By Natacha Janjic
On April 1, the Ryerson School of Fashion put on the 27th annual Mass Exodus. The momentous event — known as the largest student-run fashion show in the world — attracted current Ryerson students, fashionistas and industry professionals alike. Comprised of two parts, The Exhibit and The Runway, Mass Exodus occurred at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.. Approximately 2,000 attendees went to the overall show.
Third-year students were behind the scenes, in charge of rebranding Mass Exodus to make the show unique from past years. Henry Navarro, a school of fashion faculty member, taught the production class where third-years learned to organize Mass Exodus.
“We operate under three guiding principles: diversity, heritage, and innovation,” said Navarro. This year, Mass Exodus’ theme leaned towards the heritage side, focusing on “remnants of past futures.”
Jaclyn Lipkowitz, one of 57 graduating fashion communication students featured at Mass Exodus, said creating her fourth-year piece was exhausting but “all worth it in the end.”
Lipkowitz and others’ yearlong project was comprised of a research paper, iterative design, and according to Lipkowitz, the formulation of their ideation cost the average student $1,000-2,000. She said the investment and project “is what you’re going to bring to a job interview. It will pay off.” Beatriz Juarez, a school of fashion professor and capstone mentor said the “best reward” is that her students are already the center of industry chatter.
Pieces by individual fashion communication and design students were sold in The Showroom, the new e-commerce app letting fashion enthusiasts buy the garments and artwork of Ryerson students. The Showroom featured pieces from both the fashion design collections and fashion communication capstones available for purchase. In his opening speech, Robert Ott the fashion school’s chair, said that for years people would approach him after the show to inquire on where they could buy the students’ work. This principle inspired the birth of Mass Exodus’ new direction.
The Exhibit stood at the entrance The Runway, a small change that made a large impact for the fashion communication students this year. Pieces ranged from photography, films, magazines, garments to fine art. The exhibition included the work of 57 graduating fashion communication students. The new layout let guests walk through The Exhibit before The Runway, a detour that fourth-year fashion communication student Ilanit Kamenetsky said “[gave students] this great opportunity to network with professionals.”
The Runway was dedicated to displaying 62 final collections of fourth-year fashion design students who made five looks each. Collections ranged in theme, including slow fashion, wearable art, children’s clothing, ethical production, costume artistry and more. The show lasted around two hours.
Although the first runway show features all collections of Mass Exodus designers, The Curated Runway show afterwards is often viewed as the event’s main attraction.
Jeanne Beker, Fashion Television host, author, journalist, and overall industry veteran, was Mass Exodus’ runway curator this year. On her involvement, Navarro said, “It created a lot of expectations both in terms of the production quality, but also the quality of the students’ work.” However, Robert Ott said because of her involvement and continual support of Ryerson over the years, “it was natural for her to take the turn.” From the 62 collections, Jeanne picked 17 collections she felt had the most “unique stories.”
One after another, collections by Bjanka Djuric, Szeyan Wong, Jacqueline Tong, Stephanie Small, Daniel Finlan and Warren Scott, Fayann Huang, Annabel Fleming, Siuman Ho, Barbara Basar, Jeesun Ania Lee, Mariam Jatta, Hawke Hwang, Olivia Rubens, Wesley Burness, Lincole Tsui, Hamish Thwaites, and Stephanie Moscall-Varey took a second trip down the runway.
Fourth-year fashion design student Jacqueline Tong, designer of JACQ, says she was excited about being picked personally by Jeanne Beker.
“I’m surprised and I’m shocked at the same time,” said Tong.
Thoroughly impressed by the collections this year, Beker urged all fashion students at Mass Exodus to stay involved and ambitious to excel in the fashion industry.
“At the end of the day, you can be as brilliantly creative as you want to be,” said Beker. “But, unless you really put yourself out there and show the world what you have to offer you’re just going to be living in your closet for the rest of your life.”