“Here’s looking at you kid.”
Humphrey Bogart’s face fills the picture as he speaks these iconic lines, while the black and white clip is played on two large projection screens above the bar at Mod Club. Bogart’s characteristically gritty voice can’t be heard over the Blue Velvet remix the DJ is pumping. The clip then transitions to a scene from another film noir classic.
The club has been transformed into a swinging, ‘40s lounge on this unseasonably cold March night for the Luminous fashion show — RyeTAGA’s last fundraiser of the year. “It’s dramatic,” says creative director Anna Avitsian, who came up with the film noir concept. “Black and white with dashes of red.” The club is dark aside from the illuminated projection screens, glowering red lights by the bar and small candles scattered on the tables. The scent of musky cologne hangs in the air, heavy like the lavish red velour curtains that envelop the stage. Behind the ruby-red lips of the curtains there is a flurry of activity backstage.
“I haven’t even done my hair yet,” says a crimson-lipped model. Stage manager Marija Dikova quickly ushers the disheveled model upstairs to finish getting ready. “Hurry!” she calls after her, as the rest of the RyeTAGA team races around to help models and put the last touches on a show that took months to prepare. For a group of students that are not from a fashion program, you wouldn’t be able to tell from their execution of their fashion fête: artistic, glamourous and just the right amount of sexy, these graphic communications management (GCM) students can throw one hell of a party.
“Most people don’t even really know what GCM is at Ryerson, which is funny because the program has been around for a super long time,” says Alina Gula, RyeTAGA fundraising director and second-year GCM student.
GCM is a print management program that focuses on technologies and business skills for the printing industry. Ryerson is the only university to offer this program in Canada, and is home to the only active TAGA chapter in the country. TAGA, the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, is the only technical association for the graphic arts in the world. The Ryerson student chapter, RyeTAGA, was founded in 2006 and is one of 15 student chapters with eight executives and over 70 general members.
“People have the impression that it’s more of a graphic design program, but it’s definitely not — it’s more of a printing program,” says Gula. “It’s a huge industry. There’s always going to be print, there’s always going to be newspapers and magazines.”
Even in the dark cave of the club, the RyeTAGA members are clearly identifiable – even without the brightly-coloured lanyards they wear around their necks. The team is easy to spot among the models and spectators as they whizz around the club, working hard up until showtime.
“This was something we started last year in hopes that if we raise enough money we’d be able to star a scholarships, or help students with research by providing materials,” says Mark Brejnik, co-president of RyeTAGA.
Starting in September, the team is responsible for assembling a technical journal to compete in TAGA’s Annual Technical Conference that takes place in March. This year, the executive team and four general members were able to attend the conference in Fort Worth, Texas and took home the Helmut Kipphan cup for the best overal journal. Brejnik says it was hard to decide which outstanding general members would be invited to the conference.
“There have been so many [members] that are always coming out to events and helping with production and just always willing to help,” says Brejnik.
Sporting a suit and tie for the event, Brejnik worked both behind the scenes and on the runway as a model. This year’s show brought in new, larger sponsors like Revlon. Based on a budget of $0, everything was either donated or borrowed. The garments were film noir-inspired, ranging from full suits and dresses to luxurious fur coats. Most of the garments were donated by student designers Krista Brown and Luan Zhang, and the suits were donated from Carbaret and Stars Men’s Shops.
Although not large, the crowd erupted loudly in cheers and applause as the models made their way down the runway. Avitsian watches the show from behind the curtain with her head poked out, smiling at a model making her way down the catwalk. Avitsian says this is only the second fashion show that RyeTAGA has organized.
“We really want to showcase the talents that GCM possesses because our program doesn’t put on a year end show,” says Avitsian. “We may be one of the only FCAD programs that has never had its own show dedicated to showcasing the talent of its students because I guess we are more business and technology focused.”
“Our students are much more than just print and package design.”
Photo by Anna Avitsian.