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Stoneleigh Style Report: Bustle Goes On Safari
Shiny linen suits, trenches striped like pajamas, and (you guessed it) pith helmets

Photo: Keith Beaty/Toronto Star

Some months ago, I was taking the subway late at night and noticed a gentleman in a khaki outfit that made him look like a 19th century explorer, complete with pith helmet. A weird lady sidled over to him and asked about his “interesting costume,” to which he shot back, “It’s not a costume; it’s how I dress.” I thought of this adventurous gentleman at the Bustle Clothing show, which took as its inspiration African safari by way of Californian surfer.
Through faux elephant tusks, designer duo Shawn Hewson and Ruth Promislow sent out models in loud flower patterned shirts and shorts, shiny linen suits, trenches striped like pajamas, and topped with (you guessed it) pith helmets. The mood was playful: acting like tourists, the models wore binoculars and old-fashioned cameras, turning the tables on the people watching them. They were also physical with each other. A high five went awry and caused a model’s hat to fall. After three attempts, in which the helmet flipped through the air, he caught it right before it hit the ground.
“We love to put on an actual show,” Hewson tells me afterwards. “You guys all come down here, and you pile into a room, and you watch show after show… The clothes are primary, but it’s fun to have some other stuff there to keep the mood light and have people entertained.”

The safari theme arose from the beautiful fabrics the pair found in their travels in Brazil and Italy, not from any wild life excursion.

“Unfortunately, we’ve never been on a safari,” says Promislow.

“We kind of did it backwards,” Hewson admits.

“Now I guess we need to go on one.”

“Can you imagine if we wore some of that stuff on safari?”

Photo: Moira Romano/MyETVMedia

“Where did you get the helmets?” I ask.

“That’s a secret…” comes the mysterious answer.

Bustle is known for injecting menswear classics with a funky twist. The company’s literature continually uses the word “cheeky,” so I ask the designers to define it.

“Playful with an attitude,” Promislow says, with barely a pause, an explanation even a writer would have trouble beating.

I first became aware of Hewson through his position as Designer Judge on Project Runway Canada. I mention that I was a fan of the show.

“Are you going to ask why Lucian didn’t win?” he sighs.

“I’m not now, no. Scratch that. Which alumnae are you most proud of?”

“Obviously, Evan Biddell is an incredible talent,” Hewson says. Diplomatically, he continues. “Sunny Fong is an incredible talent. He certainly seems to be making great strides in the industry. Lucian Matis is amazing. I just spent three weeks in China with Lucian, doing fashion shows there. His clothes are beautiful.”

It’s nice to hear him speak so well of the contestants, as on the show he oftened played the role of the tough judge who was hard to please. One of the things I don’t like about the fashion industry is how it intimidates people, how judgmental everything is, and how it’s so easy to worry about making a faux pas. It’s why I not only bought a new jacket for Fashion Week, but went overboard with colourful printed shirts, ties, and pocket squares.

Speaking of overboard, I ask if the designers expect people to wear the loud, floral patterns (some of which verged into abstraction) in combos, or clashing mix and matches. The look may be a tad too cheeky for Toronto men.

“There’s something for everyone in there,” Hewson says. “Whether that be something simple, or something crazy, or two crazy things together. It’s up to you what works for you. I would advise anyone to do what they like with fashion.” He pauses and points to my shirt, with an intricate pattern of roses, and my magenta houndstooth pocket square.

“Like, look at you! You look great.”

A vote of confidence from a style ‘judge?’ Makes the fashion jungle a little less scary. 

This post was sponsored by Stoneleigh wines. Please enjoy our products responsibly. 


Max Mosher writes about style for Toronto Standard. You can follow him on Twitter at @max_mosher_

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