All photos credited to Jonathan Liang.
There’s a lot going on in Toronto aside from the glacial temperatures.
Trading my snow boots for heels, on February 26, I checked out UFashion’s annual show and Black and White Party. For anyone interested in clothes or just looking for a fun night out, the event was not to be missed.
“It’s kind of turned into our annual event,” says Nancy Yu, Co-President of UFashion. “It’s the event to look forward to every year and… something that we all just work towards for the year.”
UFashion is a U of T organization made up of students passionate about style. They organize a variety of events and initiatives, but the fashion show is the focal point of their year.
“This will be my fourth year to see the show, [and] it changes every year with the different team,” says Inna Bershtadt, Co-President of UFashion. “I think the intention is always to bring students together through fashion.”
The show was hosted at Fiction, a swanky club in the entertainment district. Guests dressed to the nines (in black and white, of course) were invited to lounge on couches around the multi-level space, while models walked through the crowd on an unconventional runway. The lighting was classy, the music was great, and the designs were totally gorgeous.
“It’s a much bigger scale than in the past, which is really exciting,” Bershtadt adds.
The line-up featured a variety of casual and dressy outfits for both men and women. Highlights included Over the Rainbow, a Yorkville denim boutique that features a variety of name-brand styles, and Original Penguin, a cabana-inspired menswear line that was a welcome change from the snowsuits we’ve been seeing on Toronto streets.
Impressively, two of the designers featured in the show also had U of T connections. Feroce is an online store founded by student Michelle Nguyen, featured brightly-coloured dresses and going-out wear. Cabaret Vesture, run by students Hakeem Baja and Parham Chinikar, showed off a variety of cool t-shirts and sweaters.
“A lot of students spend a lot of their time on campus, [and] don’t explore the city as much as maybe they’d like to,” says Sophie Wolpert, explaining the idea behind this year’s line-up. Wolpert is a Co-Events-Coordinator for UFashion. “This way,” she adds, “we kind of bring what the city has to offer, fashion-wise, to [the students].”
“We’re kind of taking away the whole ‘exclusive’ kind of thing that’s associated with fashion shows,” says Tania Lodi, Co-Events-Coordinator at UFashion. “Anyone can come to this and it’s going [to] charity.”
The show has always been for a charitable cause. This year, UFashion partnered with Students for Wishes—a U of T organization linked to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to whom the show’s proceeds will be going. This year, UFashion also did a special collaboration with the University College Literary and Athletic Society (UCLit), who organized a club night/after-party at the same venue.
When asked about why they love fashion, the club members had a lot to say.
“Growing up I loved shopping, and that’s [what] sparked my interest in clothes,” explains Yu. “I know there’s a really fine distinction between shopping and what fashion really is, and I feel like now, I’m more interested in the design aspect of fashion, and [the art behind it].”
“[Fashion is] necessary expression, because you have to be wearing it every day,” says Galit Greenberg, one of UFashion’s blogger interns. “I also really like the consumer side of it, and how people kind of connect with their clothes—what does each item mean to them, and their wardrobe overall: what does it say to them, how does it make them feel?”
Fashion show coverage, photos, and a full listing of featured designers will be posted on UFashion’s blog (which can be found at http://ufashiontoronto.blogspot.ca/). When events aren’t going on, bloggers like Greenberg keep the site updated with the latest trends.
UFashion’s Facebook page is also heavily active. In fact, weeks before the show, they were publishing profiles of the models featured, so that the audience could get to know them a little better before they saw them at the show. I was ecstatic to see the variety of individuals walking down the runway: both male and female models, of all body types, backgrounds, and personalities.
“We didn’t just pick our models by looks,” Wolpert says. “A lot of it is personality, and they have the confidence, and we kind of wanted to show them off, because they’re a really fun group of people.”
UFashion’s show was classy, entertaining, and extremely good-natured: you didn’t have to be a fashion “snob” (or even remotely style-centred) to have a good time. This, combined with the club atmosphere of the Black and White after-party, definitely made it a night to remember.
All photos credited to Jonathan Liang.