By: Elizabeth Tam (writer)
We’re all guilty of something.
When it comes to capturing the public gaze, nothing is more compelling than things which are immensely beautiful and dangerous at the same time.
This year’s production of the Victoria College Environmental Fashion Show, titled The 7 Deadliest Sins: Creatures of the Underworld, took place on March 2nd in the Great Hall of Hart House. Featuring the passions
of several undergraduate students, the show presents an evocative display of fashion, ballad, art, and dance. The immersive experience is contrived with by a mesmerizing soundtrack—a playlist which includes some of our faves: Lana Del Rey, Billie Eilish, as well as other, more obscure alternative tracks. As in popular fashion, live performances of Lana’s “Young and Beautiful” and Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” accompany the models as they walk down the runway.
The fashion itself is stunning. Artistry and atmosphere come together to manifest the sinister, otherworldly creatures which reside in the Underworld. It’s shocking, and it’s terrifying, and that’s the point.
The show is inaugurated by traditional conceptions of evil, a Hades-meets-streetwear vision. The ensembles are made of heavy fabrics, lots of black and gold, and comically chunky pieces of hardware. Here, the terror is in its simplicity. These creations elicit a shared understanding of symbols which represent status and danger, and interweave them to produce tangible reminders of life and death. A bulky, black chain worn around the neck by one model in particular is especially striking, and especially reminiscent of the gates to the Underworld.
Turtlenecks and drapes from this gothic segment leave the audience unprepared for what is to come: an NC-17 level of nudity. Certain looks are especially striking, and are risqué enough to make the parents in the front row look around and blush. Varying levels of nudity—at its peak, a model sporting a sultry piece of black lingerie and a red cape—serve as artistry in themselves, and also as sustenance to the theme of sin. These pieces are nostalgic of the historical turbulence regarding pleasure and sex as deviance.
The show’s biggest crowd-pleasers, as measured by the number of cell phones which were raised into the air, would have to be the crazy and the colourful. The juxtaposition of colour and evil is both disturbing and captivating, and provides inspiration for many of the event’s showstoppers. In upholding a certain level of whimsy, many of the creations use smeared face paint, demonic masks, horns, blindfolds, and other props to denote the Underworld. Much of this is inspired by East Asian folklore and, in sum, creates a truly terrifying set of images. Some of these pieces are further intended to communicate messages of environmentalism.
As an ode to capitalism, one model walks down the runway with an H&M bag and a subsequent one with two trash bags. This irony is one of the many instances in which it is clear that the show is composed of purposeful pieces of art.
Fear, love, and desire are among sentiments to be experienced as a spectator to the show. The pieces draw upon human bodies and their humanity, and resonate with our core beings. They make sins relatable and thus accountable, and in this way the show is all a greater nod to the collective’s purpose. It isn’t until the end that the committee discloses the show’s environmentally sustainable method of production, so as not to cloud perceptions of the fashion for fashion’s sake.
The audience is left with a meaningful message of agency: “Fashion can be sustainable if we make it sustainable”. And with that, the event comes to a close. As it is the last year for many of the committee’s exec, this event is a perfect tribute to what makes being a part of Vic so special, and to the talent that exists in secluded parts of our campus.
Cheers to a beautiful event.