CLEAN SWEEP

From sculp­tural outer­wear to sleek pen­cil skirts, H&M’s sis­ter la­bel COS brings Euro min­i­mal­ism to Canada this fall. By RANDI BERGMAN

Fashion (Canada) - - Retail -

IF YOU’VE EVER COME BACK FROM VA­CA­TION

with a suit­case full of new clothes, you’re prob­a­bly pretty fa­mil­iar with the thrill of re­spond­ing, “Oh, this old thing? It’s from Paris,” to any­one who asks. Well, it looks like those days are done, as one of Europe’s best-kept se­crets hits Toronto and Mon­treal this fall. A favoured stop for glo­be­trot­ters with a taste for dra­matic sim­plic­ity (think wide turtle­neck sweaters paired with su­per-wide trousers), COS (a.k.a. Col­lec­tion of Style) is Swedish megachain H&M’s chic higher-end sis­ter. Launched in 2007, when it de­buted on the run­way at Lon­don Fash­ion Week, this cool la­bel of­fers sleek sta­ples in muted pal­ettes, go­ing big on the in­dus­try’s new wave of stream­lined min­i­mal­ism pi­o­neered by the likes of Cé­line’s Phoebe Philo. This sea­son, the la­bel’s ki­mono-style coats are the per­fect paradigms, with obi belts adorn­ing dusters and Wat­teau pan­els adding drama to the back­side. Sim­ply put: It’s not trendy—in a good way.

“We are heav­ily inspired by the world of art and de­sign and take in­spi­ra­tion from cre­ative out­lets rather than fol­low­ing trends,” says Karin Gustafs­son, head of wom­enswear de­sign at COS. The cool blonde Scan­di­na­vian walks me through the sea­son’s in­spi­ra­tion board at the brand’s HQ in Lon­don and is the pic­ture of ef­fort­less­ness in a silk tuxedo dress and gleam­ing block-heel san­dals. Fall’s in­spi­ra­tion runs the gamut from Ja­panese ki­monos to Ger­man pho­tog­ra­pher Olaf Otto Becker’s shots of Nordic glaciers. “We lock our­selves in a room for a few days to cre­ate our vi­sion for the sea­son,” she says. Gla­cial shades seem just right for the brand’s Cana­dian en­try—an icy blue sleep­ing bag coat and a speck­led black and white wool pen­cil skirt stand out as in­sta-hits.

At its core, COS is a trea­sure trove of sta­ples, with a twist. Take this sea­son’s many it­er­a­tions of the white but­ton-down: fin­ished with draw­strings, se­lec­tively placed cut-outs and gath­ered backs. “We love rein­vent­ing clas­sics and rein­ter­pret­ing them in un­ex­pected ways,” says Gustafs­son. “It goes back to our ap­proach to de­sign—cre­at­ing qual­ity, time­less pieces.” If we’ve learned any­thing from norm­core, it’s that time­less dress­ing is where it’s at.

FALL 2015 LOOKS FROM COS; HEAD OF WOM­ENSWEAR DE­SIGN KARIN GUSTAFS­SON (BE­LOW) AT HER OF­FICE IN LON­DON

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