All Photos by James Martin

Fashion students break the seam on clothing gender norms

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By Catherine Carpenter

The room was tinted red, setting the tone for the passionate event that was about to begin. An empowering playlist elevated the excitement of the audience as they patiently anticipated what the night had in store.

Parallel is a student-run presentation, facilitated by the Fashion Event Planning course—offered through Ryerson’s School of Fashion. Students were tasked with creating a socially-driven fashion event. Course facilitator Daniel Drak, said that the 10-week process consisted of “ideating, failing, until what [the audience] saw here tonight.” 

This year’s event was held at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, on Nov. 14 and Diana Sanchez, a member of the Promotions Committee said the focus of the show was “elevating the LGBTQIA+ community, breaking the norms of clothing through self-expression and style.”

The show opened with an electrifying performance of Rihanna’s Diamonds by Sissy Nein, a local drag performer. The song encapsulated the theme of the night, which centred around dismantling the boundaries of gender constructs, sexuality, body standards, and empowering the LGBTQIA+ community.  

Following the performance, a diverse cast of models took their first steps.

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Photos taken by Justin Martin (@__fluid_)

Models were paired based on a common connection in their outfits, but walked solo down the runway exhibiting their authentic style and personality, then posing together at the end of the stage. Outfits ranged from androgynous suit wear, to elaborate fur jackets and on trend body chains. Each model’s outfit was a mode of self expression that was amplified by each unique strut down the catwalk, showcasing the diversity beyond the construct of dressing one’s body.

The closing walk consisted of the models collectively wearing t-shirts emblemed with “crushing gender roles” and “human.” This symbolic finale reinforced their socially driven theme of fashion and LGBTQIA+ empowerment.

Unlike many fashion shows, the models for Parallel were chosen based on their personalities and how they represent Toronto’s LGBTQIA+ community in their own individual ways. The regular runway rules did not apply, and the diverse cast of models were encouraged to use their own clothing as vehicle of expression, and were free to improvise their walk down the runway.

The night not only educated the audience on the LGBTQIA+ community, but also evoked a sense of empowerment within the models.

Demijah Perez said that walking in the show “was a celebration of all [she’s] accomplished over the past 5 years” during her transition. She described the event as an opportunity for rebirth, where she could finally debut the authentic version of herself.

According to Drak, the future fashion presentation will “tackle another issue, or revisit an issue, and try to go bigger, and approach from a different angle…there is going to be a conversation around it, a chance for educating about event planning but also society.”

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