A Diepo model gets sleeked for catwalk.
Fashion weeks are supposed to be about the who’s who, but the unintended brilliance of FAT—Toronto’s annual Alternative Arts and Fashion Week—is that you really can’t tell. Designers, models, artists, hairdressers, musicians, bloggers? They all mix and commingle, sharing everything from taste in tattoos to pieces of pizza (“Don’t forget to throw it up after!” says the flamboyant showrunner, relishing his made-for-reality-television role).
The “Fashion Whores” sell it to the camera.
FAT founder Vanja Vasic fancy-foots around in Fluevogs, fussing over models and looking every inch the frazzled designer, until you remember she’s organizing the whole deal. (“A labour of love,” she always calls it, and what else could it be?) Kristen Poon looks surprised when someone asks her if she’s modelling, even though the Diepo designer (along with her other half, Justine Diener) is as sweet-faced and softly curved as the amateur pin-ups wearing her retrofitted creations. A rockabilly makeup artist calls out, “OK, all you fashion whores, get over here,” and nobody blinks a fake eyelash. It turns out that “Fashion Whores” is the name of the opening show; the models all look like, well, rockabilly makeup artists.
In this happy-FAT family, we hate to be the redheaded stepchild, but someone has to say it: it’s not really what we’d call fashion. No amount of labour or love can make the majority of what’s shown here achieve relevancy (let alone appeal to the majority of tastes, though perhaps that’s not the point). With no corporate overlords hovering, no too-conservative buyers to please, and certainly no rules, we should be seeing bold new ideas in clothes. Instead, we’d be happy just to see clothes, not this rehash of old-rave and neo-Victorian costumes. Smatterings of art only compound frustration: when we look at, say, a globe covered by a black balaclava, we’re clearly not “getting” something.
Oh, but why poke away? FAT’s mostly in fun, for one, and for two, there were three great names to watch—and that was just the first night. (More coverage to come, and if you’d like to judge for yourself, day passes are aplenty; see the site for details.)
Diepo model Chassandre Lavictoire has it, flaunts it.
1. DiepoFresh out of Ryerson Fashion School and showing for the second time at FAT, the Diepo duet—that’s the aforementioned Kristin Poon and Justine Diener—earned the sweetest praises from last night’s audience. Inspired by vintage underpinnings, all the ebony silk and ivory chiffon loveliness—and one stunning black velvet sheath, poured over a veritable Veronica Lake lookalike)—seemed destined to drive any man mad.
(Here, because I was actually modelling in the show, I make a rare and necessary break from the editorial “we” to lend the first-person gaze. It falls on Kristen Poon, hand-sewing bugle beads to filmy straps right before the show, remaining somehow unflustered, and achieving applique-style perfection. Is this also a disclaimer? If you need one, yes. Please know that I don’t only endorse Diepo because I lend them my non-model’s strut. They really are a lovely pair of talents.)
A “day look” from the Katrina Tuttle show.
2. Katrina TuttleThis native Haligonian gets snaps for being the sole designer (among yesterday’s lineup) to put together a proper press kit. She probably did it herself, too; after all, she designed, sewed, styled, and photographed her rustic-prep fall 2009 collection without a stitch of help. That’s a work ethic we can’t help but applaud, and it doesn’t hurt that her sweet houndstooths and off-kilter bubble pleats would look perfect on a Canadian remake of Gossip Girl. To see her lookbook, visit KatrinaTuttle.com.
3. Jessica Mary ClaytonAnother Ryerson grad, this redhead looked like a bit of a Balmain bombshell in her sharp-shouldered, black satin seath, the front sequined in a diagonal slash or two of silver. For the runway she went all-white, with even more—but never too many—of the tinselly tiny sequins. One flapper-happy number, tiered in fine, creamy pleats, led us to wonder if some alternative bride wouldn’t wear it on her wedding day. It’s no idle thought: “I actually want to get into bridal,” Clayton says. “I didn’t mean to, but it just kind of happened.” Sounds like a shotgun wedding designer’s well on her way.
All photos by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.