Imagining a post-digital world at Mass Exodus 2018

By: Regina Dickson

“May we ask you to put away your mobile devices for just twenty minutes and allow the lenses of your eyes to appreciate the work, not the lenses of your mobile device,” said Robert Ott, Chair of the Ryerson School of Fashion, as he opened the 30th annual Mass Exodus fashion show.

This year’s collections were nothing short of unique, featuring space terrain, a vacuum cleaner impersonation, bridal gowns, accessible clothing and more. This year’s event was also a call to unplug from digital technology, and to imagine a post-digital world, at least for the duration of the show.

Ott explained the digi-free take on this year’s show, “We gave students a directive to look forward and imagine a future, a world that is not defined by digi-technology. A world that we call post-digital. And it’s a world that re-engages us with the physicality of things, the beauty of objects and the meaning of being present.”

Mass Exodus is organized by third-year fashion communication students at Ryerson University. It showcases the works of fourth-year fashion design students, introducing them to the industry and the public.

‘Jupeio’ by Karin Meister

One of the most unique collections displayed last friday was ‘Jupeio’ by Karin Meister. It was a kids’ collection inspired by space terrain. “I thought, if we were to travel to a different planet, or do space excavation, what would a kid wear?” said Meister in an interview with CanCulture.


Photo credits: Regina Dickson

Photo credits: Regina Dickson

She aimed this collection to young girls, since she noticed that space and science themed clothing on the current market is mostly found in the boys’ section. However, Meister also wanted this collection to follow the current trend of unisex wear. “While my collection is for young girls, I wanted to also create pieces that boys could wear if they wanted,” she said


Her collection is also all about fun and comfort, which explains the bright colours that give the designs a futuristic feel. She said, “I wanted to create something that they could move around in, have fun in, and it’s sort of like a more realistic dress-up to match their interests.”

‘Personify’ by Beverly Tse

Another collection in this year’s repertoire was ‘Personify’ by Beverly Tse. Through the collection Tse wanted to play with the juxtaposing relationship between the artificial and the natural. “I looked at objects such as suction cups, vacuum cleaners and I kind of realized that, for some reason, I could see a part of myself in them, in a way. I looked at a vacuum bag and how when you take the air out of it, it’s kind of like a human breathing,” she explained.

Her designs bring inanimate objects such as a vacuum cleaner to life.

Photo credit: Regina Dickson

Photo credit: Regina Dickson

Instead of focusing on online research, like some other designers, Tse looked at things around her for inspiration. Her approach fits well into the digi-free theme of this year’s Mass Exodus.

Her inspiration also came from wishing to experiment with unusual things she’s never used before. That’s when she ordered suction cups and after cutting them in different shapes began picturing her ‘futuristic garden’ dress.

“When I was making these things (suction cup shapes) I realized that I was, in a sense, personifying these materials and making inanimate objects have human characteristics or innate qualities of humans and nature,” she said. That’s how the name of her collection ‘Personify’ was born.

“I Do’ in Urban Streetwear’ by Melissa Nugara

A third collection on display at Friday’s show was “I Do’ in Urban Streetwear’ by Melissa Nugara. This collection consists of pieces that a contemporary bride might wear, such as a pant suit. Despite the modernity of the collection, Nugara stuck with the traditional white colour for all of her designs.

Photo by Regina Dickson

Photo by Regina Dickson

The profile of Nugara’s collection on the Mass Exodus website reads, “The goal of this collection is to steer away from the bridal ideal and traditions by using innovative ways of designing and constructing bridal gowns.”

 ‘Un-form’ by Sonia Prancho

 Lastly, the collection receiving most applause from the audience was ‘Un-form’ by Sonia Prancho. It was designed for young women with functional limitations or physical disabilities, which require an easier way of dressing. “I am pulling away from trying to adapt clothing and instead designing for their bodies and needs,” said Prancho on the Mass Exodus website.

Photos by Regina Dickson

Photos by Regina Dickson

Her collection includes elements such as velcro, magnet zippers and full side opening pants, all geared to ease the dressing process. In addition to being an accessible clothing collection, it was modelled by young women with physical limitations or disabilities. Ott’s challenge to unplug from digital technology was well received by the audience. Hardly any screens were lit up as the viewers sat in awe of the designs.

Rising stars: Vincentian-Toronto designer Rhonique Ballantyne

By Aya Baradie 


Making fashion sketches during law class on the small island of Saint Vincent in the Caribbean, Rhonique Ballantyne never imagined her success as a fashion designer in a fast-paced city like Toronto. Now, only a few years later, she sits with numerous awards, including “Best in Show” and “Most Media Ready” for her latest fashion collection, Artifice. She studied fashion design at Seneca College in 2011 and received a diploma in fashion design. She opens up about her journey to fashion and her own struggles and successes as a new designer:

Describe the process of creating a design from the idea to the finished collection.

There's nothing simple about translating an idea from your mind and then bringing it to life. It's a whole process. The collection [Artifice] took a whole year to create, focusing all my energy on how to do it properly. I start by finding a few ideas and adding them to my inspiration board. This includes shapes, colours and silhouettes. I had to do over a 100 sketches for a four-piece collection. Sketching out 100 different outfits gets you the full range of ideas and that way you get the best of the best basically. After the 100 sketches, you condense it even further and develop those outfits that stand out.  

What was your latest collection "Artifice" inspired by?

It was actually inspired by a game of chess. I very much knew I wanted to pick up those faceted pieces and that can all be reflected in this collection. I didn't want my final collection to be just flowers or something else overplayed. This collection would set the pace for the rest of my career and so I wanted it to have meaning behind it, and chess is a game that is very rich in metaphors. The pawn in a game of chess is able to transform into any piece it desires as long as it successfully navigates the board and makes it to the other side. That really struck a chord to me what with my own upbringing and where I started out in life. It doesn't matter what hand you're played in life, you can choose to navigate it as you please and really make a change.

What challenges do you experience while you design?

My challenges were mostly financial. Fabric is really expensive, so I had to make do with the finances I had at the time when I was in school. I do think that the challenge of money helped me to really get creative with the resources I had. If you really analyze the pieces, they are all just simple materials, but the way it presents itself is of much higher value.

What happens when you get stuck on a piece?

This happens quite a lot, but when it does, I feel like I just have to walk away from it for a bit and do things that don't relate to fashion. There's a lot of beauty and inspiration in the world outside of fashion. Music, in particular, is really helpful when I'm stuck on a design piece. I tend to listen to artists whose passion can be felt in their music, like Beyoncé and Kanye West, feed off their energy.

How did you get into fashion?

Before I even started out in fashion school, when I would buy clothes, it would make me feel very confident about my image. That feeling of confidence that fashion gave me was a big reason for going into this industry because I realized I wanted to give that feeling to someone else.

 Did you have an "Aha" moment that made you realize you wanted to do fashion?

My grandmother was a seamstress and I spent a lot of time watching her work while I was growing up. I feel like what she did really resonated with me. Even in the Caribbean while I was studying law, I would get distracted easily during class and I would be sketching outfits.  

Tell me about your transition from Saint Vincent to Toronto.

Saint Vincent was an incredibly small island and I think I always knew I wanted to do bigger things for myself outside of the Caribbean. Coming to Toronto, it was definitely difficult. I would get lost a lot and attract stares because of my heavy accent and I didn't really have any friends here when I first started out. It's like you're starting your life from scratch.

How has your Caribbean upbringing influenced your work ethic?

One big thing I was taught growing up in Saint Vincent was to be resourceful. We didn't have much going on for us on that tiny island, but we made the most with what we had. We also were used to waking up very early in the morning to get work done and that's a habit I carried on to Canada and has helped me succeed as a designer.  

What motivates you to continue designing?

My family is a huge motivator for me. My mom raised my siblings and I as a single mother and most of what I'm doing is thanks to her. I feel like each generation should aim to do better than the previous one and I want to create a legacy for my family through fashion. I feel like I have a certain point that I'm trying to get across with fashion and designing helps me share it with the rest of the world.

How was your family's support when you decided to pursue fashion?

When I first applied to the fashion program, my mom thought I was applying to nursing. When she found out I never actually applied to nursing, and that I got accepted into fashion, she was really upset and we didn't talk for a couple of weeks. She thought it was a joke telling me "How could you do fashion design with no sewing experience?" I had to show her what I was capable of doing and how hard I was willing to work to succeed. After winning a couple of the fashion competitions at school, she saw how dedicated I was and was happy with my decision to go into this program. 

This piece was edited by Isabelle Kirkwood. 

10 Canadian fashion bloggers to look out for this year

By Aya Baradie

Instagram has become an increasingly popular platform for everyone to showcase their fashion blogging talents. From crazy patterns to pastel pinks, we believe these ten Canadian fashion bloggers have a lot of inspiration to offer fashion enthusiasts everywhere:

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1. Cara McLeay (@carajourdan)

Followers: 219K

What you can expect: sundresses and major hairstyle inspo

Where: Vancouver, BC



2.  Qing (@qingaling)

Followers: 37.7K

What you can expect: a grey and pink aesthetic with a whole lot of coffee

Where: Toronto, Ont.


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3. Sarah Hasni (@sarahhasni)

Followers: 30.4K

What you can expect: chic, parisian outfits with a beautifully-styled turban

Where: Montreal, QC


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4. Abdulla Khatib (@absdulla)

Followers: 9.3K

What you can expect: an array of different styles from a vintage 60s look to relaxed puffer vests.

Where: Toronto, Ont.


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5. Alanna Durkovich (@xandervintage)

Followers: 221K

What you can expect: urban street style with ever-changing hair colours and styles

Where: Vancouver, BC



6. Mo Handahu (@Misslionhunter)

Followers: 47.3K

What you can expect: crazy, vibrant prints and the biggest smile you’ll ever see

Where: Halifax, NS



7. Farahdhukai

Followers: 5.9M

What you can expect: beauty tutorials and everyday life hacks for skin and hair care

Where: Toronto, Ont.


8. Amanda Monty

Followers: 39.5K

What you can expect: an endless array of pastel-coloured outfits, with a huge emphasis on pink

Where: Hamilton, Ont.


9. Jonathan Cavaliere (@Themrcavaliere)

Followers: 18.6K

What you can expect: a combination of relaxed and sophisticated; a suit paired with sneakers

Where: Toronto, Ont.




10. Lady Divine (@uhmlady)

Followers: 50.7K

What you can expect: taking minimalism and streetwear to a whole new level

Where: Edmonton, AB