Creativity and artistry, beautifully intertwined, making love to one another with the pulse of the crowd’s “Oh’s and awh’s” cheers and applause, that was the synergy at Toronto Alternative Fashion Week.
I had the opportunity to mix with the visionaries of tomorrow, work backstage with a costume genius, and I got face to face with Toronto’s Nina Arsenault.
“Sexy KKK”, Christabel Couture
The Distillery District has never felt this cool, it was the “It”, and Toronto’s art scene was unleashed. All the elements that collaborated to make it FAT, stimulated all the senses, it was sexy, avant-garde, with a bit of naughty and nice.
This year Vanja Vasic, Creative Director, decided to divvy up the event, “The focus this time is on a sense of space and surrounding. It is about awareness with a sense of being from all over the world.”
DJ Femme Normale kicked then night off with narly beats over tight verses, a perfect canvas for Day 1: Home, where the audience was fed a taste of vintage inspired collection and the exploration of feminine wiles in a more domesticated setting. Diepo’s lingerie screamed, “Take me right, here right now, but you better bring the champagne, ‘cause, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” If it were financially possible, I could see Eartha Kitt singing C’est Si Bon!
Day 2, paid homage to Earth Day with Planet, where the theme was sustainable fashion and style. The evening was spearheaded by DJ Daniel Wilson, as ready to wear collections were showcased by Anika and the Paper People Clothing. It was all about the positive direction that fashion is going and the choices that we could make to save the planet, one responsibly dyed bamboo tee at a time.
Gutter came with absolute precision. Arline Malakian’s Black on Black was film noir for the 21st Century as it made your imagination run. This evening showcased the rawness of street fashion, mixed with hot and a touch of alternative with Und and further talents like Youth in Asia and Kristy McKenzie. Beats provided by DJ Daniel Wilson and added musical stylings by Curtis Santiago and former eTalk host Anna Cyzon.
Backstage with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum
By the final night, the word was out there for sure. The Distillery District hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in three days. By the first fashion show case, the place was jiving to a different groove. The energy seemed heightened and people were moving faster.
Yes, this is a man in frilly panties and me painting him red!
I was back stage playing right hand woman to Chris Cunningham of Christabel Couture. Looking at his rack of costumes, it still seemed like there was still so much that had to get done. 17 models to dress, 2 models to be covered in body paint from head to toe, one topless model whose nipples had to be diamond cutters when she hit the runway, and the fact that we were crazy enough to put model Biko on a dolly wearing a mermaid outfit, absolutely fucking priceless!
Chris Cunningham and I
Cunningham, was the last designer to show, but it still did not seem like enough time, maybe if I choose to use less body paint to smear across my models hairy tummy, I would have got to blowing up balloons much faster for Cunningham’s bubble skirts. But all the models were dressed, the nipple bra was dawned on male model number 3, and the stiletto boots were already broken in by male model number 4.
La piece de resistance was Nina Arsenault. Enter stage left and speechless was the crowd, as perfect as one can get after a $150 thousand dollar extreme sex change, inside and out, swapping out the motor investment. Dressed as the hottest marionette that I have ever seen, in a one piecer that did not leave much to the imagination; except for probably the most obvious, paired with a hoop skirt, literally. She had straight men yelling her name, confirming Arsenault’s comment in a previous interview that all the men that she was with did not know that she was once a man.
Grand Finale, Nina Arsenault
I asked Arsenault post all the adoration from fans, what she thought of her outfit, she said, “I love what I wearing.” Clearly Arsenault could have been anyone’s tada finale, but Arsenault trusts Cunningham, “I believe in him as an artist…Chris has a very particular vision that has motifs that run through his work, like the morphing of the body and highly structural things…hard forms and soft. And a lot of surrealism.”
Having just participated in Toronto LG Fashion Week, Arsenault compares the experience and says, “LG Fashion Week is so glamourous because Canadian celebrities show up and it is such a produced event, but the I also love Toronto Alternative Fashion Week because the clothes are a lot edgier…they do not have to have the same mass marketing.”
With regards to Toronto Alternative Fashion Week, Arsenault believes in what the event is achieving and what is will do for Canadian fashion, “FAT’s new, people are just checking it out and the media is just trying to grasp on it…when people see what’s coming down the runway it will be taken more and more seriously. I think it’s going to be an event like Fashion Cares where over ten years it just grew so much until it was a cultural phenomenon.”
From the collagen injected mouth of the Nina Arsenault, “If you didn’t attend FAT you missed out on really edgy fashion.”
I’m all the way in the Manitoba for a summer of fun. My first adventure out in Winnipeg city was a rap concert. I have a weakness for rap, all of it. The good, the bad, the white, the black I want it all. This may also have to do with the fact that I think gangsters are hot. So let me begin, Classified is hot.
Me and my dear friend made our way to The Pyramid around 10:30 to get our rap on. Three of our other friends missed out on the occasion because Ticketmaster said it was sold out, and The Pyramid said they would not be selling any more tickets at the door. ALL LIES. The crowd was not full and they were selling tickets at the door. So lame. We got over missing our friends, and ordered a drink at the bar to begin to set the tone.
A Winnipeg local rap duo named Dead Indians took to the stage to pump us up. Unfortunately they didn’t. So we just waited around in anticipation for the real deal. A young man took to the stage next. Looking fresh in his white tall tee and LA hat. I say yay it’s Classified. My friend is convinced it’s not him. I’m mezmorised by his rap and dance hard to who I think is Classified. PHYSC it was Jake Boyd, Classified’s younger brother. Ahh yeah he set the tone for the night. The crowd really enjoyed him and everyone’s hand was up in the air! GANGSTA STYLE. After one more opening act Classified took to the stage. He raped for more than an hour. I’m impressed, my friend’s impressed, the crowds impressed. He brought the house down. He is evidently a skilled veteran with 11 albums under his belt. His most recent album, Self Explanatory is his first Major Label release put out with the support of Sony BMG. His new song, Is Anybody Listening?, is all over the radio in Winnipeg and I sang along line for line when he finally busted out his new hit single.
The crowd’s energy was high and Classified brought us even higher, literally and metaphorically. The glow from weed was thick in the air and Classified passed around a joint and swigged a couple beers. We were all celebrating his first Friday in Winnipeg together. The concert was a success and now I’m a bigger fan. But that doesn’t mean that the concert was easy to survive. Here is what you need to know if you plan to hit up any of his shows in Ontario or the East Coast.
Tip One: Smoke weed everyday (the whole crowd was high, you might as well join in.)
Tip Two: Keep your eyes closed (the crowd was a group of people that I would never want to be caught dead hanging out with. I’m talking about boys in Billabong clothes, boys in backwards Billabong hats, girls in Billabong clothes, girls in frontwards Billabong hats. I wasn’t impressed. And standing around with all the biggest losers that you never talked to in high school is enough to make you kick someone. Here’s the truth I ended up kicking someone.)
Tip Three: Know the national anthem (Classified performed a remix version of Oh Canada. Gotta love Canadian pride)
Tip Four: Make out (People jumped on stage, crowd surfed and acted rowdy. But as soon as two girls got up on stage, the boys started wanting female on female make-out. This is so lame, and makes me want Classified to grow up. )
All in all I enjoyed myself. And will continue to pretend that i’m a rap superstar diva until i’m too old to keep pretending. I think Classified could be huge in the Canadian rap scene, but he REALLY REALLy needs to get a new type of fan. They were bad enough to make me not want to go to another Classified show.
I am a seasoned veteran at partying. People are amazed with my party skills. I will typically hit up the pre-drink party, the actual party, and the after party. Maybe throw in a couple of other parties in between. Who knows? I go wherever the night takes me.
I attribute my party stamina to the consumption of vodka redbulls. They are also highly correlated with my erratic behaviour at the bar and also with my wicked hangovers experienced the next day. Headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, all symptoms of a great night out. But is it really worth it? Sometimes no, but usually yes.
Me with Drink
Here in Ottawa, we’re fortunate enough to have a bunch of great weekly to monthly residencies, from Rock & Roll Pizza Party, to Disorganised, to Electric Ballroom and Grind. There’s always a temptation or an excuse to go out and fraternize with a drink or four in hand knowing full well that I have to work first thing the next morning.
Me with Drink
Typically I will wake up and curse my throbbing brain and then blame it on the vodka redbulls. I’m pretty certain most of my friends have eliminated me from their facebook minifeeds because I “status-whine” about whatever stage of hangover I’m experiencing. (First world problems, I know!)
Me with Drink
With so much overtime put in on the hangover clock, I’ve decided to share some of my secrets to “Surviving the Hangover – Weekend Edition”
1. Don’t drink vodka redbulls.
2. If you do consume vodka redbulls, don’t drink more than 1. Its just trouble/batshit craziness waiting to happen.
3. Have a giant glass of water and extra strength Advil set out on your night table for immediate consumption the next morning.
4. Try not to spend all your cash while out on the town. You may need it to order a greasy pizza to nurse the hangover the next day. Rock & Roll Pizza Party. In Bed.
5. Don’t deny yourself of a little catnap here or there. Sleep the pain away.
6.Sloth life. Adopt it.
Me with Drink
And if you’re a weekday 9-5er like myself and are easily tempted by patios, and dancing and fun and etc on weeknight, then here’s some tips for “Surviving the Hangover – Weekday Edition”.
1. Set your alarm clock before you go out. I usually set it an hour before I actually have to get up. Snooze button will work wonders. Try not to abuse it too much though.
2. Pray to god that work will miraculously disappear. If the gods fail you, you better hope that Mother Nature has taken care of business via an ice storm or tornado or something disastrous like that.
3. If work still exists, take a shower. Depending on what kind of night you had, there’s a chance you reek of booze.
5. Pack a brown bag lunch. Lots of fruits and stuff to get some of the vitamins and nutrients you probably canceled out the night before. Wikipedia also recommends packing a bacon sandwich. Wikipedia is always right.
6. Try to look busy at work. People will tend to leave you alone if you “look” occupied.
Me with Drink
As I get older, the hangovers seem to get worse. Yeah, I know I was bragging about being a veteran earlier, but truth be told, I’m still a rookie when it comes to the hangover. Take these pointers as you will, but know that the only way to truly avoid a hangover is to fully abstain from alcohol.
Catch you on the flip side. The stomach flip side.
If Thursday night’s show at The Phoenix was any indicator, then Thunderheist definitely knows how to party.The rain didn’t stop the Toronto electro-rap duo’s legions of fans from descending on the Sherbourne St. hotspot that night.In fact, the soaked clothing and the potential hair frizz one could get from the rain were well worth it. We are talking about Thunderheist, after all.
By the time Isis and Grahm Zilla came on around 11 p.m. headlining the 17th anniversary Exclaim! tour, the crowd of mainly 20-somethings were already pumped up thanks to locally grown Dougie Boom and Halifax’s Scratch Bastid. Isis and Zilla immediately picked up where Scratch Bastid left off, igniting the crowd’s energy even further with such hits as “Nothing 2 Step 2”, “Space Cowboy” and “Do the Right Thing” off their long-awaited self-titled debut album. Over the next hour, Thunderheist rammed that excitement even further up their fans’ throats.And boy, did we want it.
The last time I saw Thunderheist live was at the Drake Hotel’s fifth anniversary party back in February. Sure, Thunderheist was great then, however the April 30th performance kicked their performance credibility up a notch. By the time Isis -who looked fabulous I might add in her sequined mini – belted out the opening lines to “Jerk It”, calling fans up onto stage with Zilla and her, the crowd was writhing in pleasure, so much so that bouncers had to throw some people off. All in all, the night was a hit. While some critiques have panned Thunderheist’s album for lacking emotion, emotion was the name of the game that night. It fueled the crowd. And added to the belief that Thunderheist’s follow-up album should be recorded live.
Midnight rolled around faster that anyone in the crowd could have imagined. There’s no doubt Isis and Zilla were thankful as the concert’s closure could mean some much-needed rest before they hit Halifax’s The Paragon May 2. The alcohol-infused crowd, on the other hand, was left wanting more.
By: Lorianna De Giorgio
I, Claudia, the one-woman play starring playwright Kristen Thomson, which made its debut in 2001 at Tarragon Theatre and was later adapted into film in 2004, successfully made its return onstage last night. It opened at the Young Centre presented by Crows Theatre in the historic Distillery District to a packed audience. I had the privilege of attending this marvelous night and I thought that I’d bring my bff, along with me to capture and share this magical experience, which is exactly what it was.
Last night’s opening was such a treat, which was the word I kept repeating all night to truly express how appreciative I was to have had the chance to see this extraordinary play back onstage with its original cast; consisting of 4 characters all performed by the same woman who, by the way, is photographed with me below.
I, Claudia depicts the life of a 12 year-old tween and her struggles with being unpopular in school, her parents untimely divorce, an overdue science project and, brace yourselves, PEE-YEWberty. Kristen uses expressive, commedia dell arte-esque masks to tap into the lives of these dynamic and deep individuals.
I was introduced to this play and film in my performing arts highschool a few years ago (wink) and it quickly became one of my faves. The story has a way of touching people of every race, age, sexual orientation or gender. It hits close to home with its raw, unforgiving accounts of the vulnerable life experiences we all tend to normalize as we age. My bff and I both had tears rolling down our cheeks by the end of the performance.
The play is ‘high-larious’ly funny yet poignant. Kristen received a roaring, standing ovation that lasted longer than any I’ve participated in or witnessed. It’s truly amazing to see that this production still buzzing years later.
Kristen reprises the title role in her 2001 playwriting debut from April 30th until May 23rd at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts at 55 Mill Street, Building 49, in the Distillery District.
P.S.: There was a reception after the show and they served an array of delicious…well, treats. I couldn’t resist.
There’s one thing that I walked away thinking while watching the Adele show, it was that she is the most soulful, authentic and genuine artist that I’ve seen in a while. She’s more real than the thuggish group of kids standing on Young and Dundas drinking straight out of a 2L Coke and eating a patty with cocoa bread. She came on stage blushing and obviously taken back by the always classy Massey Hall and the massive turn out for her 3rd show in Toronto. When she entered on stage dressed in her pajama top (yes pajama top) and black Tights the crowd could not contain themselves. You wouldn’t think that Adele won two Grammys just because she is still humbled by her fans. When she got going with her hits and covers such as: Best For Last, Bob Dylan‘s “Make You My Love “ and Sam Cooke‘s “That’s it, I Quit , I’m Moving On” the crowd got into an indescribable groove. Massey Hall is known for it’s recliner cushioned seats, so unfortunately nobody wanted to get up to get down with Adele but everyone was tapping their feet intensely. When she left the stage the crowd screamed for more and she came back out doing a new song and her ever popular, highly critically acclaimed Chasing Pavement. Adele kept saying that she could not dance so she stood still but that did not stop her from doing this cute sway over the shoulder dance. Adele’s concert as a whole was a light caress and I love it because I’ve grown accustom to the rough stuff.
Thunderheist WHUD UP. Hearing Thunderheist in our offices is like hearing downtown Toronto drivers honking; ITS CONSTANT AND LOUD. Heck yes we are fans of this dynamic duo, but now a days who isn’t? They are taking over the world and duh that’s a really great thing!
Usually the only reason people tune into MTV is to watch The Hills. STOP IT. Tune into MTV for something WAY BETTER. This Wednesday April 29th, Thunderheist will be on MTV LIVE. Fill your brain with something worth your time! And when MTV LIVE leaves you wanting more, which it will, then head down to The Phoenix Thursday April 30th to catch their concert in full swing. I mean we once had 5 minutes in heaven with Isis, and trust us it’s something everyone should experience.
After seeing their television faces on MTV LIVE, and after you feel their sweat drip on your body at Exclaim’s Tour at The Phoenix, go home and watch The Wrestler. Why you’re asking? Well let me tell you why! THUNDERHEIST’S SONG JERK IT ACCOMPANIES MY MAIN MAN MICKEY ROURKE ON THE BIG SCREEN.
Make it or Break it Thunderheist? They don’t just make shit, they INVENT IT!
I fear I may be experiencing concert overload – I know, how can that even be possible? But after seeing Kings Of Leon last night and how bored I got at times during the show, I think that is the case.
To be honest, it might have to do with where the show was held: the Air Canada Centre is just too big for these southern rockers, in my opinion. They sounded fantastic, Caleb Followill’s voice resounded through the arena clearly and the audience was very enthusiastic but there was just something missing. This is the kind of band you’d want to see in an intimate venue. Maybe the fact that I was too far away to admire their prettiness had something to do with it too.
But let’s talk about the actual show, shall we? When I walked in, The Walkmen were already on – not that anyone cared these guys were playing, as most of the audience was busy getting drunk and they were just a background noise.
For all those fans who hate on their latest, super popular album Only By The Night, and who miss their long hair days when they weren’t known for a little song with the lyrics “head while I’m driving” – I’m sure they were quite pleased to hear so many oldies. After opening up the show with one new song “Crawl”, they immediately launched into a bunch of older tunes including “Molly’s Chambers” and “California Waiting” from their debut album Youth & Young Manhood as well “Taper Jean Girl” from Aha Shake Heartbreak and “My Party” from Because Of The Times.
Of course, when they played “Sex On Fire”, everyone was singing along. For me, one of the highlights was hearing “Milk” live as well as “Knocked Up” during the encore – one of their best songs in my opinion, there’s just something amazing about the way that song builds up. Overall, it was a good show, and it’s great to see that the band is still playing lots of old songs, even though a big part of the crowd would probably rather hear the new album in its entirety.
(psych. It’s totally made in the normal factory way)
Here I am at the Holt Renfrew Launch of House Of Harlow Jewelry line by Nicole Richie.
WHAT WAS GOOD?
They had some interesting ways of selling the jewelry, like getting you to actually buy the stuff. There was a wall of lollipops with numbers on them. If you bought some HOH and grabbed a lollipop, then you could get a Holt Renfrew priz. I didn’t, but I ate that loli to death. Prize enough for me.
It was way more lively than the Fashion Week Launch. Like 10 times more. A lot more smiling faces, and younger people and just general packed-ness.
WHAT SUCKED THE BIG ONE?
Uh twenty minute lineups for beer and wine and mojito’s. This just in, maybe not the best idea to make mojito’s when you have a bazillion people who want free booze.
The actual Jewelry was laid out in these big tables that were kinda a free for all and they had mini-computers set up where you could order more online. I was diggin’ on the idea, but whoever planned out the floor map must have forgot about the user experience, cause those tables were right in the walkways making it impossible to get through the crowds and move around comfortably AND you could barely see what was there if you weren’t in the first row.
Oh hell, I’m just gonna say it: it’s not good enough for Holt’s!!!
Holt’s hunny, you are the keeper of my all my best Christmas memories from childhood. The first time the Chanel Makeup counter lady made me cry because she didn’t think I had any money to spend. The first time I got bitchy with the Dior girl (a year after Chanel-lady taught me my lesson) when I had saved up all my babysitting money to buy my mother a velvet leopard-print makeup bag to put under the tree. And all the years after when I purposely dressed like an unemployed slob to pick up subsequent gifts for family members and screw with the clerks. It was this obstacle course of sass that made me want to buy the over-priced designer duds that only you carry.
I lusted after the white (and now even more obnoxiously amazing pink) bags to carry down the street in my torn jeans and teenage hair.
Has it really come to this? You’re selling Ardene baubles fit for the Dufferin mall? All because they are attached to a celebrity who is famous for being famously the daughter of someone famous and having kids with someone famous?
Damn you recession! With excess you have taken away class AND now, taste!
(honourable mentions: bad overdone hair coupled with orange makeup on 20-something boringistas, and well-preserved older women dressing far too young for their age).
I must say that I was very excited to do this interview because of my personal love of vintage fashion. Like a blind date, Diepo and I met at a coffee house (it begins with “Star”). I ordered and peaked around the corner to check out the creative masterminds behind this line that I am anxious to see later this evening. There they were, Justine Diener and Kristin Poon, both sweetly dressed in let’s welcome spring now attires.
This is the second time Diepo will be showing at Toronto Alternative Fashion Week. Last year they did a total of ten outfits with a 1920’s inspiration behind each piece. Plenty of silks, with more relaxed silhouettes, with references to garters and shape wear, spearheaded the collection. There were also some tailored pieces à la Diener, such as smoking jackets, that juxtaposed the underwear as outerwear mantra that Diepo holds true to.
Without giving too much away, Poon reveals to me that this year at FAT, they will revive the 1950’s with a more masculine palette with navy and browns, consistent through the collection. Expect to see their signature mix of lingerie, but do not be intimidated. Diener reassures that because the lingerie is vintage inspired, they are more modest, “Like an understated sense of sexiness…there are no thongs!”
When asked about their love for vintage, Diener admits that it has always been vintage for her and that she has never seen herself as a modern girl and has always been the type to romanticize the past. Poon adds, “This era was a very defining moment for fashion and the reason why it is never forgotten.” Indeed! Machinery evolved, the roaring 20’s, World War II, and because of that, women were finding their place in society.
Diepo was conceived by Diener and Poon while studying Fashion at Ryerson. The true belief that sharing means learning is what brought the two together. Diener explains that while in school, the competition is fierce and “People are at arm’s length of each other, because whatever you are working on is this big secret.” But it was not like that with Diener and Poon at all. According to Diener, “When you’re starting out, it’s hard to put your ideas out there unless you’re a very particular kind of person and I think neither one of us are. I really love the stuff that Kristin does and I found one of the hardest things in couture is the competitive aspect.”
According to the dynamic duo, another struggle as an up and coming designer is the support that Torontonians have towards their local fashion, or rather, the lack there of. It is the choice consumers have to make; whether or not they want to pay more for their garments. “The hardest,” Diener says, “Is the mass production places like H&M. It’s a force to be reckoned with. It’s just impossible to produce pieces for the price that they do.”
So what does Diepo see for the future? “We’re kind of still dipping out toes in,” they say. Poon and Diener are enjoying full creative control and hope to begin producing and selling their pieces. Retail success is something they hope to achieve, but the women agree that when the time is right it will come. Poon explains that they are not the type to, “Just put things out there”, if the piece is not ready; leading to her advice to other designers trying to make it, “Don’t get ahead of yourself; and keep people who are honest close.” Diener adds, “You have to have people around you who are constructive, otherwise you’re doomed!”
BY: KIM CUACHON