Mass Exodus

Ryerson students get report cards at Mass Exodus

Two weeks ago, I compared the unofficial start of Toronto's fashion week to a new school year. Well since then, a bunch of fashion happened, and graduation was upon us - for Ryerson students at least. It's only fitting that as one season of fashion closes in Toronto, a new crop of "designers" are born and unleashed, en masse, into the wild.

There were 20 students who made the cut to show at last night's Mass Exodus, the Ryerson student fashion show (an unofficial convocation, if you will), curated by Elizabeth Cabral, Flare magazine's fashion director. (Please, did you think they'd make us suffer through just any PVC whim or lace desire?) Each student showed five looks from their final thesis project, each with hopes of stirring some sort of buzz à la risk-taking Amanda Lew Kee or always-on-point Heidi Ackerman.

Yes, all of it was good (it has to be if you've made it this far), but not all of it was noteworthy. So I've chosen the 10 designers worth saying anything about and giving them a warm welcome to Toronto fashion; it's time for your report cards. To everyone else, I'll grade you out in the wild.

Kathryn Bennett

Kathryn Bennett, Line: Caged In
Voted: Most likely to end up designing at Stratford - or for the Murdoch Mysteries
Comments: A costume collection showing a tremendous skill for tailoring and vision. At first glance, the whole thing is fit for a modern retelling of Streisand's Funny Girl (if directed by Tim Burton), and features classic construction and strong attention to historical details like the cage crinolines, polished cotton and, we're told, undergarments to keep it all in place. Excellent.
Final Grade: A+

Joshua Williams

Joshua Williams, Line: Nathaniel Laux
Voted: Most likely to design an item-specific line (like coats, graphic tees)
Comments: Some great ideas here, but the execution and the fits left everything to be desired. Williams says he was inspired by coal miners and Japanese dress. I see noveau-blacksmith aprons and safari vests. The saving grace is the beautifully-made fishtail parka and the Alex Wang-inspired scoop neck tee. Satisfactory.
Final Grade: C+

Lindsay Spindler

Lindsay Spindler, Line: Marigold
Voted: Most likely to design the Fly Girl looks for an In Living Color reboot
Comments: Spindler wants to design a lingerie line, but she's too shy to say she hopes women will still wear it outside the bedroom. They won't. The line is sexy and simple, with shapewear that will give a great silhouette - and that's what makes it good underwear. But unless it's on former So You Think You Can Dance gals doing the running man, that dog won't hunt in daylight. Good.
Final Grade: B+

Jimin Lee

Jimin Lee
Voted: Most likely to become a stylist
Comments: Not insinuating anything here, but I'm sure these neon accents appeared on the runway last week. Luckily, it was the work of a good stylist, like I believe Lee to probably be. Beyond the wrap skirt and drop-crotch pants, the rest of it would be better paired, in pieces, with other things. Especially with a sheer tank in the line-up, I wish Lee had done the it-trend from LGFW: nipples. Good.
Final Grade: B-

Alexander Abramenko

Alexander Abramenko
Voted: Most likely to audition for Project Runway Canada, if it comes back
Comments: In the program, Abramenko described his offering in two sentences, without actually saying anything about the clothing or inspiration. That's evident. Lack of cohesion and strong silhouettes, though, is made up for with superb outerwear, probably his strongest foray. Satisfactory.
Final Grade: C+

John Hillifer

John Hillifer, Line: J. Hillifer
Voted: Most likely to be poached by The Fashion Collective
Comments: My notes said, "same shit, different pile," but only because I'm already betrothed to Sid Neigum. The clothes aren't designed for "real men," but they would look so good wearing them. Not much variety or distinction, but Hillifer wanted to do an "experiment in deconstruction," with textured fabrics and layers and unfinished seams - in one solid colour, for five solid looks. Excellent.
Final Grade: A

Pamela Card, Line: Pam Card
Voted: Most likely to move to London, England before she gets noticed here
Comments: Card knows the kind of career she wants, and the kind of customer she wants to design for. Blends '90s "It-girl" silhouettes (shoulders, high-waists) with today's cuts, fabrics and textures like leather and jersey. Showed the most range, with five different legs: a mini, leather leggings, full-length skirt, pant and shorts. Excellent.
Final Grade: A-

Diana Baba

Diana Baba
Voted: Most likely to show at Alternative Fashion Week
Comments: She's got a long way to go, but the foundation is definitely here. Plus, someone's been listening to my tweets: Pleated leather shorts for the win. The sheer, leather-patch tank top that goes with it is also perfectly androgynous. Sequin crop top aside, I'm looking forward to an entire collection. Good.
Final Grade: B

Andrew Kerrigan

Andrew Kerrigan, Line: The Good Boy
Voted: Most likely to go the way of Dmitri Chris (and his spring/summer 2011 collection)
Comments: From the words of my seatmate: "Burberry meets A&F." I'm guessing she was just focusing on the one trench, which is Kerrigan's strongest piece. Guys aren't really wearing sleeveless hoodie/tank hybrids, and most commercial retailers are producing everything else seen here. Nevertheless, any new menswear designer gets my approval. Satisfactory.
Final Grade: B-

Eric Tong

Eric Tong, Line: Subsume
Voted: Most likely to design for Le Chateau, or at least move to Montreal
Comments: Probably the most innovative of the bunch, Tong experiments with materials like PVC and unconventional construction not seen among his peers. Plus, his leather shouldered "cage" top is pretty awesome. Some pieces look better in person; others will look better only in editorial. Good.
Final Grade: B+

Photos by Dennis Marciniak

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