Since its very humble beginnings in 1852 as a Teachers College, Ryerson University has evolved from a single concept discipline into an ever-expanding campus. Due to the diversity of programs and degrees currently being offered to its 100,000 plus students, one could refer to it as “The Heart of Toronto”. The fact that attending students are drawn from across Canada as well as from around the world adds to the phenomenal recognition it continues to build upon as a world-class institution.
From its transition into a recognized Poly-Technical Institution in 1948 to a full-fledged University in 1993 Ryerson has evolved with the times. “Mind and Skill” has been their motto and it continues to inspire their cutting edge approach to offering the best education in a multitude of disciplines.
Among the many distinguished Faculties at Ryerson is the School of Fashion. Established in the late 1940’s, it continues to garner international attention with its guiding principles of heritage, diversity and innovation. Alumni from the fashion design program are now scattered across the globe.
Since the late forties, the final year students have come together to participate in a fashion show that shines a light on their diverse and well-crafted visions. Rebranded 25 years ago as “Mass Exodus” as a way of integrating the talents of the students in the Schools of Fashion, Theatre and Radio and Television Arts it has become the largest student-run fashion event in North America. The focus has remained on the runway creations created by up and coming designers now equipped and eager to begin their careers. The production value of the show was of a standard any international designer would have been proud to be apart of. This also opens the door to the various possibilities of the technical support from the affiliated faculties and departments.
Hosted for the first time at the newly renovated Maple Leaf Gardens (yet another Toronto landmark and recently acquired addition to the Ryerson Campus) it was attended by a near sold out crowd. The newly named “Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Gardens” was an added touch that made Mass Exodus’s 25th year anniversary a true spectacle.
The second floor (now regularly housing basketball courts) was transformed into an exhibition hosted by a variety of students who are graduating from the four-year program in Fashion Communication. A variety of topics was explored and presented in a thought-provoking manner. Each student was given their own designated area to construct and express their point of view. Integrating their areas of interest with the acquired skills and technology gathered from this program it was evident their futures hold much promise.
The third floor (now regularly housing a hockey rink) was meticulously transformed into a fashion show venue that included four huge overhead screens directly above the square shaped runway. Approximately 100 graduating students showcased their designs during a daytime presentation attended primarily by friends and family. The evening presentation featured twenty students and was attended by industry insiders, sponsors, media and the general public.
This year was a departure from a theme-based event that enabled the students to design collections based on their own inspirations, passions and visions. “The Prism” was a token nod to formulating a concept vague enough to allow the students to follow their hearts rather than attempt to fit into a designated theme. It was also an excellent strategy for Ryerson to showcase the diversity of its various disciplines. It was the coming together of the various skill sets that truly made Mass Exodus an excellently crafted and cohesive event.
Each up and coming designer was introduced prior to showing their creations via video presented on the huge overhanging screens. Each gave their own unique slant on why they are pursuing careers in fashion design and what inspired them to create the looks about to be presented. It was a brilliant way to introduce and highlight their unique perspectives as well as draw focus to their diverse areas of interest and talents.
Fabrication, design, creativity or simply a commercial alternative to the trends flooding the current marketplace were various elements highlighted by the twenty selected as the crème de la crème of the graduating class.
Categories ranged from women’s apparel (lingerie, sportswear, evening wear), men’s wear (sportswear, casual, suiting) to fantasy. Some even opted to showcase pieces designed for both sexes. The intent was to showcase the current philosophy of each designer as they begin to hone and define their brand identities and build upon their commercial appeal.
Regardless of the designer, the pieces were meticulously constructed and complimented with their own choices in models, hair, makeup and accessories. The event was also live streamed around the world to various affiliated universities, colleges and other followers of the Ryerson University.
What a shame a Canadian television network did not seize this opportunity to telecast “Mass Exodus”. Considering the twenty showcased came from various parts of the country it would have been an ideal way to celebrate our homegrown talent while acknowledging the rich diversity of our nation.
Here are the twenty participants in this years’ “Mass Exodus” along with their design sensibilities:
Renz Jayson Araja – Women’s eveningwear that features updated classic silhouettes.
Mikaela Skoretz- Women’s wear designed with a focus on textures and knits.
Michelle Nguyen- Her Ming label emphasizes details and construction in men’s wear.
Anastasiya Kuyevda – Women’s sportswear inspired from the great outdoors.
Yu Sun Kang- Her Nusuy label celebrates the playful nature of women’s wear inspired by her love for Peter Pan.
Corinne Furniss- Her Sea Collection is a unique yet creative take on oversized purses and bags primarily made from leather.
Michons Marigot- Emphasizes her passion for fabrication and her unique approach to women’s wear.
Shannon Nielson- Ethereal is her label that focuses on exquisite women’s lingerie.
Leah Alocilja- Her women’s multi-layered pieces fuse chiffon with leather in a very wearable and uncomplicated manner.
Ryan Joelson- His Fay label transforms women’s eveningwear into fantasy creations.
Michelle Im- Experiments beautifully with hand painted silk day dresses for her Mim label.
Angelica Colucci- Creates her own take on the global influence with her men’s wear collection.
Mani Jassal- Reinterprets classic East Indian women’s wear into a modern and refined mode of dressing.
Jennifer Scholten- Celebrates her passion for knitwear with a unique and well-crafted twist.
Nicole Galbraith- Launched her Nicole Anne label of west coast inspired women’s wear.
Jessica M. Lau- Her JML label celebrates the sensuality and allure of lingerie.
Andrea Lung- Creates a men’s and women’s athletic line that combines function and colour into very unique but wearable pieces.
Vivian Lin-Transforms mid-century silhouettes and transforms them into her own vision of modern day dressing.
Vincent Huynh-Takes a post-apocalyptic yet inspirational approach to men’s wear designs that has a unique edge and appeal.
Meagan Johnston- Interprets her passion for African nuances in her asymmetrical and flowing women’s wear pieces.
This showcase will be a wonderful memory for all those who contributed and to those that also had the privilege of witnessing it. One can only look forward to more from each one of those that participated. How wonderful it was to see them all strut out at the end of the presentation to a standing ovation that rang through the venue. “The End is only the Beginning” was the catchphrase used to signify this talented collective was indeed ready to embark on their promising careers in the world of Fashion.
Congratulations and best wishes to all of those that participated in Mass Exodus 25! The Fashion Industry, like many other professional endeavors, is riddled with many hills and valleys along the road to success. Kudos to Ryerson University for equipping their students with the cutting edge disciplines that will serve as a reliable resource for each one of them to build upon as they continue to transform their creative thoughts into reality.