The atmosphere in the Fermenting Cellar in the Distillery District was something out of a zombie movie.
Women in eight-inch platform shoes wearing corsets and heavy make-up, men in masks and groups of people thrashing down the catwalk like junkie-robots. The gothic décor was Alternative Arts and Fashion Week’s founder Vanja Vasic’s idea. She wanted it to look like London at night.
“I was really inspired by London, England. I lived in London for a while and I really loved the energy of the place, the innovation and vibe,” Vasic said. “People really express themselves there. That was a big inspiration for the event.”
Toronto Alternative Arts and Fashion Week, also known as FAT, is a venue for up-and-coming designers and artists from around the world to showcase their work in fashion shows and presentations. Running from April 9 to 11, the festival showcases over 120 artists’ work. By combining visual arts, fashion, music and performance, FAT aims to redefine fashion.
“I wanted artists and designers to have an outlet where they can be really creative and expressive without being bound by what is in style and what they should be making,” Vasic said. “I wanted them to be as creative as they could be and I felt there was not a venue like that here in Toronto.”
Designers showcase collections that range from Victorian couture to country casual. FAT does not focus on spring or fall fashions like Toronto’s other fashion event, L’Oreal Fashion Week.
Former wardrobe stylist and current jewelry designer, Elizaveta Yankelovich, presented her collection of necklaces for the first time at FAT on Wednesday. Her necklaces are not your ordinary chain and pendant.
“I basically do a lot of scouring of vintage shops and used stores. I like the idea of giving old pieces that are discarded, people that threw out their junk, and I give them a new life. The objects inspire the necklaces,” Yankelovich said.
These objects include Barbie heads, combs, toy trucks and clocks. When Yankelovich was styling she felt as if there were not enough original accessories so she decided it was much easier to create them herself. She was approached by Vasic to participate in FAT and gladly accepted.
“FAT is more art related then L’Oreal Fashion Week. It is more than designer labels and clothes. It is a community of encouraging people that get together to express themselves and inspire each other,” Yankelovich said.
The three-year-old festival does not give in to the typical skinny-model image; instead Vasic and her collegues scouted the city for models that were diverse. The designers also included trained dancers who were choreographed into many of the shows.
“I wanted to make people think about fashion in new ways and how it relates to the world,” Vasic said. “This is a place where people can just go crazy and be wild and let their imaginations run free.”