I decided to skip class. I paired the essential black tights with a patterned dress, leather jacket, scarf and my beloved studded booties for an evening at the Bata Shoe Museum. Naturally, I arrived early and braced myself for the opportunity to run into some of Toronto’s most fashionable faces (those who aren’t currently in Paris at least). As I descended the staircase I immediately felt ridiculous for my previous anxiety. The lady at reception gladly took my student card (“Another Ryerson student!”). I knew the list of notable names in the room had to be low if she seemed so excited to see me. There was David Livingstone, guest lecturer for the evening, along with a mixed bag of students and costume society ladies.
David Livingstone briefly described how he fell into fashion and who influenced him along the way. Chanel biographer Edmonde Charles-Roux and fashion journalist Kennedy Fraser reminded him how important it is to have a historical perspective of fashion.
Livingstone’s work caters to the intellectual’s view of fashion. He studies obscure aspects of pop culture and how they end up on the runway. Unfortunately, he’s a less than captivating speaker who meandered from point to point and paused along the way. He spoke of the two sides of the fashion industry: the artistes and the BS.
Q&A led to some more interesting opinions. He is disappointed by the “ghettoization” of men’s fashion – the way fashion is depicted in the media and advertising as a woman’s area of interest. He wouldn’t want Robin Kay’s job (head of the Fashion Design Council of Canada). Finally, he doesn’t think that Toronto’s LG Fashion Week is all that exciting. Torontonians certainly shouldn’t expect or aspire to have Anna Wintour show up in the front row. Livingstone believes that not every city can be named a fashion capital, and that’s what makes the current capitals so buzz-worthy. Paris, London, New York, Milan.
Though I will continue to read and admire Livingstone’s work, his speaking skills only reminded me that there are definitely some strange characters in the fashion industry. I promised myself I’d stick to his writing, and maybe going to class. With that I hurried back toward the subway. Besides, I had penciled in thirty minutes with one of my favourite guilty pleasures, MTV’s The City. If I wasn’t in a fashion capital, the least I could do was catch a glimpse of it in a so-called reality.