Lisa Walter introduces “The Bedlam Collection” of fashions through this statement projected large on the large wall at the side of the fashion runway: “The classical notion of the madman as a “Natural” who lives half-clothed and in the outdoors (harmless if peculiar) poignantly contrasts first person narratives of being at war with one’s self as described by people with mental illness.”
And so began the Mad Couture Catwalk at the Fashion Arts Toronto (FAT) Fashion Therapy event on April 23, 2013. The Mad Couture Catwalk was developed by individuals with lived experience of emotional pain through the Workman Arts program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). The collections were initially shown at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2012. Each of eleven or so designers presented a collection of three fashions displayed by models on the runway. Images from some of the collections can be viewed in the first five rows at this web address. (I’m not sure what the later images at this web location represent; I don’t recognize them as including what I saw on April 23.)
The collections were intriguing, and as a group, explored “The Bedlam Collection” themes including inner life as safe or chaotic or fragmented, the gifts of nature, the strains occasioned by the outer world. The collection “So You Wanna Be My Dress, Huh?” by Barbara Greene Mann presented “A tale of overshopping where ladies have lost their heads birthing women who are known as ‘the purseheads.’” Hilarious. The 2012 presentation of this collection can be viewed online. “Controlled Substance” by Sheri STRanger depicted the glamourizing of substance abuse. The final “Ice Collection” by Annette Selp presented representations of depression that can only be described as beautiful and chilling.
The Mad Couture collections provide fascinating commentary on managing of inner and outer life: Not easy, but possible.
If there’s a chance again to see this show or one like it, don’t hesitate to go.
On now or upcoming: The Workman Arts is sponsoring a number of events during May:
Here is Where: Contact Photography Exhibition, May 1 – May 25, 2013, Workman Arts “Pop Up” Gallery on Queen St West at Gordon Bell Rd on the grounds of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
All That Is Real Book Launch, 2:00, Sunday May 5, 2013, The Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen St. West, Toronto.
13th Annual BEING SCENE Juried Exhibition, May 3 to July 4, 2013, 9am to 9pm daily Hart House, University of Toronto, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto
Fat Kid Rules the World, 7:00pm, Saturday, May 11, 2013, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St West, Toronto.