Adventurous designs at this year’s Mass Exodus

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By Leah Jensen

Fashion aficionados from all across Toronto flocked to Maple Leaf Gardens last night to attend the Ryerson School of Fashion’s annual runway show, Mass Exodus.

This year marked the 25th anniversary for the show, which is the largest student-run fashion event in North America. Twenty fourth-year fashion design students are chosen to present their collections to an audience of hundreds.

The third-year fashion promotions class is responsible for putting on the show. Students are split into nine committees, which range from hair & make-up, to hospitality & sponsorship, to marketing & tickets. There are also five executive positions, including art director and producer. The Ryerson Theatre School and Radio and Television School of Media are also credited with helping to produce the event.

With the show being one hour and each of the twenty designers having an average of five models, there was a wide array of outfits shown. Lingerie, menswear, handbags, knitwear and extravagant frocks were among some of the categories. Before each collection, a brief video played explaining the inspiration behind the work.

Designer Yusung Kang explained her line “is a mix of Peter Pan [the story] and the Peter Pan syndrome; when an adult chooses to remain childish.” Her models wore pink party-favour crowns and had various block-coloured wigs.

The source of inspiration for each collection was rarely the same. Porcelain dolls, archival photos, pollution, ethnic traditions and ethereality were other approaches.

A unisex sportswear concept designed by Andrea Lung, titled Live To Fly, was among the more adventurous of the collections. Models walked the runway in pairs, each wearing matching ensembles. Streetlights, thermometers, rainbows and shoelaces were creatively transformed into sweat tops and all the models wore running shoes. The final outfits appeared somewhat conventional, but that was only before the audience could see the back, where a clear, plastic fan had been attached.

Overall, the show went smoothly. No technical difficulties, no model wipeouts and no nip-slips. The lighting, stage and overall setup of the event helped contribute to its success.

On the other hand, only half of the stadium was filled and before the show even started, the ushers were moving some guests in the media section to fill seats closer up. Aside from the runway show, there was an exhibit which showcased graduating fashion communications students’ final capstone projects, but this section seemed to go fairly unnoticed by the majority of attendees. Christina Esposito tweeted: “To be honest, tonight’s was slightly disappointing. Really wish they would have shown all of the designers instead of Top 20.”

Big names in the fashion industry were among those in the audience. This year’s guest curator for the show was Stacey Mackenzie, a model and runway coach who was also one of judges from Canada’s Next Top Model. Sitting in the front row was Suzanne Rogers, a Toronto-based fashion icon. Representatives from Elle Canada, Flare and numerous other fashion/lifestyle magazines were in the crowd. Also in attendance were various stylists, bloggers, buyers and fellow designers who were undoubtedly there to scout out Ryerson’s fashion design talents.

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