The world of fashion is a paradox: the outer world—the hustle and chaos, the glam and allure—portrays one aspect of the fashion industry, while the inner world—where the artistry spawns from, the expression of emotion, the oppression of a singular body type, the paradigm of beauty—is usually hidden deep under layers of clothing.
The I Love Pretty fashion show embodied the juxtaposition both in the collection that stomped the runway as well as the sentiment that propelled the designer, Xiaojuan Yang, to create the line. I pulled a quote from the Daily Beast that says it best: “ ‘Right now in all of the metropolitan cities, there are a lot of women who are very lonely,’ she said. ‘Depression is a serious issue that a lot of people ignore, and I wanted to bring the focus of the audience to this particular topic. Behind every successful woman’s career, there is always a different story.’ ”
Although you wouldn’t be able to necessarily draw a straight line from mental illness to the I love Pretty collection, the clothes definitely evoked a strong feeling. The contrast between the bubble gum background and the dominatrix garments was the first clue that Yang had a message she wanted to get across. The latex and syringes that wove a dark and eerie motif through both the accessories as well as the gift bag (think stethoscope styled headphones) viewers went home with also gave an incongruent tone to the calming colour palette of white and pink.
Staying true to my personal sense of style, I mixed bold colours of a somewhat classic colour combination. A red Spiritual Gangster track jacket with a black Bailey 44 midi skirt (both from Show and Tell) played up the boyish yet feminine style I’ve been leaning toward lately. Accentuating my athleticism, I have never been happier with the fashion industry than right now – athleisure and activewear has seriously taken over. I paired the look with a white pair of Valentino booties and the geometric Balenciaga bag that seriously got me through fashion week more than I could’ve anticipated!
The sporty look represents the versatility with which I approach fashion. It’s effortless and comfortable, and the truth is, fashion for women has at times (or better said, throughout history) has been so oppressive that we take for granted how free we are to express ourselves in whatever it is we choose to put on our bodies. Staying away from tight-fitting clothes and super high heels, I opted for a flowing skirt and high, but not killer high, sock booties. I ran around New York City like crazy from agency to agency to hit all my meetings, and the look carried me through the day without a hitch.
I hadn’t thought of it when I pulled my outfit, but I am so grateful that fashion is my form of art therapy. I pour my creative self into colour palettes and composition, I style looks and research locations for shoots. I am honoured to be surrounded by crazy talent all year round, but especially during fashion week when I get to peek inside the artistic minds of emerging and established designers and their creative teams. Yang is right, there are people all over the world suffering silently from depression or another form of mental illness. Using her runway as a platform to make a statement spreads awareness and makes people think.
Photography by Patricia Brochu