Photography by Irina Luca

With two collections tucked under her spiked leather belt, Amanda Lew Kee is, once again, what everybody’s talking about. She’s young and gorgeous; she swims in a pool of money and connections, and you can often find her popping bottles of champagne on a Monday night at the ultra-lux Thompson hotel. Life’s good if you’re Amanda Lew Kee, and any teenage girl who knows anything about fashion will quickly nominate her as their “OMG, favourite Canadian designer”. But what remains to be agreed upon is whether or not she has any real sartorial talent, and if so, when is she going to, you know, use it?

Her first collection, which debuted exactly a year ago knocked the socks off even the biggest of skeptics. She had set the bar high and was left reaching for it on her tiptoes with her single-silhouette showing six months later. So when she revealed her official fall/winter offering, things could go either way: She could pick-up from where she left off or repeat the mistakes of spring.

The theme was natural disasters. … I’m guessing this was the natural part of the show. Or was it the disasters part?

Most would say she’s met her previous two collections halfway with last night’s showing of what the designer called “natural disaster inspired clothing.” The show opened with a belted, black fur dress that will easily become a best seller. A black mohair pencil skirt followed starting the long chain of black on black separates – which was the collection’s strongest point. Materials like sheer black organza were paired with creamy black velvet; lines were sophisticated and generally uncomplicated save for the repeated use of gold zippers down the front, up the back and from side-to-side. Tailored ’60s-style suit jackets – the most impressive creation of the evening – were decorated with bright red, green and gold, um, tinsel-style trimmings. And if the collection had stopped there, it would surely have ended on a high note.

But Lew Kee’s repeated weakness is that she always tries to do too much. Instead of a solid collection of, say, 20 pieces, she’ll double the quantity and pursues a plethora of afterthoughts. For the young designer, this is where her collections always lose steam and any sense of cohesion. In no particular order Lew Kee showed sweatpants, metallic nylons, the iconic floor length slip dress this time in black knit; a ghoulish green ‘plastic’ texturized suit, grey and black knit sheath dresses with sequins and stud blocking, sheer organza skirts and dresses, nipples and safety pinned-on roses; and let’s not forget that tinsel. Halloween orange, electric blue and Christmas green tinsel were transformed into jackets, skirts, tops and capes. I’m guessing this was the natural part of the show. Or was it the disasters part?

In other news, long, icy gold Fay Dunaway-esque fingernails – the models’ manicure must – thankfully replaced last season’s icy blue lips.