Fashion Art Toronto is an arts & fashion week that celebrates contemporary art + design through runway shows, live performances, fashion films, photography exhibits and art installations. This annual multi-arts event, held every April, features 200 Canadian and International fashion designers and artists each year, and welcomes over 5,000 guests; including buyers, curators, the media, and fashion and art lovers in general.
Fashion Art Toronto 2017: Fashion Evolution unfolded at Daniels Spectrum (a newly developed cultural hub in Toronto’s downtown east neighborhood) over five days, from April 18-22. I wanted to attend the 2016 event but wasn't able to, so I was excited to win passes from She Does The City to this year's event. I had also wanted to visit Daniels Spectrum, so it was a fulfilling evening for me. In addition to the week-long event, there is an offsite exhibit showcasing a selection of fashion photography and runway moments from the past five years of Fashion Art Toronto.
The April 2017 edition of Fashion Art Toronto titled FASHION EVOLUTION, looks at key moments and circumstances in history that brought about shifts in fashion. Throughout five nights of programming, the festival explored how social, political, economical & environmental circumstances have formed trends in fashion and how technological & industrial advances have influenced fashion to change throughout history. The theme revisited fashion trends of the past, looked at fashion of today, and imagined how fashion may evolve in the future. Each night had a different focus. Tuesday: Feminized Future, Wednesday, Reflections, Thursday: Odyssey, Friday: Dystopia, Saturday: Utopia. I attended on Thursday.
I arrived between runway shows and made my way through the fashionable crowd to look at the photo and art exhibits before the next show began. I love circus and circus inspired fashion. I even took circus/aerial arts classes for a couple of years. Naturally, I enjoyed "Harlequin", Stephen M. Loban's photo exhibit. The editorial was inspired by historical Italian theatrical characters.
Justine Latour's "Au Natural" is a five look art-to-wear collection, that hopes to dispute modern day common views concerning nudity, and also highlight issues of gender inequality in current censorship laws and policies. Nudity in artwork and what is considered "decent" vs. "indecent" is an ongoing discussion. The "Free The Nipple" movement comes to mind. I'm sure we've all heard of, or know of photographers, models, or artists that have had work reported and removed, or have been banned on social media platforms due to perceived indecency.
Consisting of three-dimensional construction, print and transparency, "Au Natural" looks to exhibit the natural body in a celebratory and beautiful way, and inspire positive outlooks and opinions surrounding the female nude. From the artist statement with the piece: Before Christianity put down its roots through Europe, there was such a thing as an unadorned, unadulterated female nude. Indeed during the time of Ancient Greece, women’s bodies were not a thing of shame or disgust, but rather something that was celebrated in all of its glory. However, Christian beliefs dating back to the Old Testament have had a profound impact on the way that we think of ourselves, and our bodies. In today’s society, laws concerning decency and obscenity have made us to believe that female nakedness is sinful, ugly and evil.
KINSFOLK "Future Project " performance space. I'm disappointed I didn't get to see the performance because it sounds fascinating. KINSFOLK was established in 2015 by sisters Holly and Jackie Timpener. They create work inspired by stories and research concerning the Bearded Woman and explore their relationship as family and women. The sisters perform in beards so that they can be seen and heard clearly in their intention of dismissing societal pressures.
Padina Bondar's "XX" interprets female biology and physiology into fashion. Each dress represents the various stages of reproductive development in a woman's life, from the first period to menopause. She strives to illuminate the oppressiveness of each narrative, while also celebrating the beauty of the body and honouring agony of so many physical which women must endure.
Xue Liang Design "Liquid Baroque". This purpose of this collection is to showcase the transformation of up-cycled and unconventional materials into opulent, couture wearables. Liquid Baroque is an exploration of how far the hand can manipulate and challenge the idea of “everyday waste”, questioning how we decide what objects are beautiful and needed and the possibilities of up-cycled materials in design.
Autumn/Winter 2017 runway looks from Steven Lejambe.
Select runway collections from Fashion Art Toronto 2017 will be available for purchase following the event May 1 – 22. If only I had an unlimited clothing budget.
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Story and photos by Glodeane Brown