Sunday, September 29, 2013

Past Behaviour - The Art of Fashion Design Competition 2013

On Friday, September 27th, I was invited to attend the "VIP Cocktail Reception" for the 2013 Art of Fashion Design Competition.  I had attended this event, and blogged about it last year, and was quite happy to attend this year.  The design theme this year was "Past Behaviour", so the nine finalists in the competition incorporated a reference to styles from past decades.

The event was held at 99 Sudbury Street, in Toronto, so I took the afternoon off work, grabbed a Greyhound Bus and found myself on Queen Street West by 5:30 pm.  With about an hour to spare, I did a quick stop at Kind Exchange, where I picked up a pair of red butterfly earrings for $3, and at Original, a candy-coloured explosion of gorgeous shoes, cheerfully fun accessories and clothing perfect for your next fetish party/drag show/feel like dressin' up evening.   I had decided on a scarf with a bow for my hair, but after eye-balling the impressing assortment of fascinators at Original, plans changed.  With no time left for dinner, I was off to mingle with the Fashion crowd.

I think it's a good omen when the first person you meet at an event is someone you would love to hang out with.  Artist and Teacher Beckie Di Leo had her easel set up just inside the main door, and she was doing quick watercolours of some of the designer's models, and stylish attendees.  She offered to do a sketch of me later in the evening.
Above is one of Di Leo's sketches from earlier in the evening.  Di Leo has done her "live painting" at many fashion related events and she has perfected the art of capturing the essence of someone's style with a few strokes of her brush.  You can read more about Beckie Di Leo and her art on her website.

One of the sponsors of the evening was Minskaya Vodka, and there was a display just inside the door where you could try a shot, served by pretty girls in orange dresses.  I'm no Vodka expert, and I thought it was perfectly fine as far as Vodka goes, but I prefer mine mixed with something.

 The Designers....

Each of the nine finalists in the competition had an exhibit of their designs, with one of their designs  featured in the fashion show later in the evening. The emerging Canadian designers were competing for two awards: Most Promising Designer (decided by industry panel of judges) and Best Exhibit (voted on by the public). You can read more about this year's designers on the Art of Fashion website here.

In a collection inspired by the Arthurian Legends, designer Katelyn Bowland (right)  featured simply-cut, flowing dresses embellished with bold metal chest pieces.

I loved this metal necklace/belt that would look amazing worn over everything from an evening gown to a t-shirt.

Andrea Dineen's (right) collection was inspired by the curvy, ultra-feminine shapes of the 1950's.

Her exhibit was very elegant, and she had even created a couple of small wool felt hats that paired beautifully with the dresses.

Elena Sanjikhaeva, originally from Siberia, Russia (on the right), is inspired by the designs of Coco Chanel, and created a collection targeted at well-educated, professional women in their 30's - 50's.  Her clothing was nicely tailored, with elegant details and unusual necklines that drew the eye up to the wearer's face.

I would definitely wear this grey vest with the face-framing collar

Designer Christine Youn (left) and judge Laura-Jean Bernhardson, CEO and Founder of Fresh Collective

One of the designs from Christine Youn's collection which was titled "Soaring Skies".  Youn's collection was a nod to the the flapper silhouette of the 1920's.

Diana Li's (centre in black and white) collection, sponsored by Danier Leather, combined the textures of leather and silk.  Li hand cut the leather into intricate shapes, celebrating the arts of lacemaking and embroidery but using leather instead of a needle and thread.

The single men's collection in the competition was designed by Rani Kim.  Titled "Mon-Fri", Kim wanted to create clothing that was "fashion forward and creative, but that also incorporated the classic tailoring techniques and masculine styles of the 1950's". 

Kim, on the runway with one of her models during the fashion show

Designer Jung Min Oh's black, white and grey creations also referenced the 1950's.  Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the designer.  Her dresses and blouses had very simple, elegant fronts with deeply cut backs.

Carissa McCaig's collection was titled "Clovers and Blush", and featured pretty dresses in soft pastels. McCaig has had her own clothing line, Copious Fashions, since 2010.

Alysia Myette's collection was a riot of colour and pattern.  My favourite piece was the long pink coat with the split stand up collar.   Her collection, titled "Asian Persuasion", referenced Orientalism through the use of traditional Japanese fabrics and Asian style cut of the jackets.

One of Myette's other designs in the Fashion Show

The Crowd....

This young man, whose name is Brandon, and I caught each other's eyes and had a lovely chat, which lead to a photo.  I was impressed that he had hand sewn the satin onto the lapels of his velvet jacket himself.  I'm wearing the feather fascinator I purchased an hour before arriving at the event.  The big white rectangle hanging around my neck says "Media" on the other side.  I don't know what Brandon's badge said.
This delightful woman came up and admired my outfit, which led to a conversation.  She told me her name, and I should have written it down, because of course, I can't remember it.  I'm standing by the excuse that I was getting over a cold, and had downed two drinks on an empty stomach.

 Bart Simpson rules

There were some very interesting men in attendance, one being Grant McRuer, the man in the photo above.  Grant, a graduate of the NSCAD Jewellery Design and Metal Smithing program, creates very creepy cool jewellery which you can see here.

McRuer made the red resin baby head belt buckle (trying saying that fast three times) he was wearing, which was definitely a conversation starter.  It's very difficult to get a shot of someone's belt buckle and not look like you are photographing their crotch.  Grant was nice enough to let me try.

I also met Sean Snyder (whom I wish I would have photographed, as he was looking very dapper in a well cut suit and red tie), the founder and president of Trend Trunk, another sponsor of the evening.  Trend Trunk provides the opportunity to sell things from your closet, or shop the closets of other people.  It was easy to create an account on the site, and all you do is upload photos of the items you want to sell, along with a description.  When an item sells, Trend Trunk emails you a trackable, prepaid, printable shipping label that you attach to the package, so you don't have to worry about figuring out shipping costs.  When the item is received by the purchaser, Trend Trunk deposits 80% of the purchase price in your account.  It sounds easy enough, so I think I'll give it a try and let you know how it goes.

This young woman with the gorgeous smile and golden mane had the good fortune to be standing right under a beam of light that turned her hair into a miniature sun.  She is Aisha Chacha, owner of Chacha Cosmetics.

Although conforming to the unofficial dress code of black, black and more black that seemed to rule the evening, this stylish couple stood out because of their hair, and details like the plaid shirt, and fur embellishment on the shoulder of her leather dress.  The gentleman is with Spellbound Hair Design, a sponsor of the event.

Sharp-dressed man

Another outfit that stood out amongst the sea of suits and little black dresses

The best suit of the evening, no contest....

By the time I was getting ready to leave to catch my bus home, the runway had been taken over by pretty young things who were using it as a seating area where they could check their phones.

The previously mentioned Beckie Di Leo watercolour of yours truly - I love it!

Many thanks to the Art of Fashion and 4 1/2 Inch PR for the invitation!


  1. What a fabulous event - you're a bona fide member of the fashion crowd yourself now, Shelley!
    You look great, that last-minute fascinator is the perfect touch, and I love Beckie's painting of you, she's captured that insouciant tilt of your head beautifully.
    I am very impressed by the Arthurian jewellery pieces, I'm drawn to the 50s-inspired clothes although they seem less original, and I think the black/pink cut out leather collection is stunning.
    So many beautiful people and stylish outfits, though more colour and/or print would be good - well done, the man in the tartan suit for bucking the trend!
    As always, your photos do justice to these events, it looks like you had a great time. xxxxx

  2. wouuauu, pretty fabulous event, vodka, fashion and fun!!, such interesting shows and cool people!!, and you look really stylish wearing your edgy outfit and delightful 'last minute' headpiece!, fabulous!!

  3. What a great post, I love Di Leo's illustration and your hair flower is brilliant! That body armour is stunning! xxx

  4. There is so much teeming creativity shown here- and a creative team- all sorts pulling together and re-thinking and re-sorting fashion. I love it- best of all the man in the plaid suit- he's a stand out of colorful character and originality.

  5. Fabulous Fabulous Fabulous--thanks so much for sharing this with everyone!! I love the designs- such fresh takes on the past.
    Your new facinator was PERFECT for you!!
    And the watercolor is just stunning--she really captured "you"

  6. I'm just so blown away by all of these designers and all of their creations. I have to say my favorite was the black and brown gown in the Soaring Skies collection. The painting of you kicks ass too, that gal captured you!

  7. What an amazing event! I'm loving that metal belt/necklace thingy and could totally see you in that pink coat!
    I would have been all over that vodka.......mmmmmm
    Beckie is bloody talented, but it really is an overwhelming array of talent all up! XXX