Fashion Art Toronto show ss18, day 2, Disconnect, In the intermission before the last segment of the show I was, as usually, working on BTS shots, when I noticed a model practicing a routine with hula hoop lined with nails facing inward. That caught my attention. We went through a few poses for the show BTS report for the show. In a few minutes, as it turns out, I was chatting to Scarlet Black, one of Canada’s leading performers working with fire, objects and, of course, a model. (https://scarlet-black.com)
I was impressed how dedicated she was to Amplify Apparel, how much warmth I sensed in her voice when she mentioned designer’s name (Allie Wood), and how concentrated she was on working on her character in the show. Yes, character- MANIA… as it turns out it was not your regular show, as there is never “your regular” with Amplify Apparel and Allie Wood.
No ordinary show starts with a model performing a dramatic dance on a bed of nails in the middle of the runway and no ordinary show has a script, and sequence of outfits is usually just a sequence of carefully curated and well-coordinated outfits. Not if you are watching Disorder on runway at Fashion Art Toronto!
Unlike anything else, Allie’s runway show was more than a fashion show, a masterfully created performance where every piece of clothing was reflecting a character: DEPRESSION, SELF, PARANOIA, MANIA, ANGER, ISOLATION, OBSESSION, DISSOSCIATION, SELF-HARM, INSECURITY, CONFIDENCE, SELF-AWARENESS, SHADOW . As you can see from the way the characters correlate – the SELF is on a painful path tormented by the other characters and – luckily overcomes the demons.
The concept of the show , no matter how eye catching visually did call for some questions, and Allie Wood, the designer herself, was generous enough to offer her perspective:
Collection: DISORDER Amplify Apparel SS18
“I’ve been struggling with mental health issues for most of my life. There were many ups and downs but I managed to push through it. This collection is a representation of my struggles with these issues including substance abuse, self harm and suicidal ideation. I wanted to put together a presentation to say that these issues can effect anyone, but that it can get better.
This collection was extremely emotional for me to create and present. Putting my personal experiences out into the world in that way was a challenge, but I know it was necessary. While you are going through everything you may not see the light at the end of tunnel.
Last year Chester Bennington of Linkin Park took his life. While curating this presentation I made a point to include his music in the show in memory of everything that he had given the world and the raw passion through which he expressed himself.
Having Borderline Personality Disorder does not define me as a person, but it does make me want to share a message of hope and change to those who are struggling. We lose so many individuals to suicide and addiction. I feel that if I can reach just one person and show them that things can be different, that’s a start on ending the stigma and starting the right conversations.”Allie Wood Amplify Apparel
It was impossible not to notice that the show was an incredible experience for models, or I ‘d rather call them performers. In my mind it could be either very stressful or extremely liberating considering what was going on the runway. I spoke to Faery, whose character was SELF-AWARENESS who was showing one of the striking dresses, about the experience of modeling for Amplify Apparel:
“What is it like to model for Amplify Apparel?
It’s like the most intense roller coaster you could ever imagine.
Can we talk about this years collection? It sparked perhaps one of the longest posts I’ve written to date. Allie left everything on the runway. Poured her soul exposed herself in a way very few would ever have the strength or courage to do.
I’ve been saying this since before the show…. in my decades of modeling experience…. I have never once been nervous. That night. All of the butterflies. This show, this collection, that night was important. Justice had to be done to properly represent our characters. Allie had come to us and asked which character we associated with. In a way this added to the intense desire to bring everything to the stage. We were exposing ourselves along with her. It needed to be done right.
Behind stage watching the individual performances the intensity building the welling of emotion bubbling over inside…. my internal monologue was don’t cry Faery don’t cry… my character Self Awareness was light…. and release… but I think in that second it became clear that whatever felt right was right.
We all have our struggles, our journeys are all different… the last few have been particularly rough in my world and the ones that I love…. i lost a little of myself here and there…. and lost a little passion.
Walking out on stage…. the audience lost their minds…. and I felt at home. I knew what I had to do. It was real. There was no faking it. The emotion raw… the cracks in the musicians voice and intensity heartfelt.
So what’s it like to walk for amplify apparel?Faery
Such a dramatic show also offers a great opportunity for both self expression and technical skills for all the artists involved, who were able to skillfully build on the concept and take it a strep further. Unlike in most of the runway shows that I have seen, where the one concept prevails, all the makeup looks (except for 3) were done by one makeup artist – Elena Ashley Tiffany Seepe (@eatsmakeup) departing from one and one thing only, the character’s runway character.
I was given an amazing opportunity from Amplify to be a MUA with them. I had the pleasure to be a part of their video shoot as well as their show. With that, also had a massive amount of creative freedom. Bri, from Amplify, created mood boards for me with general concepts of what the makeup should mimick/be under the guidelines of, and I was allowed, from there, to just run with it and make it my own. Which was glorious.
I did have some input back from models as to how we could go bigger and better with the looks from the video shoot on to the actual show itself. But essentially was given full reign to explore and add some of my FX background to certain looks, or to modify and create bolder looks based on what we had explored in our video shoot. I have a slight obsession with creating looks that don’t just focus on a face, I enjoy painting hands and pulling the makeup to basically any portion of skin that’s available to me and the models accepted, if not appreciated this and allowed me to run with my vision to create the looks you saw on the runway.
Elena Ashley Tiffany Seepe
The day to day operation of a company involved in fashion design, no matter how small is more than just one or even few successful shows! It is about finding the right people who share your aesthetics and the vision for the company . And the smaller the company is the tighter the connection. Here are the amazing words that explain the fantastic chemistry that you feel coming from the brand by Allie Wood’s Assistant Bri:
“Allie and I met about 7 or 8 years ago, before the birth of her daughter and the birth of her company – in another lifetime! We were actually both modeling in a show together during the early years of Fashion Art Toronto, and immediately our mutual oddness drew us together. She invited me to model a few of her early designs (most notably, her first sculptural wire headpiece) and I was immediately hooked on her aesthetic, her ambition, and her attitude. Little did we know I’d be assisting her in showcasing her designs a few years later, in the very show where we met!
Over the past 5 years we have only continued to collect other fellow oddballs, and they are some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Our performers really make the shows what they are. Having an amazing backstage crew doesn’t hurt either – everything counts, and it all has to work together. Everyone we’ve worked with has brought their own one-of-a-kind talent and perspective to the projects they’ve been part of. Allie’s stunning and electric designs demand to be filled with the energy and personality that went into making them, and we are lucky to always have a small army of people at the ready who more than measure up! This year’s collection especially required each team member to bring something personal and raw to their work, which everyone did with great bravery. By sharing our experiences with each other on the journey to tell Allie’s story, we ended up telling a story that was bigger than all of us.
Being on the Amplify Apparel team has personally offered me a unique opportunity to merge all of my various backgrounds in musical theatre, stage management, photography and film, modeling, drag, circus and clown, visual art, fashion, and costume design in a way that I thought was impossible. In Allie’s work, all of these worlds intersect naturally, and even rely on each other to succeed. An Amplify Apparel show begins as a creative tornado, evolves into a complex collaborative theatre project, and ends up as an immersive live art performance which nobody is likely to forget.”Bri Playter, Amplify Apparel Assistant
One more time Amplify Apparel has crossed the line between fashion and art – making it more the statement of emotion and self expression rather than wearable comfort. And I was glad to witness that this self expression is so much supported and encouraged by Toronto fashion and art community. I am looking forward to the new concepts and new shows!
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