This year, Arts & Fashion Week Toronto (|FAT|) directors selected a set of competing concepts as the week’s overarching focus – exhibiting the notions of ‘INfashion/UNfashion’ via a number of sub-themes. These titles “reflect opposing values, visions and expressions around fashion and art. INFASHION refers to that which is in vogue and on trend. UNFASHION refers to sources of influence beyond trends such as art, culture, industry, nature, politics, religion, society…” (Fashion Art Toronto). Throughout the week, show-goers witnessed the juxtaposition of Earth/Industry, Grit/Glamour, Masculine/Feminine, Cult/Culture, and Minimal/Extreme. Held at the Daniels Spectrum, a newly renovated cultural hub in the city’s Downtown East neighbourhood of Regent Park, the week’s events provided acknowledgement and support for the revitalization of the local community.
|FAT| directors also chose to stay local with their selection of this year’s focus city – Montreal. While past festivals have seen global locales of Berlin and Mexico City take centre stage, |FAT| supported one of Canada’s own for the 2014 festival. As a result of “the cancellation of Montreal Fashion Week this season, |FAT| [gave] an inspiring line-up of ten artists and designers a platform to promote their work” (Fashion Art Toronto) including talented WMCFW Toronto alum Brit Wacher.
One of the strongest series of the week was undoubtedly found in the face off between masculine and feminine, which offered up nine runway shows, two short films, and one modern dance solo, through which to interpret of the evening’s sub-focus. The Day 3 lineup featured an awe-inspiring set of designers including Benji WZW who has seen the likes of Lady Gaga sporting his yellow biker jacket during a television interview. It is little wonder the wildly successful pop star looked to Benji for style inspiration. The recent graduate of Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts is amazingly talented. At |FAT|, he showcased his Fall/Winter 2014 collection titled FALL IN LOVE WITH MACHINERY, where leather, heavily embellished sunglasses, and explicit language were the norm.
On the opposite side of the gender spectrum, Christine Youn and Jung Min Oh‘s designs for Porte were unquestionably feminine, featuring a cream colour palette, ruffles, sheer fabrics, intricate embellishments, unique textures, crop tops, and bridal inspiration. The Porte Spring/Summer 2014 look reflected the shift from winter to spring “from the colorless and jagged lines of the cold to the soft and colorful world of flowers” (Fashion Art Toronto).
Closing out the week, eight runway shows and one performance art piece provided a mix of minimal and extreme in their designs and presentation styles, with sets mimicking the feelings of trench warfare from House of Shields, a peppy city subway train from Poplyn, and a wild and colourful lingerie strip show from Candydrip. Day 5’s final presentation came in the form of Uta P. Bekaia’s performance art piece, Duality. The perfect choice for the week’s final runway event, Bekaia’s deeply inspiring and intricate costumes, influenced by nature and the human.