event – R4 Fashion
Rolling back into town on the bus on Friday, I checked my old-school paper planner and remembered that R4 Fashion was on that night! Lucky chance that I caught the early bus.
This is an image of a pretty dress on the best model of the night (work!) by designer Rachel Chan featuring recycled Coca-Cola cans. For the full story of an amusing and unusual evening and a couple more pictures, check under the fold.
Just getting there was a tiny adventure. It was in the “Atlantis Pavilion” at Exhibition place and after getting off the streetcar I wandered through empty parking lots somewhat aimlessly until I saw the Atlantis sign shining like a beacon far away. I walked towards it and hit a tall fence and Lakeshore, which was a bit discouraging, but I followed the fence to a pedestrian walkway over the boulevard and finally made it to my destination.
Inside was a long confusing line-up (Canadians are not good at making orderly lineups despite our public school system) and when I got to the front I found my name was not on any list. I was about to do the right thing and go home when a generous girl with a headset pressed some drink tickets into my hand and shooed me in. My little adventure getting there was a portent of the night to come.
Once in the beautiful venue, with grand floor-to-ceiling windows showing a terrific view of Toronto’s skyline, confusion continued to reign. There were no names on seats! Fashion people were gobsmacked and we quickly had to revert to our predator instincts – I found one seat with a label for Anita and stood over the section like a guard dog, and when anyone tried to sit down I said “nope” in a way I hoped could not be argued with. It worked though I felt bad as I noticed some people who probably deserved seats more than I did (guests of the MC, designers, friends) losing out because they weren’t so assertive.
Then there was a kerfluffle with an irate model agent who was firmly proclaiming she would pull her models from the show if she wasn’t given a seat. Following tense negotiations around me she was seated right next to me, intimidating me to mention the injustice she was suffering on my website. So there it is.
When it was explained to me that this was a fashion event organized by engineering students, I became less frustrated and more amused.
Fashion Takes Action organizer and environmental activist Kelly Drennan was pinch-hitting as the MC and she did a terrific job on very short notice introducing the speakers and the show. The night’s organizer, Ali Suleiman (below) managed to get everyone’s good humour despite a very difficult night organizing a runway show for the first time – and as we all know doing anything the first time is never easy. The night’s speaker, Aiden Abram, was a charismatic speaker who aimed to charm fashion folks into embracing activism.
I wish I had more pictures to share from the shows but my photo skills weren’t up to par as usual. If anyone has a link to a full site send it my way and I’ll stick it right here. First there was a series of short runway presentation by established designers using eco-friendly materials – Thieves, Aime, and Carrie who all showed lovely garments as well as some exciting, unusual things. Below is a picture of an Aime design using recycled materials – I think it is crocheted plastic bags?
Following was a competition for fashion students encouraging them to use sustainable materials. The show was entertaining but sometimes uncomfortable to watch – there were a lot of “DSYC” moments. I feel the need to make a few suggestions – fashion designers, student designers, should try avoid stuff that is both short and tight (it looks slutty, not stylish, though the engineering students seem to love it), lacing with no other type of closure (abandoned hundreds of years ago for a very good reason), and bra-cup bodices (Kelly Cutrone’s advice to Whitney on The City was spot-on). It is kind of odd to see sustainable fabrics made into dresses that no one can really wear. It seems wasteful.
Between the stuff that made me cringe was some really inventive use of reclaimed materials and some stunning dresses. At the end of the night though, no one really gave inventive and gutsy knitwear designer Heidi Ackerman a run for her money and she accepted a very well-deserved award.
On my way out Ali gave me a box of tremendous Turkish Delights which left a sweet taste in my mouth. It was a lot of laughs and a great experience after all despite – or maybe because of – the rough start.