The second night of VALT continued the journey of futures from Utopia to Dystopia, a bleak and anarchist nightmare world full of human suffering without respite. The swashbuckling Aaron Morris, VALT Model Coordinator and Event Host, guided the audience through this show of darkness with a jovial wink. This Dystopia doesn’t seem so bad! At first, that is.
Shiverz Designs is a local online business that specializes in designing fanciful accessories to decorate a woman’s head, including fascinators, hats, masquerade masks, jewelry, and feather hair clips. It created an equally ornate collection of ensembles to coordinate with their accessories for the VALT runway, each one representing a different character. There was the flirty burlesque dancer, the lady on the town, the femme fatale, and the elegant lady of the garden, to name a few. Fantastical.
A.D Clothing and Costume Design strives to push the boundaries of outerwear, creating costume jackets, vests, and pants to make a woman feel strong and empowered. Inspired by the insanity and darkest feelings we hold locked up inside ourselves, the models hobbled down the runway in a state of mental mania, bound and restricted by the strappings of their attire. The jackets represented a high fashion interpretation of the classic straitjacket and could almost be worn to the office….that is if you want to send a strong message to your boss! Polished insanity.
The Art Institute of Vancouver graduate Jillian Gray chose to showcase her graduating collection for VALT, entitled “Slave to the Rhythm,” referring to the Grace Jones album with the same name. Jones was the inspiration behind her designs with her iconic and androgynous presence. The overall aesthetic and simple lines of Gray’s pieces struck very close to my heart. I loved the monochromatic colours and strong lines, with the edginess and interest in the use of contrasting fabrics. The masculine leather interplayed seamlessly with the softer feminine chiffon. I would buy the entire collection if I could! Amazing.
Oculto Steam Masks
Shay Lhea is the mastermind behind Oculto Steam Masks. She strives to elevate the traditional notion of masks as being merely accessories to full-on disguises that enable the wearer to take on a different persona. Each luxury piece of wearable art is given an elaborate character profile meant to help breathe life into them. She designed and constructed a new collection specifically for VALT and the results were conceivably the most mature and honed evolution of her vision.
The models in uniform black business attire strutted down the runway while wielding a weapon specific to their character, ranging from an axe to brass knuckles. They were given free reign to use their weapons to simulate acts of violence – they threatened the audience, slit their own throats, and slammed the baton on the runway. The menace was all the more effective by the fact that the audience couldn’t see the models’ faces, but instead were face to face with an emotionless visage. Darkly disturbing in a good way.
The fashion runway sets were interspersed with another magnetic dance performance by the House of Barnes x Celinski Productions, and the moody pseudo pop music of The Pink Pearl Dragon from Toronto, a return act from the debut VALT. The world of Dystopia was twisted and tormented, and that has never felt so good.
Words + Photos by Aurora Chan