Mass Exodus returns


Student designer Amy Tahmizian puts the final touches on her outwear (Erica Huculak / Ryersonian Staff)

With the largest student-run fashion show in the world set to debut on April 3 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC), Ryerson fashion design students are finally ready to reveal their innovative designs.

Now in its 26th year, Mass Exodus is a collaboration between fourth-year fashion design and communication students.

While third-year communication students are responsible for the production of the main show, fourth-year communication students will host an accompanying exhibit. It will display their final capstone projects through various mediums like photography, video production and graphic design.

Fourth-year designers will display their capsule collections — inspired by anything from Elizabethan evening wear to ancient Greek battle armour — on the runway.

Amy Tahmizian, a fourth-year designer, says her collection is inspired by her late grandfather’s watercolour paintings of Ontario provincial parks. She translated this inspiration into the design of her outerwear.

“I’m so excited to see my final collection on the runway because it turned out exactly the way I wanted (it) to and dreamed it would turn out,” Tahmizian says.

The matinee show, beginning at 12:30 p.m., will feature more than 50 final collections, all designed by the senior students.

Guest curator Nicholas Mellamphy, vice-president and buying director at The Room and Personal Shopping at the Hudson’s Bay Company, will then choose approximately 20 to 25 collections to be admitted to the ensuing evening press show, which will be attended by guests from the fashion industry.

Mellamphy will make his decision based on a number of factors including runway appeal, appearance, model choices, styling, hair, and makeup.

Robert Ott, chair of Ryerson’s school of fashion, says that no designers are guaranteed to make it into the press show. “It’s a bit of a reality show segment here. Nobody knows anything,” Ott says.

This year’s theme is inspired by the tensions between structure and chaos. Mass Exodus producer, Serena Giancola, explains that this theme is based on the creative process of fashion students and those in similar industries.

“When you’re coming up with new ideas it’s chaotic —almost messy — but then the final product you produce after all the brainstorming is (structured),” Giancola says.

The school of fashion is run on three guiding principles: heritage, diversity, and innovation. Each year the Mass Exodus production team chooses one of these principles to drive the event and this year’s focus is innovation.

Each year’s show also attempts to create a “legacy contribution.” Ott describes this as an idea or concept that students think about designing, and then executing it to make their show unique from others in the past.

In order to market and expand the reach of Mass Exodus, this year the fashion communication students even developed an iPhone application, a first for the event that will enhance the guests’ experience.

“That in itself is going to provide tremendous opportunities for next year’s group to take this as sort of a jumping off point,” Ott says.

For its second year in a row, the show will be held at the MAC and is expected to attract more than 2,500 people.

Half of the arena will be reconstructed for the runway portion of the event and the other half will serve as a home for the exhibit, the first time both will be in the same area.

Ott stresses that Mass Exodus isn’t just about the runway or exhibit show, but about branding and creating an audience experience.

“This isn’t just a fashion show,” Ott says. “It’s a fashion event, where our students are really challenging our audience to think of fashion differently.”

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on April 2, 2014.

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