Inside the Design Exchange gala: A vogue off, a fashion protest and more turn up this year’s event

Design Exchange Gala 2014
Design Exchange Gala 2014
Photography by Ryan Emberley

See the Design Exchange party photos »

The fierce factor was turned up to 11 at Toronto’s Design Exchange last Friday for DX Intersection, the museum’s annual fundraising bash. This year, the theme of the party was “Rise Up,” celebrating creative activism in the fashion and beauty worlds. The vibe of the night was mock protest, with hand-painted signs throughout the space that read “Free Your Mind” and “Art is What You Can Get Away With” spearheaded by cheeky London-based line Rodnik. Some partygoers even customized their own jackets with slogans like “Make Love Not Warhol” and “Meat Is Murder” scrawled on the back of a fur coat.

The party really blew up when two troops of dancers took to a runway for a vogue off. With one team from New York and another from Canada, they battled it out for trophies for “Best Face,” “Best Runway” and more. Like the dancers’ outfits, the competition was tight but in the end it was team Canada that was declared the winner. After the battle, a coterie of the party’s most fabulous—including DX president Shauna Levy and the night’s creative director Rui Amaral—had the chance to showcase their own vogue-worthy moves on the runway to ’90s dance beats by DJ Diego Armand.

This year, the gala honoured M.A.C Cosmetics co-founder Frank Toskan for his extensive work raising money for the M.A.C AIDS Fund. In addition to the more than $325 million that has been raised since 1994, Toskan also worked hard to change attitudes towards the disease, particularly with the Viva Glam campaign. “We weren’t in business just to make money,” Toskan told me over the phone back in August when I spoke with him for a story in FASHION’s November issue. “We were always set on moving the world forward, making changes wherever we could.” Considering it was only 20 years ago that the company had to fight to use campaign images of RuPaul in some of the department stores that carried M.A.C, we’d say he’s definitely changed the world for the better.