Fashion still cares
An event produced by a ragtag group of Toronto's fashion and business elite is guaranteed to generate its fair share of catty chatter, and the buzz before this year's Fashion Cares fundraiser didn't disappoint style gossips.
After two decades of raising big dough for the AIDS Committee of Toronto, the event found a new home (a compound of tents, galleries and restos in the Distillery District) and a new creative boss (New York import Chip Quigley, who tactlessly championed $1,000 ticket exclusivity in an Xtra! preview piece). What stayed the same was the annual fevered headliner speculation (the list included Mya, Kelly Rowlands and queen bee burlesquer Dita Von Teese, who all made an appearance) for the May 12 glamorama.
We surrendered our cushy media pass this year to take on backstage volunteer duties in FC's trenches with the fashion committee headed by Boutique Le Trou's Marlene Shiff and Holt Renfrew's Natalie Lecomte. Shiff and Lecomte charged their Canadian designer contributors to come up with futuristic pin-up costumes in an art deco colour palette. For Irene Stickney, that meant a denim bathing suit with ruffles cascading down the derriere. Kale.lief+Hebber produced a plastic tutu that was sewed onto a ballerina moments before she bounded onto the stage.
As the VIPs arrived at 5 pm, there were worries that the drag queen turnout would be low, but they were, naturally, just waiting to make an entrance. By 7:30, "Cher" had arrived on the red carpet, and by 9 pm she had already made a costume change to a Virgin Mary look.
Wardrobe-tent-side action included a member of Pussycat Dolls offspring Girlesque screaming, "There they are!" as Von Teese freed her boobies from a sparkly brassiere before diving into a giant glass of champagne onstage. Mya wavered between Jason Matlo and Arthur Mendonça dresses and decided on a gold-sequined Mendonça for her act. I earned my volunteer T by pinning a flower onto auctioneer Justin Ryan's top hat, hanging up dancer Rex Herrington's Zoran Dobric outfit and "handling" Canada's first top model, Monika Schnarre, the 10 feet from her makeup chair to the stage.
TTC-ing it home in lieu of the after-party, it was easy to eavesdrop on the usual round of criticism (Too cold! Crocs in the silent auction?), but what's another fabulous Fashion Cares without a healthy serving of style, skepticism and sass.