By Noora Sobhani
On April 9, models strutted the runway for the 34th Mass Exodus exhibition, displaying final collections created by graduating students from Ryerson’s fashion design and communication program.
This year, the annual event took place at the the Sheldon and Tracy Levy Student Learning Centre (SLC).
Fashion students were not the only ones involved in this extravagant event; creative industries students and others taking the Fashion Live Event Planning super course (FCD 817) aided in coordinating the event. Professional music students provided a soundtrack for the models to walk to, while graphic communications management students updated the Mass Exodus logo and oversaw graphics used to promote the event and website.
The graduates displayed their takes on this year’s theme, ‘metamorphosis,’ drawing from concepts including the life cycle of the butterfly and how metamorphosis can be perceived in the context of humanity. According to the Mass Exodus website, the event aimed to represent “coming into oneself.”
Federica Di Frassineto, a second-year creative industries student, was one of the coordinators of Mass Exodus and said students met in groups to create a cohesive theme. Ultimately, they took inspiration from the biblical Garden of Eden and the evolution of butterflies.
Metamorphosis is derived from the Greek words ‘meta,’ to change, and ‘morphe,’ which means form.
The death of old notions, the birth of new ideas and the transformation of society were all presented through the designed garments with insect-like masks, materials that resembled decomposing leaves, feminine menswear and bright, lively colours.
The Knob & Tube collection designed by fourth-year fashion design student Nathaniel Doody consisted of many tubes, jumpsuits and inflatable materials attached to the outside of the garments.
Doody said the tubes represented the movement of liquid identities and expressions, mirroring the fluidity of gender and sexuality.
The collection had mechanical robot resemblances, and each model walked with an electrical box, suggesting the model needed electricity to function. Doody compared the fluidity of self-expression to the fluidity of electricity coursing through a wire, hence the robotic visuals.
Doody mentioned on the Mass Exodus website that becoming confident in his technical skill set has also allowed his work to “exist in a diverse range of mediums and materials.”
Fourth-year fashion student, Kim Borel Bouffo Tchamou displayed a different take on transformation, drawing inspiration from the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected women and women’s employment. According to StatsCanada, women accounted for nearly 54 per cent of the pandemic employment losses on average. Tchamou’s Fatalie Resurgence collection was filled with women-identifying models walking the runway in elegant dresses, bold colours and intricate ruching.
Tchamou’s collection represented the resurgence and power of women in the workforce, signifying that it is time for women to reassert themselves now that the isolation has ceased.
He acknowledged that the fashion design program has allowed him to explore the limitless possibilities of fashion.
“Every year, I was able to improve by seeking the guidance of my professors, as well as taking the risks of realizing design concepts that I would have never imagined to work.”
In contrast, The Divine Masculine collection, designed by fourth-year fashion design student Alexandra Kent, represented the consistent challenge of masculinity in the fashion industry, and how the feminization of menswear is becoming increasingly mainstream. Kent embraced the roots of men’s fashion by creating a collection of suits.
“I deconstructed traditional menswear style lines into unique garments that men can wear to express themselves in original and positive ways while still keeping traditional tailored menswear alive,” she said.
While many fashion designers shared a similar pride in their final finished products, it was equally satisfying for the visual coordinators, who worked to pull the diverse collections into a succinct theme.
Ella Steele, who is in her first year of fashion communication, was the visual coordinator of Intro, an exhibition for upper-year fashion communication and fashion design students run during the same date.
“The show was executed flawlessly,” she said. “The theme of metamorphosis and its relation to butterflies and regrowth was very inspiring and fitting, considering the current state of the world and humanity as a whole.”
New ideas based on classical ideas