Ryerson turns heads at Toronto Women’s Fashion Week

From left to right: Dani Keko-Aranilla, Dominique Williams, Nadia Ebrahim, Krizia Peluso, Vanessa Smikle and Emma Lewis. Photo: Che Rosales (@cherosalesphoto) at Toronto Women’s Fashion Week (TW).

Ryerson’s school of fashion showed up to show out this year at Toronto Women’s Fashion Week (TW), putting on Canada’s only student-directed fashion show ever.

Oct. 2 marked a day of high anticipation at the school of fashion. Inside a dimly-lit warehouse on Yonge Street, industry professionals, administrative faculty and Rye alumni turned their heads to the runway: a path awaiting a harmonious assembly of the university’s most revered designs. In a metaphorical “passing of the torch,” the show — organized and produced by six current students — featured a mixed collection of pieces designed by recent graduates.

Following Ryerson’s Mass Exodus, the annual fashion presentation that showcases the designs of the fashion program’s graduating class, they got to work. The group of students, including Krizia Peluso, Nadia Ebrahim, Dominique Williams, Vanessa Smikle, Dani Keko-Aranilla and Emma Lewis, began pulling the show together back in May. The runway show’s selection of highly-regarded garments, previously shown in Mass Exodus, made an example of Toronto’s best up-and-coming designers straight out of Ryerson University.

We wanted to put [both] our talent and Ryerson fashion on the map

The industrial setting paired with colourful spotlights highlighted the downtown atmosphere from which each design was conceived. The uniqueness and standout feature of the show was the blending of the collections: a powerful transaction of creativity and ideas. Perhaps more astonishing than the show going off without a hitch was that the varying background of each piece didn’t throw off the cohesion of the presentation. From tailored denim dresses to soft bright-red knits, the kaleidoscope showcase came together to create one beautiful image of Ryerson fashion.

Designs from left to right: Da Thao Chu (entire look), Millie Yates (dress) and Adrian Arnieri (coat). Photo: Che Rosales (@cherosalesphoto) at Toronto Women’s Fashion Week (TW).

Dominique Williams, the art director, credits the smoothness of the evening to her partnership with her student counterparts Ebrahim, Peluso and Lewis.

“I worked closely with the co-producers…to form and carve out the creative vision for the show and [I] was involved in several areas to ensure the aesthetic was maintained and cohesive,” she said.

Vanessa Smikle, director of operations, said the purpose of combining the collections was to emphasize Ryerson’s values of heritage, diversity and innovation. In pairing with TW, the production team decided to create a show composed of contrasting pieces as a way to display them in a new creative light.

The fact that the production team was entirely female made the show’s success all the more important, subverting a male-dominated fashion industry and sending a powerful message. Ebrahim, the co-producer, believes this was long overdue.

“We wanted to put [both] our talent and Ryerson fashion on the map. We have other big schools that participate in their local fashion week,” she said. “It is about time we had our own thing, too.”