By Tyler Griffin
Photos by Premila D’Sa
The Ryerson School of Fashion held its 30th annual Mass Exodus showcase—considered to be the largest student-run fashion show in the world—on April 6 at Daniels Spectrum. The event offers fourth-year fashion design students an opportunity to display their capstone collections to potential employers and industry professionals.
The final, invite-only show of the evening featured the top 15 collections, in a presentation that asked attendees to remember a time before digital technology ruled the runway.
“You’ve braved the cold, the wind, the traffic, the snow, the sleet to be here but why are you here? Is it to snap a post for instagram?” asked chair of fashion Robert Ott in his opening remarks. “Are fashion shows really relevant in a digital world?”
Ott challenged guests to turn off their devices and view student designs through the lens of their eyes rather than the lens of their cell phones.
“One of the things we’ve noticed at most fashion weeks is the audience sitting there holding a phone, trying to get just the right angle, and no one is actually looking at the garments,” said Ott. “You can look at that picture later… but the moment you see an expensive garment, that is something that is fleeting.”
Designs ranged from ready-to-wear pieces to creative bridal, presented by a diverse set of models of different size, age, gender, race and ability.
Memorable collections came from designers such as Jessica Oakes, who incorporated medieval fantasy with renaissance tunics and elf ears, and ZongZheng Yang, whose models walked in outfits inspired by traditional Japanese wear and Bowie-esque blue eyeshadow.
The final show was curated by multi-award winning hairstylist Rossa Jurenas, whose work has been featured in editorial magazines like Vanity Fair and Elle, and in collaboration with top designers like Vera Wang. Jurenas studied student designs and the inspirations behind them to make her top selections, but said seeing the collections in person made all the difference.
“For me, it was actually seeing [the designs] on the models and talking to every single fashion student and finding out their story, their inspiration, how they did it,” said Jurenas. “It was about taking in every single element that they put in for this whole year.”
One of the 15 collections shown will be selected to represent Canada at Graduate Fashion Week in London, competing against top design students from 40 programs in 22 countries around the world. The chosen designer(s) will receive round-trip tickets to London, accommodation and some extra spending money.
Celebrating Mass Exodus’ 30th anniversary, Ott said he continues “to have been surprised by what students did 30 years ago, but also by what they do today.”
“I’m looking forward to the next 30 years.”
Check out photos from the event below.