Photo by Isabel Tang

On the outside, 99 Sudbury is simply a boxy building on a residential street — unmarked and unpredictable.  It’s hard to imagine that the inside features art-filled walls, musicians jamming on a stage, a full runway, and a backstage area filled with models, makeup, and clothes.

Toronto Alternative Fashion and Arts Week (FAT) began with a number of displays. The first display I ventured into was “Pre-Loved Actions,” which featured a bare man covered in clothing, slowly weaving and unravelling himself in eerie robotic motions. Nudity was also present in one of the film productions titled “The Muse.” Here, the audience looked onto projection screens that featured a black and white film of two nude females. Through gentle caresses and dreamy angles, this controversial film had viewers questioning the fine lines between art and porn.

The fashion theme for day one was “Fashion Narratives,” where each collection was meant to tell a story.  Designers such as MARTIN LIM, Paria Lambina, Epoque, Emily Woudenberg, and Jessica Mary Clayton featured womens collections. These collections often used minimalistic designs, soft tones, and pretty florals. Some of these designs also used vintage-inspired details including Peter Pan-esque collars and A-line hems. Joy Couture also brought on an elegance with her line of flowing gowns that featured light layers along empire waists. The dresses also stood out with jewelled necklines and rich, vibrant colours.

In contrast to this modest and gentle feel came a louder and more exotic direction from DeMoyo and Lubica. These designers used bright colours and vibrant patterns for a lively change. Lubica also drew on current trends such as wide legged pants and bold stripes. Belinda Visag also had a similar style with her retro collection including padded shoulders and extravagant headbands.

Zanete Auzina began the third set of runway shows that took ready-to-wear fashion and mixed it with couture creativity. With intricate layers of frills, fur, wool, and velvet, the beauty of this collection was the difficulty in distinguishing which layer began where in the outfit.

There were also close calls that saw models stumbling but quickly recovering. And upon closer inspection, I could see models with quivering ankles and unfitted shoes.

However the real show stopper was the last model, Asphyxia, who not only strutted down the runway, but gave the audience quite a spectacle with her aerial fabric performance.  She dangled and twirled in the air using a single curtained material. Undoubtedly, this was a great way to end off the first night.