By Megan Brady
This year’s |FAT| (Fashion Art Toronto) participants are nothing short of amazing. And this year, some of them are coming from across the world, including Canada’s very own art and fashion conscious city: the beautiful Montreal.
|FAT| FOCUS MONTREAL
Montreal is known as a city with a stylish edge, loaded with independent labels, local designers and one-of-a-kind boutiques. The Montreal fashion industry has a reputation for pushing boundaries, mixing styles and creating their own distinct esthetics. As a festival that explores the forward nature of fashion, past |FAT| festivals have presented debut collections from notable Montreal designers who have since gained major national interest including Martin Lim, Pedram Karimi, YDNA and Matiere Noir.
With the cancellation of Montreal Fashion Week this season, |FAT| is giving an inspiring line-up of ten artists and designers a platform to promote their work. Some of our guests:
Niapsou Di is a young up-and-coming fashion designer from Montreal who launched his clothing line as a self-taught designer. He has since presented three collections and his basic material is the African printed fabric. Always aiming to bring avant-garde to the cut of his garments, Niapsou is mixing perfectly today’s western fashion with an African twist.
Brittany Wacher is a Montreal-based fashion designer and her label Brit Wacher has been viewed at World MasterCard Fashion Week (Toronto), Vancouver Fashion Week, Ottawa Fashion Week and Montreal Fashion Week. She’s been featured in Vogue Italia, Glow Magazine and Clin d’oeil Magazine.
Paulina Wonders is a Polish-born Fashion Designer from Montreal. Her aesthetic interests drive her to explore themes of individuality and marginal sub-cultures with special concern for perception and beauty standards. Garments will be produced using hand-craft and digital printing techniques.
MELOW PAR MELISSA BOLDUC
Born in Matane, Québec, Melissa Bolduc has been passionate about creating clothes since she was a young girl. At 16, she dusted off her mother’s old sewing machine and started making her own clothes. Her collection at |FAT| this year is inspired by the clean lines and minimalism of Zen.
Andy Hoan Nguyen went to LaSalle College in Montreal and won Canadian breakthrough designer of 2010. He has appeared in Zink, Elle, Lou Lou, Nuvo, Gazette and other newspapers around the world as a new designer to look out for. As a dancer himself, he is inspired by all forms of art and transferring the genetic differences between men and women into unique clothing for both sexes.
Each of these artists will represent |FAT|’s theme this year of INFASHION/UNFASHION through the five sub-themes of earth vs. industry, grit vs. glamour, cult vs. culture, masculine vs. feminine and minimal vs. extreme. Having this Montreal focus this year is an awesome addition to |FAT|’s groundbreaking platform for up-and-coming talent from all over the world.
|FAT| 2014 runs from April 22-26 at Daniels Spectrum located in Toronto’s Regent Park. For more information about |FAT| 2014 and this Montreal focus, please see our Montreal Focus page here.
Written by Hannah Choat
Since its inception, |FAT| Arts & Fashion Week has been a platform for up-and-coming and accomplished designers alike. Now, in its 9th year, it is established as an essential multi-arts event for emerging artists and designers. Novice designers flourish among the experienced whose presence enable |FAT| to maintain its high level of respect and recognition. With this recognition it has become a launching point not only for Canadian designers, but a stage for foreign designers building international notoriety.
For 2014, Arts & Fashion Week imports include four designers from south of the border; two from America’s east coast, one from its west and another from Barbados. What these four have in common is their fast-building momentum, their decision to show at |FAT| is telling of its growing place in the alternative- fashion global community. So without further adieu, here’s a brief look at our visiting designers:
Candy Drip, Brooklyn, NY
Genavieve White heads Brooklyn-based fashion label, Candydrip. With a background in special fx makeup it’s no surprise that her designs are somewhat surreal. White uses platinum based silicone to fabricate tactile silicone infused clothing. The pieces drip down female bodies accentuating every feminine curve highlighted with colours as sweet as sugar. Last year Candy drip was on the cover of Auxillary magazine, an alternative fashion, music and lifestyle source featuring contributors from across North America, making it a perfect fit for |FAT|.
Catch the latest Candydrip collection on April 26, 2014 at 10p.m. The themes explored this day will be
Minimal vs Extreme.
Yen Geo, Los Angeles
The Yen Geo line combines east and west in pieces inspired by Japanese culture and Californian street style found in its hometown of Los Angeles. Yen Geo is a luxury street-wear and accessory line that uses the Yen Symbol to create pieces with a bold silhouette that becomes emphasized during natural movement. This use of movement works to represent the bustle and business of young artists trying to make it big for themselves. See Yen Geo in action here:
Yen Geo will show at |FAT| April 25 at 9:00 p.m.
Duality, New York, NY
Uta P. Bakaia, the designer behind Duality was born and raised in Tbilisi, Georgia before moving to New York in 1998 where he continues to work as a multimedia artist. Bakaia is well established and successful, having been involved in countless projects rooted in fashion including theatre, film, fine art and industrial design, he categorizes his clothing as “art-wear.” Bakaia primarily costume designs and his collections are full of fanciful creativity. The upcoming otherworldly performance art piece, Duality, will explore a parallel universe and the duality of a persona, sure to give audiences a surreal experience.
This past fall Bakaia was interviewed and featured in a spread in Anolie Magazine, an art, fashion, beauty, music and pop culture magazine from New York City, this is one of countless examples of the praise he has received. Bakaia has an extensive blog, “Uta P. Bekaia’s World of Art Wear,” readers can keep up with everything he is in involved, take a look here. Also, don’t forget to see his performance art piece at April 26 at 10:40 p.m. during the minimal vs. extreme and final day of |FAT|.
Here’s hoping that our talent from down south will bring the heat to Toronto!
Get your Tickets to |FAT| here: http://fashionarttoronto.ca/buy-tickets/
by Veronica Hufana
Typical models represent an almost unattainable standard of beauty, a dream or fantasy if you will. By contrast, alternative models are more accessible, more relatable, more…real. Yet it’s the fantasy image that continues to permeate our reality. To those of you upon which nature has bestowed these fantasy model characteristics, we salute you. We always have; often to our own detriment and disdain. But hey, lucky you; we won’t hate you ’cause you’re beautiful.
But consider the following:
· America to Korea 2014: Canadian-born Chantelle Young, born with vitiligo, becomes a finalist on America’s Next Top Model, cycle 21. The first model of her kind to be featured on the long-running series, she is currently receiving a groundswell of support online.
· New York, February 2014: Dr. Danielle Sheypuk, 35, makes her debut as the first ever wheelchair-bound model to take to the runway in the Carrie Hammer show. Said Carrie to the Huffington Post, “I made the decision to cast role models not runway models.” Read Daily Mail article here.
· Toronto Fashion Week, March 2014: Toronto-based designers include “unconventional” models in their runway shows; Christopher Bates featured notably older, distinguished gentleman (photos) while Sunny Fong’s VAWK show featured leg amputee model/runner, Amy Winter (article). Sunny Fong in particular has made the use of unconventional models a benchmark of his brand.
The model conventions of the fashion industry have been met with growing scrutiny over the past 15 years. Some say it’s about representing the consumers – the average, the niche, and everything in between – not readily seen on the high fashion runways. Others argue bigger social issues about positive body image, diversity or broadening the idea of what is considered “beauty.” At any rate the usage, advocacy and acceptance of alternative models is on the slow but steady rise and many, including |FAT|, are embracing the change.
The Alternative Model Movement
Activist and founder of the Diversity Coalition, Bethann Hardison said to Vogue in a recent interview, “When you start letting the faces of fashion look like all the kinds of people you pass in your own neighborhood, it’s just so much healthier.” Though Hardison lobbies specifically for racial diversity on the runway, hers is but one area of a much larger cause that includes the representation of models of varying sizes, ages, height, body adornments and disabilities in the fashion industry. Let’s take a look at just some of the alt-model and diversity activists that are continually working towards a more inclusive idea of beauty:
· Ben Barry, (http://www.drbenbarry.com/profile/ ) Toronto-based Global Expert on Fashion Diveristy, is an all-encompassing advocate for the various aspects related to model diversity. Recently, he has shifted his focus from his diverse model agency to his current position as Assistant Professor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Ryerson University. Tireless in his efforts to educate students and consumers of all walks of life, especially women, he seeks to achieve and integrate positive fashion images that elevate the diverse and alternative models to the glamorous standards of their conventional counterparts.
· Liis Windischmann (http://www.liisweb.com/) is a champion of size diversity. Boasting a beautiful size 14 figure, she has worked closely with Ben Barry as the Director of his modeling agency, and is the Fashion Insider for Loulou Magazine’s 14+.
· Notable fashion icon, Stacey MacKenzie (http://staceymckenzie.com/) , rose through the ranks of the fashion industry, overcoming challenges in her modeling career due to her striking and distinctive look. She has turned her industry “shortcomings” into her claim to fame, and now champions for the rights of others to attain the type of success she has through her “Walk This Way” modeling workshops (http://staceymckenzie.com/walk%20this%20way%20workshops/ ).
These examples simply round off the Toronto contingent! International advocates of the alternative model movement such as Models of Diversity (http://www.modelsofdiversity.org/) and the VisABLE modelling and talent agency (http://visablepeople.com/) in the UK have jumped on the “changing face of fashion” bandwagon and are experiencing ever-growing reach and success. Other alternative model agencies that have appeared within the last 5 years are AntiPretty (http://www.antipretty.com/) and Model Mutiny (http://www.modelmutiny.com/). With names like that, it’s hard to deny the revolutionary nature of the alt-model movement.
Despite the examples listed above, there’s still a long way to go. Let’s look at how |FAT| has joined the cause!
How #AltModels get |FAT|
Alt-models are role models. |FAT| has recognized this cultural shift and has made the use of alternative models an important part of it’s annual fashion event.
Though not all of the participating models are considered “alternative”, one of the models, Claudia Edwards (http://fasheuphoria.tumblr.com/), had this to say: “I don’t feel like there should be a distinction between ‘regular’ models and ‘alternative’ models because at the end of the day we’re all doing the same thing. We’re all walking in shows, doing photo shoots etc.” Claudia stands at a statuesque 5’9”, is of Jamaican-Italian descent, and her ‘do of choice is a shaved head. When asked about how she feels about being a |FAT| model, she replied, “I am honored to take part in |FAT|. The fact that |FAT| celebrates the use of alternative models is amazing. Not all models look the same, we are all unique and this is what makes |FAT| so interesting and diverse”.
Another |FAT| model that shares a similar sentiment is Sierra-Leon native, Victor Keita (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Model-Victor-Keita/336458746370233). “I don’t need to remind anyone that our world is changing. In our world of fashion and from way back, we’ve had the standard size of models, thin, tall. You and I know some of the struggles they go through to look a certain way and the pressure to stay that way. The idea of alternate models is fantastic. It means we are accepting of others, no matter who they are or what size they wear. Plus size, short, it doesn’t matter. In facts, let’s forget about the word plus size or too short, let’s just be happy to welcome new People into this line of work”.
It’s encouraging to see that the voices of these models match not only the “alternative aesthetic” of |FAT|, but it’s independent, self-expressive spirit. It would appear that the creative efforts of |FAT| and all of its participants are ready to be a force to be reckoned with in the crusade to recognize alternative beauty.
So what have we learned? Alternative models – rogue beauties, if you will – represent that which makes us different and unique. They defiantly find open sanctuary in their outward “imperfections” with each sure-footed stomp down the runway or out the door. They are proud not to fit into the strict confines of the unnaturally tall, pale waifs that are deemed worthy to strut the runways or grace the pages of glossy, glamorous magazines. They are, in effect, “model citizens”. And for that, an entirely different praise, perhaps even gratitude to these brave participants and those paving the way for them, is in order. With any luck, we’ll all look at the aforementioned changes in the fashion world as positive and in most cases, necessary to continue.
Allow me to close on Victor Keita’s enthusiastic note, “let’s be open, embrace and accept others, give alternate models a chance. And let’s ROCK |FAT|!”
APPLICATION DEADLINE: FEB. 21, 2014 INTERVIEWS: WEEK OF FEB. 24, 2014
We are looking for 4-6 passionate and enthusiastic people to assist in the PR/Media department for the |FAT| Arts & Fashion Week 2014 season, held April 22-26, 2014.
- be onsite for at least 3 nights of |FAT| - 5 nights is preferred
- must be able to devote minimum of 10 hours/week from March 1 to April 26
- must be able to work independently
- have impeccable spelling and attention to detail
- be available via internet, text and email
- have a passion to learn and a willingness to grow professionally
- be 19 years or older
This is an amazing opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look at fashion and a chance to gain real work experience.
Some examples of what you may be doing:
- assist with media relations (list-building, follow-up calls, identifying new sources)
- working on-site, assisting with media registration and requests
- writing reviews and/or blogs
- representing |FAT| on social media
- reaching out to community – direct promotion
*All PR positions are hands-on and require outgoing people who are not afraid of social situations!
Please send an email before Feb. 21, 2014 to Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org stating your name, program, past work experience or volunteer work. Please put “PR Volunteer” in the subject line.
PLEASE TELL US:
Why you want to work with us
Why we should choose YOU to act as a representative of |FAT|
What you know about |FAT|
*Please note, this is an unpaid position although chosen volunteers will receive 5-day access and the opportunity to be a part of an amazing, talented team who work relentlessly to put on one Toronto’s best events.
Thank you for your interest. Only those chosen for an interview will be contacted.
DOWNLOAD CALL 4 PR INTERNS
Every season in fashion we often see a new take on the old, modern reinterpretations of classic looks from days gone by, while these looks may give a subtle nod to the era they originate from very rarely due they keep the vintage aesthetic. Last season the amazing duo of Jennifer Murtagh and Katherine Laird rocketed us into the future to the year 3062 while showing off a traditional 60’s mod esthetic, this year however it felt we went back in time with an amazing collection that felt as if it wouldn’t be out of place in a modern more fashion forward telling of “Murder on the Orient Express”
This 16-piece collection blends both designers love of vintage with their playful side, creating a collection of classic swing coats, fur-trimming fit for a Russian empress, floral patterns reminiscent of Chinese brocade from the 30’s. Not ones to shy away from the sassy side of things in fashion, each piece was seductively opened or removed giving the audience a quick flash of skin and tattoos in the same respectful and classy way you would see at any burlesque show.
In the end it doesn’t really feel like |FAT| without seeing what the girls from WallacePlayford have in store for us, with the shows over for this season we are forced to wait with bated breath until we see what these designers bring to the runway next.
Photography by: Raymond Chow www.canadawears.ca