Mass Exodus 2017 hits the mark and then some

All photos by Morgan Bocknek.

Another school year has ended, and so another cohort of fashion students have presented their capstone work at Mass Exodus. This year, it was an impressively professional display of a deep understanding of the current conversations happening in the industry.

Organized by third-year fashion communication and upper-year creative industries students in the coveted fashion promotion class, the first-ever Mass Exodus Fashion Week was a smash hit. Three daytime shows presented the capstone collections of 47 fashion design students, while an invite-only evening show—curated by Byron and Dexter Peart, co-founders of WANT Les Essentiels—showcased the top collections. As this year’s producer, third-year fashion communication student Krizia Peluso explained in her opening remarks that for the first time in decades, the runway shows were moved off-site to Daniels Spectrum, a modular community art and event space near Regent Park.

This year’s collections exhibited exceptional technical skill, eye for detail and knowledge of industry trends. From bell sleeves and embroidery to conscious consumerism and size diversity, this year’s graduating class of designers was ahead of every trend. It was refreshing to see the next generation of designers present a diverse selection of models, as the size, age, race, gender and ability of fashion models has become an increasingly hot topic in the fashion industry as diversity in all media inches toward becoming the norm.

Though there were many memorable collections, three seemed ahead of the rest. Nicole Dice’s collection of corset-laced, fishnet clad, fairy-world Victorian outfits stunned with intricate beading and flowers. Nicola Place’s collection of hand-dyed dance costumes, featuring models in pointe shoes that twirled at the end of the runway. Ekaterina Kuzheleva’s sporty jackets and tailored menswear featured 3D-printed details sewn onto the fabric.

The class also organized a display with the majority of graduating fashion communication capstone projects in the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Tuesday. Then, sixteen projects were curated by three industry jurors and displayed in the lobby at the main event on Saturday. Though it discluded many notable projects, this system ensured the top projects were seen by all attendees of the main fashion show (an issue which had remained unsolved in past years).

Noteworthy projects from the fashion communication students included Antidote, a consumer-conscious, feminist zine presented with reader-friendly graphic and layout design.

Fashion student projects that didn’t fit the standard Mass Exodus showcase mould were on display at other locations throughout the week, including an interactive teenage witch’s bedroom (The Teen Witch) by Katherine Zawadski at Artscape Youngplace.

Due to the limited venue capacity, only a few lucky ticket-holders including friends, family, professors, media and industry invitees were able to see the runway shows up close. In a partnership with RTA students, Mass Exodus was livestreamed online and recorded through 360 video. Students from the theatre production program in the School of Performance collaborated with FMAV, an audiovisual company, to bring to life the fashion promotion students’ vision of the runway, as well as to build displays for the communication students’ work.

The fashion promotion course has been changing annually in recent years, as the first cohorts of creative industries join the class. Previously, it was a class of 30-40 third year fashion communication students who chose between this course or two credits in typography, and were admitted through a lottery system. Creative industries students in the fashion module this year and last year had the option of selecting the course from a similarly limited list of other options. However, the next cohort of creative industries students will no longer have this option, as Folio’s contributing writer Anna-Maria Stavridis will explore further this week.

From fall’s outstanding mini-show, SPLICE, to the generous $1 million donation from Suzanne Rogers, it has been an impressive year for the School of Fashion and its students. Yesterday’s year-end finale cemented School of Fashion as an educational forerunner in the fashion industry.