Dianna DiNoble makes gothic gorgeous.
It was the final evening of Toronto’s Alternative Fashion Week, and after three nights of surprisingly on-trend talents, cringe-worthy clichés, and some breathtakingly impressive innovators, we weren’t sure what to expect next. And though we would never attempt to pull off some of the heels we saw on the runway, our feet were tired of the walking back and forth. We were ready for a show, and with the night’s theme of Dress Codes, exploring fashion influenced by politics, gender, identities, and cultures—both multi- and sub- varieties—it sure came through.
Mitra’s first bride wasn’t a showstopper, but a showstarter.
Not terribly impressed with previous dance performances, we were wary when Kinetic Elements prowled onto the runway for “Resurgence,” which opened the evening. Awkward and out of synch, our fears were unfortunately confirmed. Was this the show we were waiting for?
Then came the fashion, and the spectacle had begun. Straight out of the gate was an eye-grabbing gray one-piece, with a tall collar, double-breasted, gathered legs, and side cut-outs with bold yellow accents. It was part of the Human Nature line, by Toronto’s Kallvis Chen, which, alas, became a little confused between mid-century militarism, and pieces more influenced by the dramatic male tunics of ancient civilizations. Nevertheless, Chen presented a line that was different, intriguing, and kept us guessing until the final strut.
However, next was Monikova which instead presented a culture we felt we’d rather rebel against. Beginning with sharp designs that worked with graphic and angled cuts and prints, we were confused with the sudden choice of legs covered in dark fur, creating a futuristic centaur/robot hybrid, which especially didn’t jive with a silver silk, deep-v dress with white tights that brought us from the forest to the prom.
But as soon as we saw the first Mitra model step out onto the runway⎯well, the more appropriate term would be aisle in this case⎯we could feel the entire room buzz with excitement. Dressed in a white swelling gown of lace and floral adornments, the model gracefully and carefully pointed her bare feet along the catwalk as her arms waved and flowed around her, relishing and soaking in every second of her time in the spotlight (as any bride does). Following this first look was a series of expertly crafted elaborate wedding gowns for the stylishly unhinged, including stunning beadwork, intricately stitched veils that billowed like white mist, and edgier accents like thigh-high stockings and white patent-leather platform boots. The entire line was a riff off the big story of the day⎯the royal wedding⎯and managed to be cunningly topical while enthralling the audience with captivating designs. Certain pieces stood out, like an embellished chastity belt adorning a not-so-virginal onesie, the tallest cone-shaped princess hat with lengths and lengths of fabric trailing from the tip (the princess hat our inner six year-old only ever dreamed of), and plays on the new Duchess of Cambridge’s frock itself included racy bodices of sheer lace that would have made the lady blush from head-to-toe (which, clearly, would be impossible to hide).
Wallace Playford’s lingerie numbers both rocked and rolled on the runway.
From then on, it was look after look of creativity and personality as designers continued to flaunt their knack for showmanship. The vintage vixens of Love in the Afternoon presented their lingerie line Wallace Playford, and really did play with it. Models dressed in bright bustiers and bloomers emblazoned with buttons and bows brought out all the stops on the runway, tantalizing the audience with lollipops and pocketfuls of candy, and a model on a pair of rollerskates put the cherry (or strawberry, as was the theme) on top of the whole experience. And though the attitude completely turned 180 degrees, the line of Toxic Vision left us equally energized with some expert work with leather, fringe, and studs. We still can’t get one dichotomously sweet and surly leather jacket, half pale purple and half jet black, out of our minds.
As the closer, the mere appearance of Dianna DiNoble‘s name across the back wall drew the most cheers of the night. The audience clearly held a few fans of her signature corsets, which transitioned flawlessly from subtle, to sexy, to secretary, to stunner. Our favourite, and the crowd’s too, was a leather and silk gown, crafted to expose hints of the full wire skirt beneath the deep red fabric. With the model’s white-blonde hair, she exuded the essence of From Hell, but with none of the pain or torture.
With FAT officially at an end, there was no hint of a whisper. It was all bang, and mostly bang-on.
Photos by Remi Carreiro/Torontoist.