Saturday, October 31, 2009

Art on our bodies

The first splat of paint came with a loud howl into the night. Blue, pink and purple streaks stretched across the black sky. The colours roped around our bodies, dotted nearby cars. Like wild children we chased each other across the park and up the quiet street, screaming laughter into open windows and leaving footprints like liquid sidewalk chalk.

We arrived all messy, grinning like Dennis the Menace so clear we’d been up to trouble. And so we held our shoulders close to our bodies and hoped like hell we wouldn’t leave pink streaks on the rug. More liquor, more paint, more and more. New lines and stains and smeared red smudges. Orange in the corners, green on the chest, and our roller in the hands of strangers.

The cabbies knew nothing, having driven many of us all drunk on madness towards the costume haunts. With tip we left pink secrets on door handles and waved with our child actor grin. The camera died with the last empty beer bottle and we made it home to showers early, soaking tubs with the swampy water off our coloured backs.

Morning brought pale white skin and the promise of a second costume, once we’ve shook up and off all the crusted paint. And in a morning bed look up at the ceiling and say to no one: no brushes, ever.



The confessional and the conceptual (artist)

It’s a Wednesday morning in October and I’m in the confessional at St. Michael’s Church. I’ve never been inside a holy booth before and neither has Nadja Sayej, who is also stuffed inside the single person space. Though there are a few things we may be guilty of, neither of us fessing up to any of them. The conversation, instead, is all about art.

Sayej knows a thing or two about the topic. She went to OCAD a few years back, but decided she’d rather write about art than make it. After dropping out of Ryerson (partially because its J School neglects arts reporting) Savej started freelancing for the Globe and Mail, the Gazette, and the New York Times.

After some editorial switch ups at the Globe, Sayej cooked up a new plan: to become an internet phenomena. Her vehicle of choice is the video blog Art Stars, which chronicles the on-goings of Toronto’s gallery opening scene. Created with the help of Jeremy Bailey and Ryan Edwards, Art Stars is an all-on attack on art world pretension.

Sayej admits she was once a Belmont-smoking, coffee drinking art kid with an all black wardrobe, but says she’s grown tired of all of art’s clich├ęs. Now Sayej dresses up in crayon coloured tops, sparkling vintage jumpers, and the occasional set of hooker heels. She even sports bright blue Buddy Holly glasses, though she swears she needs those to see.

Art Stars is one part Borat, and another serious arts reporting. Everything about the vlog, from its ‘80s arcade graphics to Sayej’s wild wardrobe, is firmly tongue in cheek. But Sayej still asks tough questions, and often ones others are afraid to ask, like, What could this exhibit possibly mean?? Or to those opening attendees only wiling to spout off positive reviews: Is there anything you don’t like??

In the confessional booth the tables are turned, and I’m the one asking the questions. We talk about the dismal salary of the arts reporter, Art Stars' plans to attack Yorkville, and the indie rockers and it girls who can be seen guzzling free beer at downtown art openings. Eventually I hear footsteps, and decide to make a swift exit before the Catholic who asked us to move our interview from the central pews can catch a glimpse of our second on-site location. Then it's out the door and into the morning sunlight to watch Sayej bike away.

A week later I join Sayej, Bailey, and Edwards for a taping of the vlog’s signature *snaps*. Like clowns out of a car, new costumes keep coming out of Sayej’s small bag. First a black ensemble with a single glove, then a fur-covered jacket, and finally the reveal: a red pencil skirt and a black bra. Once dressed (or undressed), Sayej goes about her business, snapping, posing, and playing.

As Bailey and Edwards are filming and shouting out suggestions, I’m rapidly snapping photos. In all, I take almost 600. The shots are edited and assembled over Sayej’s confessional interview.

The result is as follows.







About as real as Bravo
*Photo: Terry Richardson for Rolling Stone

The quote of the moment:

"...we're smack in the middle of an era where not only is truth stranger than fiction, but the two are so closely interwoven that we half expect to wake up tomorrow and find out that Chuck Bass is real and dating Tinsley Mortimer."

-the Fug Girls for New York magazine online

And I'm all, "Yeah man, but that's just a beard. Chuck's gay, like Anderson Cooper. Everyone knows that."

Friday, October 30, 2009

That same old blonde-vs-brunette story

Mr. Murphy, it seems we’ve done this once before. Exactly ten years ago, long before the founding of Glee club, writer and producer Ryan Murphy took a walk down the high school hallways of another comedic drama, Popular.

Like Glee, Popular was an over-the-top, in-your-face depiction of teenisms. But even as satire, Murphy’s caricatures of teenaged good and evil spoke more truth of high school life than any of its ‘90s CW counterparts. Full of blonde queen bee bitches and tortured artsy outcasts, every stereotype was accounted for. Obviously outlandish, Popular wasn’t about how high school actually looked or sounded—it was about how it felt.

Same goes for Glee. High school wasn’t a time when kids from different cliques sang and danced together. It’s more of a slurpee-in-the-face kind of a place, and Murphy knows it. Still, with time the characters will loose their extreme edges, just like the Popular kids did. The geeks will get standing ovations for solos, while jocks and cheerios will receive a downgrade, and all will start to realize that they’re more alike than they’d thought.

Cheerio Quinn Fabray has already lost her head-cheerleader title, shaking up the hierarchy. And on the other end of the social ladder, Rachel’s been dubbed a hot Jew—no small feat for the once least-liked girl in school. I’d save further speculation for future episodes, but let us not forget that this is a Ryan Murphy production, and could get cancelled at any minute.

Post-Popular Murphy has had some success with Nip/Tuck, and has since been given the go-ahead on major productions like the upcoming mom-friendly Julia Roberts flick Eat Pray Love, and the Demi Moore plastic surgery thriller Face. But for those who watched Popular like a religion, the cliff-hanger ending Murphy accidently left on the second season before being told he wouldn’t get to pen a third was too much to take.

So before FOX pulls Mr. Murphy’s take on the American Idol masses, let’s do a quick character comparison, so we can guess what song comes next.


The super sensitive jock

Kind and clueless, Finn and Josh are a lot alike. Both are football quarterbacks with dopey eyes and an interest in the arts. While Josh was the lead in two school plays, Finn is glee club’s main man. If Finn follows in Josh’s footsteps, he’ll probably develops a social conscious and switch from blondes to brunettes once Quinn starts packing on the pregnancy pounds—Josh had a high school marriage to the outcast group’s token non conformist, Lily.
The blonde queen bee

Who could forget a name like Brooke McQueen? At the start of the series Brooke seemed to be all things evil, but as time wore on and the second season began, Brooke broke down, brought a chubby cheerleader onto the squad, and even briefly dated the homely (not to mention unpopular) Harrison John. So don’t be surprised when Quinn quits the cold-heart routine.

The socially ostracized underdog

On the scale of high-school-cool student journalist and Broadway baby have the same rating of double-zero. But the jury’s not out just yet. Sam McPherson had her run at notoriety and power, and so will Rachel. But until she does away with those sweetheart sweaters, I don’t see Rachel in a prom queen crown any time soon.

The evil androgynous staff member

Miss Roberta 'Bobbi' Glass couldn’t hold a glass beaker to Sue Sylvester’s plots of evil genious. No, Sylvester and Glass are in definitely in different leagues, but the sport they are playing is all the same. Scheming, student-hating, and a no-holds-barred attitude towards everything, these two are the most masculine of any of Murphy’s characters, and fear them you should. No predictions here, just pure awesomeness.

And that’s how Sue sees it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The crazed ice queen, in the asylum after the war

By the final day of fashion week, we had all drifted firmly into insanity. Luckily, Mr. Lucian Matis was right there with us to open the door of the asylum.

As I wrote today on Canada.com, “The models looked like they had just escaped some magical, fashionable insane asylum. Strapped into studded headgear and dressed in flowing silver and gold gowns, the models in Lucian Matis’ fashion show on Friday looked like ice queens gone crazy.”

That the dresses didn’t necessarily flatter came secondary to the concept and construction. As I said in response to a reporter who complained that the dresses didn’t even look good on the models’ pin-thin bodies: fashion is not always about looking good.

Let that be the lesson from the week, if there is one at all. And for the record, Mr. Matis, I think your ice queens were gorgeous.

Haux headgear

Post-TV prodigy

Cut-eye from your favourites
*photo by theDavidPike
Miss Moshana Lundstrom as interviewed by yours truly
photo by theDavidPike
Bow-ties and four eyes, fashionably geeking out
Front row favourites
Degrassi darlings
Miss Biffi's dayglo set
Candy-coloured ice cream, from Pat NcDonagh
Let the last drip melt away

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chocolate, popcorn and other LG product-placements

By day four I’d begun to drag my heels. Convinced the cabbies were conspiring with mother nature to ruin my day (and by day I mean, you know, hair) I walked up and down the same strip of street near my house, waving at passing cabs. Just as the mist turned to rain one stopped to pick me up and I made my way to the tents three minutes before the show was scheduled to start.

First it was Aime Luxury with headdresses by the lovely Lara Vincent, whose mum sat front row, pretty in a pink piece made her daughter. Then coffee with Carli, whose blazer was perfectly on-trend with its bulging Balmain-ish shoulders, but still kept shaking her head and insisting that after her first trip to the tents, she just doesn’t get fashion. (It’s OK Carli, though you don’t get fashion, it seems to get you.)

Then was the reveal of the new product-placed LG Chocolate, which found its way onto the runway in the form of the huge bedazzled accessories flashing Evan Biddell’s emblem during his show. After Evan was Rudsak’s snooze-inducing catalogue collection and Nada’s romantic old-gothic showcase of nipples and lace.

Like always, the best was last, and that was the aftermath: a bed and a boy and conversation to kill for, after too many days spent away.

After my interview with Evan is SNP, pretty in purple
Ringing wrists
Mr. Biddell's finale

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rain and the rockstar's daughter

And on the third day, there was rain. The formerly fresh black carpet leading into the temporary tents set up for the fashion crowd grew damp and disgusting as the day went on. By nightfall the rain had stopped but the damage was done, leaving the event undeniably un-glamorous once the smell of the nearby slaughterhouse was accounted for.

No bother. Canadians can glam up anything and play pretend. And so we did watching grocery store garments come down the runway with surprising style and grace. To Joseph Mimran, the man first behind Club Monaco and now Joe Fresh, a thank-you is in order. The Canadian style king brought out Theodora Richards, the darling daughter of one Keith Richards, who sauntered down the runway with her signature smirk.

And to his wife, Ms. Kimberely Newport-Mimran, thanks for models who have been trained to walk, and for the mesh, the rolled up sleeves, the sequins, and the edge we honestly weren’t expecting. Well tailored, well played.

With that it was twenty-something time with the pack of trendy young things stuffed into Carte Blanch where work by Hannah and Kavin was on the walls. Drinks and dancing to ironic ‘90s pop hits, as expected. It ended as quickly as we arrived and after the owner took to the counter top for his list of thank-yous it was out the door and into a cab, and as the others continued on to the next party I called it a night.

A night, it was.

*You can read my runway roundup on Canada.com here.

By TheDavidPike
By TheDavidPike



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Life size lovelies and other modeling misadventures

The single tear dripping down the model’s made-up face is a tell tale sign there was trouble on the runway. Don’t smudge it, sweetie, you want to say, but hold back. The crying doesn’t bother her cigarette-smoking mother, who is busy recounting the model’s moments of glory and announcing future plans.

She’s going to be a designer, or an interior decorator. Maybe work in advertising, the mother says. At least this one doesn’t want to be an actor, you think, staring at the silent, pretty face tucked behind the model’s dangling hair. She’s 14, been at since 12. It’s a job, the mother says, but will be the gateway to a career. In something.

There’s a tap on her back, then a smile from a stranger. “You did amazing,” the stranger gushes to the model. The heels were far too big, wobbling warily down the runway, they both agree. The models sniffles, smiles, and regains her composure, which she will need.

The meeting with IMG is in the morning, the mother says.

David Dixon's muse of choice, Barbie
Beyonce's boy, JaQuel Knight, apparently also works for Barbie
Standing still: a model lounges in Andy The-Ahn
Seeing triple? The girls of Chloe Beckerman are back in town
The models don't need to eat, but the photogs still do
Puttin' on the Fritz, with fashion's favourite it-boy
In the middle? That's Ken. No, seriously
The adorable Josh and Liam Dixon
The night ends with a bang, thanks to Bustle
Life after reality (television)

Though autumn’s cold, windy weather has arrived, designer Sunny Fong transformed the Art Gallery of Ontario into a tropical paradise at yesterday’s kick off to Toronto Fashion Week.

The show, inspired by French Polynesia, was Fong’s first since winning the second season of Project Runway Canada last April. It also served as the re-launch of Fong’s label, VAWK, which went under before he appeared on the show.

With the help of his new business partner, Canadian entrepreneur Ben Barry, Fong resurrected the label and created a collection of twelve looks to show at LG fashion week. The garments included a leather trench, a white power pantsuit, a flowing dress with a sheer floral cutout, and a floor-length chiffon gown that closed the show.

Fong mixed muted ivory and cream with hints of vibrant fuchsia and red, inspired by the colours of the hibiscus flowers that grow in Polynesia. Fong paid close attention to detail, punching holes in intricate patterns on leather items and twisting organza silk to create plush textures. Looks were completed by thick brown belts and fringed necklaces.

Alongside the press and usual fashion industry insiders, who sat in rows of chairs set up in the AGO’s foyer, Fong’s fans piled into the hallways overlooking the runway, which served as the show’s general admission area. The show also streamed live on VAWK’s website, as Alexander McQueen’s show did earlier this season in Paris.

Jason Meyers and Jessica Biffi, the two runners up from season two of Project Runway, are also showing collections this week. Meyers is showing this evening at 5 pm, and Biffi, who attended Fong’s show, will present her collection on Friday.

*This post is pulled from Canada.com, where I'll be reporting over the coming weeks. You can see the video footage, shot by the boys at Slice, alongside the article, which is posted here.