Wednesday, June 22, 2016 / 7 p.m.
1313 Queen Street West, Toronto
Even with a runway the Annual Fantasy Fashion Show at Gallery 1313 felt more like a contemporary art event with wearable art works. The night started later than programmed, but after a false start, an extra long intermission, and substitute MCs, we witnessed the beautiful works of eight designers: LIDIJA, Stephanie Yiu, Mary Dyja, Candida Girling, Mitra Ghavamian, Ashley Bullock, Kassandra Coleman and Justine Latour.
For the four works by LIDIJA, butterflies were adopted as a metaphor as well as an influence for the flowing, elegant materials. Silver acrylic diamonds adorn the collection titled “Transformation” to represent the strength of a woman. Stephanie Yiu’s four-piece collection, “S.B.L.,” is about wastefulness. Yiu upcycled used materials to make fabric by heating and pressing white plastic bags together and assembled them into haute couture designs. Mary Dyja’s works are more than soft, comforting yarn accessories; they are wearable sculptures that conform to the body through the weight of grains. Rampant burning of fossil fuels in the great Canadian North informed the style of Candida Girling’s regal, flashy work “Petrochemical Feminine Moose-tique.”
In the back courtyard at Gallery 1313 artists Lisa Anita Wegner and Paula John participate in a duet performance “Folie a Deux.” The two women sit behind bars bearing ‘hysterical’ signs, sewing at a communal table and wearing medical gowns. Not only did this performance reference the historical treatment of women labeled as hysterics, it also addressed the traditional female duty of sewing and was well suited to the theme of the event.
Mitra Ghavamian’s dress “Young River” was paraded as a performance down the runway. The model, wearing a headdress and a denim dress the length of the room that was carried by a suited and steampunk goggled assistant. Inspired by yarn bombing street art, Ashley Bullock’s four-piece collection, “Fear of Madness,” was hand crocheted from vibrant and furry yarn composing all aspects of the outfits from head to shoe. Kassandra Coleman’s collection of ‘underwater apparel’ titled “KassieTastic” hold a nostalgic place in the hearts of any person who ever wanted to be a mermaid adorned with beads and tassels. Finally, Justine Latour’s two works, “Au Natural,” contest gender biased censorship laws by adopting angular, architectural structures to both accentuate soft female curves and appear to be uncomfortable confinement.
The artworks were designed primarily with the female form in mind, but the designs represent an amazingly wide range of themes and forms ranging from environmentally friendly to personal experience, and from angular to cozy. The event, held in Gallery 1313, was transformed from performance to fashion show with the help of DJ Steintology, and then to an after party at the Cadillac Lounge.