Underground Fashion in Vancouver


Although this blog is about art and fashion, it has been heavy on the art events. Art is what I’m familiar with; fashion is new to me. So when I discovered an underground fashion show with free, reserve in advance tickets, I jumped at the opportunity and saved two tickets. Not for the first time, I had no success tracking down a date for the evening, but I pulled out my best creative thinking cap and started to get ready anyway.

I had spent the last year and a half since moving to Vancouver feeling like I didn’t know how to pull off a good look in Vancouver. I was fed up with that and decided to dress exactly how I wanted to. So out came the slouchy 90s dress pants, lace halter top and sky-high wedges. But any fashionista knows that your basic outfit isn’t enough. What it needed was an edge. Since I was onto the 90s theme, I took out a bejewelled lizard pin and used it to secure my left pant leg, which I had rolled up to mid-calf length. Was it weird? Yes, but Chloë Sevigny didn’t become a fashion icon by following the rules. She became a fashion icon by wearing things like too big heels with elastics to hold them on. She’s my fashion hero, and I decided to start acting like it.

My descent into Are You MIA? was like going down a rabbit hole. As soon as I stepped into the lineup, I knew immediately that this was the alternative fashion culture in Vancouver. I wasn’t going to be experiencing the mainstream.  Girls were dressed in everything from the androgynous look to fake fur 70s jackets. I felt a glimmer of hope for the fall of the skinny jean, but then I reminded myself that this was the fringe. I wove my way down the ramps and turned corners until I walked out onto the dance floor and headed for the bar on the other side of the room. I was early for the show, so I headed to the corner with my Sol and waited.

It was the perfect spot. I snagged a few pictures of the models getting ready for the show. It was easy to catch the sense of anticipation. The models were amped up and the crowd kept looking expectantly over into the corner. As the shows started, broken up by performances by dancers and rappers, the energy built even more. The shows dazzled. Possibly my favourite moment was when the designer for Boi Culture bought all her models a shot before their turn in the lineup. They downed it in true androgynous style and headed off to strut the runway with their “Fashion Has No Gender” motto.

I went home that night feeling excited about fashion for the first time since I had moved to Vancouver. Fashion is meant to be fun, and that’s what the fringe of fashion in Vancouver had reminded me of. My pinned up pant-leg that night was like putting on my own skin again. I felt like I had at 19, wearing doc martin boots with a shaved head, but this time it was 90s gangster style dress pants and my beaded “B” necklace for Big City Art. Make way for the next fashion icon Ms. Sevigny!





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