[FAT] is Toronto Alternative Arts and Fashion Week, happening once a year in Toronto, Canada. I heard about the event a few years ago and I have been dying to go since then. But it seemed every year, something came up and I could never make it. This Friday, April 24, I finally made it to my first [FAT] event and it was an amazing experience! [for more insight into what FAT is all about, see the Summer Festival article in the April09 issue]
I got out of work at 2pm on Friday, filled up my car with gas, stopped at the bank for some Loonies and Toonies, and hit the road. My two hour trip to Toronto was better than I had feared, no delay at the border and I didn’t get pulled over for a car search, something that always seems to happen to me, but there was some construction on the QEW and of coarse I ended up arriving in Toronto during rush hour. After the tiring drive, I met up with a friend in Toronto, the lovely Spitfire, and we rushed off to the final night of Alternative Fashion Week.
The theme of the Friday night event was “Beyond”. Happening earlier in the week was “Home”, “Planet”, and “Gutter”. Each night featured musical artists, both bands and DJs, performances, and three sets of fashion showcases, each featuring three to four fashion designers. I was sad to have missed Fashion Whore [see Valentine’s Day feature on Fashion Whore] and Salvation by Asphyxia, Magdelina, and Empire, both having shown earlier in the week, but happy that two of my favorites of this year’s designer lineup, Futurestate and Starkers! Corsetry, would both be showing in the evening ahead of me.
This year [FAT] took place at the Fermenting Centre in the Distillery District of Toronto. The Distillery District was beautiful with lots of atmosphere, all cobblestone streets and old historic looking warehouses and factory buildings. When we entered my first thought was, this was a different kind of showcase for alternative fashion than I had ever experienced. [FAT] is a genuine runway fashion show, with all the care and consideration in presentation and planning you could hope for. I’m so used to seeing fashion shows for alternative designers in cramped clubs with makeshift runways and other limitations, it was a nice change. Everything above the rafters was lit with red lights; everything below had a blue hue. Long red [FAT] banners hung from the rafters and perfectly round red balloons were tied around the space. The first fashion showcase of the night had just started and we made our way to the runway to watch. Rows of chairs lined the runway, with people standing behind, a cluster of photographers at the end, and large red [FAT] signs making up the runway entrance.
After the first showcase, we explored the whole space. There were numerous flat screens with video art and series of photos displaying on them. The bar was in one corner, the stage in another, and a “photobooth” set up in another. The most interesting part was you could simply walk behind the runway entrance to see everything that was going on behind the scenes. You could walk right up to the hair and makeup station, models were changing in corners and posing for photos, and people were rushing about to make sure the show happened as planned. It seemed very fitting for the event that you could experience the production and fashion, raw and up-close like this.
After checking out the whole space, we secured seats for the next fashion showcase. To start it off was a very well done performance, ELECTRA by Genevieve Favre Petroff. Sound, music, song, light, and a bit of humor told me a story of an honest and endearing android trying to connect to an empty world of the future. This performance set the tone for the fashion designs to follow. First up were designs by students at the Ryerson School of Fashion. Next was a pleasant surprise, a futuristic collection in the aesthetic of Dune by ErinChan.com.
Next was the highlight of my evening, Futurstate, a self-proclaimed cyber gothic industrial clothing line based out of Toronto. It was clear this segment would be a bit different, the beats turned harder, a projection of Futurstate’s logo appeared, and two frequent Futurstate models, Mike Santaguida and Brittnee M emerged to set the tone carrying Futurstate flags, then out walked Futurstate’s newest collection. The collection was sleek, sophisticated, futuristic, and primarily black with pewter or black heavy matte pvc details, reflective piping, and corset style lacing. All the staple pieces of any Futurstate collection were there, a shrug, a pvc vest, and arm warmers. A nice new addition was a short, lightweight, short-sleeved dress perfect for summer. For the last couple years Futurstate has been releasing very strong lines and this one was no different. It is so nice to see an alternative designer releasing distinct seasonal collections. [see the collection in the spring fashion editorial in the April09 issue]
Skinny Puppy’s “Dig It” came up in the speakers and it was clear things were not going to let up, next was Starkers! Corsetry. Starkers! is a custom corset designer also based out of Toronto. First out were two steampunk style outfits, both with beautiful, deep brownish brass colored corsets. A series of three mad scientist sci-fi horror ensembles wrapped up the collection. The first of the series was an all white asylum patient, next was an all black bride of Frankenstein, and lastly was the mad scientist with a fuming beaker and a men’s white corset modeled by Toronto photographer Zaiden. The highlight of the corsets presented was defiantly the men’s corset mixed with pinstriped vest. It was a mix of beautiful corsets, creative costumes, and entertaining performances.
The last fashion segment contained some notable designers that were also new to me. Mathew Donnelly’s collection featured structured monochrome outfits. The first one out blew me away, a grey jumpsuit perfect for a desert cyberpunk film with pants that incorporated right into stack platform boots. The last designer to close out the night and [FAT] week was Christabel Couture. The tone for this collection was set with a very humorous video. To follow was a mix of fashion and art that I’m not going to even try to describe, you’ll just have to look at the photos and see the website, and discover it for yourself.
I left [FAT] giddy and exhilarated. I’m so glad I went and I’ve already decided that I will make a whole week trip to Toronto next year so I won’t miss any of it.
For more photos check out [FAT]’s Flickr photostream.