Style sticks and stones: A model weekend

Last Saturday, Vanja Vasic, the organizer of Toronto Alternative Arts & Fashion Week [], asked me to sit in on.

Last Saturday, Vanja Vasic, the organizer of Toronto Alternative Arts & Fashion Week [], asked me to sit in on the model casting for the event. What was I thinking supporting the waif-y, flakey model racket, you may be wondering? Here?s the deal.


The yoga studio at Extreme Fitness on Richmond where the judging took place was set up like a Next Top Model episode complete with club chairs, cameras and a line of catwalk hopefuls snaking out the door. The difference was who made up those hopefuls. Everyone from aspiring beauty queens, tattooed and pierced hipsters, fashion students and drop in fitness buffs threw their best runway walk into the ring for a chance at fifty spots on FAT?s diverse model roster.

There wasn?t a single slot on the judging form to evaluate a model?s height or weight. Instead, we were asked to rate personal style, stage presence and walking confidence.

The panel included Vasic, designer-turned-artist and FAT participant Annie Thompson [] and Ben Barry, founder of the Ben Barry Model Agency [].

Barry got his model agent start in his teens coaching classmates into international modeling careers. As his agency grew, it evolved into an alternative casting resource for advertisers hunting for real people of all shapes and sizes for their campaigns. Last fashion week he launched his Fashioning Reality book which follows his rise in the style industry and the challenge of changing its limited beauty standards.

On Sunday, I sat in on another model casting. My partner Philip Sparks is showing on site for the first time at L?Oreal Fashion Week [] and his Chinatown studio hosted a parade of boyish-to-butch guys answering his call. Following models isn?t really my forte (though I?m getting better at recognizing the Canadian faces who pop up in international shows on but now that Philip has been casting for a few seasons, I?m starting to remember names and walks.

To study up on the Toronto model scene, there?s []. The site shrugs off the body image issues that plague aspiring models and ad consumers but celebrates our booming local industry and the personalities behind the comp cards.

Bonus Sweet Deals

Gus furniture?s [] warehouse sale takes place this Saturday and Sunday between 8 am and 4 pm at 223 Evans. Look for up to 80 per cent off discounts on modern sofas, sectionals, chairs, ottomans and accent tables.

Revolve Clothing [] holds its studio sale today and tommorow between 5 pm and 8 pm and on Saturday between 1 pm and 4 pm at 345 Sorauren, suite 6. Pieces from the fall/winter collection are 50 per cent off and designer Lara Stephenson is giving shoppers first crack at men?s organic cotton and bamboo tees from the spring collection.

Nathalie-Roze & Co. [] (1015 Queen East, 416-792-1699) hosts a Women?s Day sale and fundraiser this Saturday. The entire store is 10 per cent off with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Woodgreen Community Centre.

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