Narnia Nu-Wave designer Colleen Booth.
We’ve all been obliged to attend humiliating themed parties, yes? Where only the host is excited about her “Hawaii in the’ 60s” get-together, Jell-O salad pyramid and all? Where guests are forced to feign enthusiasm and laugh—once again—at the sloshed new divorcees’ getting “lei-ed” jokes. No? Well it’s painfully uncomfortable, and so was yesterday’s FAT presentation.
This year’s Alternative Fashion Week has been broken up into daily themes, and yesterday’s was “Natural Currencies,” with a focus on sustainable fashion. When it comes to this narrative, people have a preconceived hippie notion of organic, screen-printed cotton shirts, Brazilian drum beats, and dreads (sorry, but come on, it’s true). And sadly, these were all in attendance at FAT’s second-day exhibition, only perpetuating this freegan-eating, hemp-wearing stereotype.
Interpretive earth-shattering dance by the Catalyst Dance Company.
The first set of shows began with a performance piece by Catalyst Dance Company fatuously titled Earth. If it weren’t for the two topless and ripped men doing a Brazilian air-karate dance—er, capoeira, that is—then we would have been dreaming of an apocalypse. Thankfully their glistening chests kept us distracted from the interpretative planetary explosion. The feather tutus on some of the girls were brilliant, but we’re not sure if real feathers are sustainable.
The first presentation by menswear label Loft 604 vindicated the tan-tan beats, with a series of loungewear and oh-so-comfy-looking sweaters. A navy cable-knit version was the first look, with leather appliques securing varnished toggles, the sandy brown elbow patches making the cardigan boyfriend-worthy. Their two-piece jersey jammies were a welcome change from boys’ usual sleepwear go-to’s, but anything would be really. The show continued with a run of great sweaters, some in finer knits and double breasted, while others took on the lapels of a blazer, navy piping defining the edges.
Jool was up next, with the first half of their show featuring some great light-denim looks. A super-cropped denim vest with grey tassels in reused sweatshirt material and a collarless jean shirt with the same fringe but this time in black, with snap back sleeves, were great examples of some DIY additions you could actually DY. The second half of the show, however, was lost in the folds of several cut-up sweaters and sweater dresses, worn over lame leggings. Someone please fast forward to 2011 already.
Kali showed a series of brilliant trousers.
The sustainability of our eyesight was restored by Kali, whose every matte charcoal silk trouser and crop top was covetable. An ankle-length silk skirt in the same colour is a perfect basic for the summer and would work brilliantly with the cropped tank in a darker hue. Both pairs of pocketed trousers in full length and a little shorter were perfectly tailored, while another version of lighter-grey skirt taken up higher on the waist made us praise the stage the Kali models walked on.
An hour later, the second installment of designer presentations became a convoluted foil. Ica Watermelon, the Berlin-based designer presented by the Goethe-Institute—which FAT had been pushing all week—and who were supposed to start the show, were nowhere in sight. Instead, they opened with a shocking series of male models who looked like they had just stepped out of a Narnian Nu-Wave circus: light sabers, iron staffs, and all. If fluorescent red parachute pants and goggles are any indication of where sustainable fashion is heading, designer Colleen Booth is ahead of the game. The collection was a series of chaotic prints, styles, and fabrics, brutishly styled on each model, broken up by a light-saber bout to end the show. The only saving grace, or more appropriately, saving Aslan, was a pair of drop-crotch leather pants, with the crotch area in a black wool, as well as two versions of dropped wool pants that looked like long johns, but better.
DIY you can actually DY, from the Make Den.
The Make Den, a sewing club in Bloordale Village, presented examples of their designs last night as well. It’s an interesting approach to local sustainable fashion, for those of you who’d like to learn to sew (don’t look at us). They had a great layered lace skirt with just enough volume, every layer in a different lace pattern, each with a slightly different off-white hue. They also featured plenty of cropped tanks (yes, again) with fringe and crocheted hems, and a too-narrow lace full-length skirt that could have done with a little more strutting room.
As the second set of runway shows came to a close and Ica Watermelon still hadn’t shown, founder Vanja Vasic first told the antsy audience they were having technical difficulties, only to announce a few minutes later that Ica Watermelon wouldn’t be showing for another hour. We had to wonder, was someone smoking a few too many hippie cigarettes in honour of last night’s theme, or what? Well, we didn’t wait to find out—we were far too afraid of the staff-carrying gentleman coming our way.
Photos by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.