawyers or traders. Born and raised in the same Rosedale home, they attended the Toronto French School, Branksome and Ridley before decamping for Halifax and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Their Bay Street broker father instilled in them a strong business ethic but their painter mom taught them a love of art; the house overflowed with her frescoes. She also taught them a love of fashion; trips to Holt Renfrew were as routine as trips to the playground. Chloe’s now 23 and Parris 21. The former focuses on the clothes while the latter, now finishing her final year in jewelry design at NSCAD, works with the accessories. According to Chloe, the women talk “at least five times a day,” usually to discuss ideas. When Parris finishes school this summer, she’ll return to Toronto, though not to live with her sister. “Not that we don’t get along beautifully,” Chloe says, laughing. “But I think, with the passion we put into the collection, living together might get to be a bit much.” Chlo Comme Parris is part of the six-month-old Fashion Collective, a fashion collective (duh) that consists also of labels like Amanda Lew Kee (known as much for her bright blue lipstick as for her party girl frocks); Juma (a brother-and-sister team whose specialty is drop crotch pants and drapey tops); and Klaxon Howl (retailer of work wear and military-inspired menswear). With Toronto’s style arbiters sporting major fashion wood for these sisters, you’d think Chlo Comme Parris would be flying off the shelves. So far anyway, the girls are only carried at Yorkville based UPC Boutique, who acquire  designer labels from alt-fashion capitals like Berlin and Stockholm, and Rosedale’s The Narwhal, known for its quirky indie labels. But they’ve been in talks with The Bay and Holt’s – who’ve expressed interest and even put aside (but not yet bought) eight pieces from the collection, including a mohair sweater in grey and a nubby wool bomber. This summer, the girls will visit London, where they plan to meet with Wolf and Badger, a Notting Hill shop specializing in independent designers from the UK and beyond, and hope to meet with Selfridges, Holt’s cousin shop. “We love Canada and we love Toronto, but there’s not a lot of money for fashion in this city,” Chloe says. “Selling internationally is our goal.” Don’t worry about a brain (or beauty) drain, however; the girls are staying put for a while. “We really respect Jeremy Laing,” Chloe says, “for selling and showing elsewhere but staying based in Toronto.” Next season or the one following, Chloe hopes to show at Milk Studios in New York, known for showcasing emerging talents (Laing’s shown there), and, if that proves successful, participate in Copenhagen Fashion Week. New York is obviously more challenging, but an absolute must for international sales; that city’s fashion week is a month prior to ours. “There’s so much great stuff,” Chloe says, “and buyers just don’t save their money for Toronto.” Vogue‘s editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley once told the Globe and Mail he’d never come to Toronto fashion week, saying he’s too busy. But if he and buyers are smart, they’ll clear their schedules, skip the Louis Vuitton show (how many man-clutches does one need anyway?) and save their cash for Chlo Comme Parris. Fraser Abe is a Toronto-based writer whose work has appeared in Toronto Life, Eye Weekly and Aggregation Magazine.

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