The best of [FAT]: We recap Toronto’s Arts & Fashion Week with the 5 talents we predict will be making waves

The Best of FAT Fall 2013
The Best of FAT Fall 2013
A glittering look from YDNA. Photography by Jason Hargrove.

Is it just me, or are we all still recovering from the whirlwind that is fashion month? From constantly refreshing the home pages of my favorite fashion sites to trekking down to the tents of David Pecaut Square for Toronto’s own collections, it seems that this so-called “month” is years long! Before we close our books on the Fall 2013 collections season, there is one more week to get excited about in Toronto–that is of course–[FAT] Arts & Fashion Week which took place last week in a beautiful warehouse in the up-and-coming arts neighborhood off Sterling Road in the west end.

Industry insiders, fashion fans and fellow designers all piled in to check out the burgeoning talent coming out of Toronto, Montreal and new partners Focus Mexico in a week-long extravaganza of runway shows, photography exhibits (Toronto ex-pat Hannah Sider‘s portraits were stand out), art installations, live performances and fashion films (a particular favorite from the always incredible Diego Armand at Perfecto Magazine)

Founder Vanja Vasic first put together an alternative fashion week while a student in Ryerson University’s Fashion Design program. I remember attending one of the first presentations, as my big sis happened to be showing alongside Vasic and her fellow students. The evening was a haphazard collection of musical performances, runway shows and modern dance–needless to say, FAT has come a long way since then.

Attending shows at Arts & Fashion Week reminds me why I love fashion. Vasic and her colleagues have created an incredible platform for unknown designers to present their collections in front of the fashion community, media outlets and supporters. I’ll admit to getting a bit misty-eyed as a group of high-school and first-year university students presented their designs as part of PACT Fashion, an organization founded by Make Den owner Irene Stickney which gives under-privileged youths practical skills and creative outlets. It’s organizations like PACT that make FAT what it is today–a community of creative minds working together to make fashion and design accessible to those who otherwise are forced to sit on the sidelines.

Here’s a look at some of my favorite collections from the week.

FAT YDNA Fall 2013
Photography by Jason Hargrove

Y.D.N.A.

Allow me a moment of being equal parts supportive but also critical when I say that FAT can be an exercise in keeping a steady stone-face when some of the more severely, ahem, alternative collections (often involving modern dance) make their way down the runway. So when a forward-thinking collection such as Montreal based Andy Nguyen‘s Fall 2013 Y.D.N.A collection makes its way down the runway, it’s a bit of a wearable relief. Nguyen executes an impressive comprehension of fabrication, from the sheer plastic paneling on his peek-a-boo garments, to his controlled and stylish mix of leather, chiffon, cotton and wool. As models strut their way down the runway, wearing Japanese-style headwear, a quick spin would send a rush of glitter out into the crowd, eliciting yelps of glee and rounds of applause from the awe-struck audience.

FAT Masha Fall 2013
Photography by Jason Hargrove

Masha

Masha, Masha, Masha! What would Tim Gunn say if he were to see a designer send an all-black collection down the catwalks of Project Runway? Well, Mr. Gunn might have had to keep his comments to himself as Masha Ruginets definitely knows how to make monochrome work. Dress after dress made its way down the runway, each a variation on fabrication, form and style. An incredible floor length stretch-latex gown, adorned with long, cross-bearing chains was surprisingly chic and glamorous and swayed like the ocean with every step. A latex, under-boob baring top id paired with floor-length chiffon and an incredible, sweeping body chain for a seriously sexy yet surprisingly chic look that would be perfect on the carpet of next year’s MMVAs. Ruginets may be best known for her more street-stye appropriate online offerings, but if this runway show is anything to go by, she’s got a hell of a lot more than tanks and tees to offer.

FAT House of Etiquette Fall 2013
Photography by Henry Quan

House of Etiquette

I know I’m not alone in having been glued to the television screen all throughout the first season of the ultra-creepy (extra-kinky) American Horror Story. So perhaps I was not alone in revealing in a salacious sense of deja vu as House of Etiquette‘s latex goodies made their way down the runway on the first night of FAT designers Ashley Davies and Matt Smart are no strangers to the FAT runways, having shown their last three collections at the alternative fashion week, and have consistently wowed the crowds and critics with the incredible fit and style of their fashion-meets-boudoir aesthetic. I never thought I’d be one to wear latex outside of the bedroom, but House of Etiquette makes this kinky material appear oh so haute. Body-con dresses, intricate lingerie and a particularly sensational bumblebee look featuring yellow high-waisted pencil skirt, bustier and sizzling full-length gloves made for an entertaining and surprisingly chic runway show.

FAT Malafacha Fall 2013
Photography by Jason Hargrove

Malafacha

Part of the Focus Mexico program which co-sponsored this season’s FAT, Malafacha brought some serious edge from down south to the runway. The seemingly unisex collection featured intricate detailing on a range of easy, comfortable cotton garments. Over-sized shirts and dresses were cinched with drawstrings, worn over layers of leggings and skirts and draped with an effortless perfection. Malafacha has a notable presence in its native Mexico, having been featured in international publications like Vogue Italia, Dazed and Confused and Harper’s Bazaar LA. It was a treat to have this incredible street wear brand show on the runways of Toronto.

FAT David Wigley Fal 2013
Photography by Jason Hargrove

Worth by David C. Wigley

David C. Wigley is no stranger to the runways of FAT, having shown his past eight collections on the alternative runway. This season, Wigley took inspiration from the prolific filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, collaborating with knitwear designer Dylan Uscher of DylaniumKnits on a series of looks inspired by the classic ‘50s silhouette of Hitchcock’s heroines, with a serious modern twist. An incredible tri-tone pantsuit brought to mind my favorite Resort 2012 Christopher Kane collection while an incredible Psycho-inspired white “blood-stained” gown that closed the show brought to mind Galliano at his very best. A seriously impressive collection from a designer who has chosen to take the path less travelled on his way to (at least as predicted by this writer) the very top.