“Please be seated. The show will begin in five minutes.”
I sat down in my front-row seats — which I sneaked into after certain sponsors decided not to show up — excited to experience the world of high-fashion. The blaring bass pounded as the music started up and the models started to walk down the runway in their high heels and strategically placed outfits. The confidence these men and women exuded while on the runway was varied — there may have been some amateur models in the mix, but everyone did well and there were no falls. Each day was different, with various performers gracing the stage and designers showcasing their beautiful pieces of art.
Fashion Art Week (FAT) is a week-long annual event that features live performances, art installations, and, of course, fashion shows and film. I attended three of the five nights and was incredibly impressed. Some of the outfits were not my taste, but it was fascinating to see how each designer interpreted this year’s theme: “Dress Codes.”
The theme was meant to express how fashion plays a role in a person’s identity and culture. The models strutting down the runway were both male and female, wearing an assortment of outfits that may, or may not, have met the stereotypical definition of what a man and a woman should be wearing. The designs transcended these gender definitions, and this proved quite refreshing. Men walked down the runway in heels, women went barefoot, and everyone modelled the lingerie.
Tuesday night’s ode to Bowie was especially memorable. The collection was designed by Evan Biddell, a Saskatoon-born designer and entitled “Rebel”, a fitting label for the show. Now, I call it a show because with the lights and background music (a compilation of Bowie’s greatest hits), full makeup and ziggy-esque outfits, it was quite the remembrance. There was no better way to represent this year’s theme then to acknowledge Bowie’s brave and iconic representation of sexuality.
Some of my favourite designers displayed a more casual collection. Designer Sun Sun, for example, used the slogan “Custom Androgynous Comfortable Clothing for anyone” to describe her collection. The designs were much more urban and the fabrics chosen were patterned black and white. Above everything else, the models had fun walking down the runway. Most smiled, struck poses, and literally bounced to the beat as they strutted. It probably helped that they were all wearing flat shoes. Friday night featured Padina Bondar, a Toronto-based designer whose work centers around the female reproduction system. It sounds a bit disturbing, but it was actually quite beautiful. The dresses were absolutely breathtaking, and I found myself sitting at the edge of my seat to see how they would make pregnancy and menstruation into such a work of art.
Every designer showcased something quite different and unique, which ultimately was what this year’s theme was all about: fashion isn’t gendered, rather it’s expressive of personality, creativity, and individuality.
Despite the long wait between shows, I enjoyed my time at FAT. What I loved most was the creative atmosphere. Guests would walk up to each other and compliment their outfits (most said they made them themselves), asking what colour of lipstick they were sporting, and cheering loudly after each performance. After speaking with some of the designers and guests, most said this was the biggest difference between FAT and Toronto Fashion Week — the atmosphere and the focus on art and photography as an element of fashion.
What about the fashion trends? Here are some of the observations from the night:
- Pastels are just as popular as bold colours: About half of the designers chose to use light-coloured fabrics or pastel themes. There were a lot of whites, pinks, and light blues. There was an understated elegance in these collections. In contrast, most of the lingerie was darker and bolder.
- Short in the front, long in the back: Many of the skirts and dresses had a flowing silhouette or a sheer train that followed the “short in the front and longer in the back” mantra. Personally, I loved the movement this type of design created.
- Texture is our friend: Bold jewellery and chunky designs was a recurring motif throughout the week. Crinoline was used to give the shorter dresses some pouf while bows, flowers, and belts were used to provide texture on seemingly normal black dresses. It’s all about the accessories ladies.
To be honest, my favourite part about covering FAT was dressing up myself. As someone who works in an office most of the day, my typical office-wear includes a nice pair of pants and a light top/cardigan combination. This gave me the opportunity to test some of the lesser-used tops in my closet, including a flowing butterfly shawl with tassel and my dark purple lipstick.
What do you think of these designs? Let us know in the comments below!