“Fashionality” is a newly coined term that refers to the visual culture and semiotics of dress and adornment. Combining the words “fashion,” “personality,” and “nationality,” it suggests the interplay between clothing, identity and culture. Reflecting wide geographic and cultural diversity, this exhibition focuses upon the ways in which the concerns, identities and aesthetics of those living in Canada are expressed, deconstructed and reconfigured through the idiom of dress.

This blog records exhibition-related information, as well as work and events related to artists appearing in the show.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

This Just In . . .

Fashionality has been over for two months, but this late review just came in -- clearly from a couple who really enjoyed the show. Thank you Rich and Annie!


Cathy Daley, Untitled. Pastel on vellum, 2012. 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Fashionality Farewell

Fashionality closes at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection today. It's been an amazing show, and response has been fantastic!  How wonderful to have so many incredible artists together in one place -- and a place that lends itself so well to the many themes of the exhibition.

Many, many thanks to all the awesomely talented artists, the supremely generous lenders, to the incredibly hard-working and gracious McMichael staff, and to the numerous, and highly enthusiastic visitors to the show. It's been a immensely creative, social, and educational experience, not to mention a delight to the heart and to the eye. 'Till next time!

Meryl McMaster, Caduceus, 2010. From the ongoing In-Between Worlds series. Digital C-print.
Copyright and collection of the artist. Courtesy of Katzman Kamen Gallery.

Canadian Art Feature

Canadian Art magazine's most recent e-update revisited the Fashionality Faces feature from the summer issue. The introduction reads: 
"The flamboyant exhibition Fashionality closes at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection this week. Find out more about its larger-than-life feel and its works by Kent Monkman, Camille Turner and others in this feature from our Summer 2012 issue." 
You can read the article here:


And check out the über Canadian Canoe Lake photo spread featuring artists Camille Turner (as Miss Canadiana) and Cathy Daley, with curator, Julia Pine, in the middle.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Going Bespoke

Have you been to Gallery Bespoke?  If not, you're in for a unique experience, described as "a showcase of home furnishings as high art." Open by appointment, it is the Logan Ave. studio of Toronto-based designer and artist Camal Pirbhai, and a place to view his conceptual works, along with collaborations with other artists. You can learn all about it, and about the artist, here:


Camal Pirbhai

Camal is also the creative genius behind Studio La Beauté, also located on Logan Ave in Toronto.  Here he works closely with architects and interior designers (locally and internationally) to produce uniquely crafted furnishings for high-end residential and luxury commercial projects. They are known for their artisanship and their meticulous care in creating exceptional draperies and window treatments.

You can learn more about this side of Camal's practice here:


and be sure to follow his excellent blog, put together by his assistant extraordinaire, Inyoung:


Camal Pirbhai, Untitled Branches, mixed media, 2009.

You may have seen this one of two extraordinary pieces by Camal in Fashionality. How beautiful is this?!

Miss Canadiana does Toronto International Film Festival

Fashionality artists Camal Pirbhai and Camille Turner have joined forces to collaborate on a project that responds to the star-studded celebrity culture of the Toronto International Film Festival where fantasy meets reality. Social media will announce the arrival of Miss Canadiana who will be seen during the festival making appearances in various locations. Pirbhai has used couturier techniques to create a series of sashes for the occasion and each day Miss Canadiana will be spotted wearing one of his fabulous creations. The responses of the public will be documented to reveal a portrait of the city during the festival.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

New Sweaters for Lost Boys

These tiny sweaters were knitted by volunteers and donated during the Fashionality exhibition, for Michèle Karch-Ackerman's The Sweaters, which is part is part of a nationally-touring installation ongoing since 2003, entitled The Lost Boys. It explores the loss of young lives during the First World War and in particular, the Newfoundland regiment who fought in the battle of Beaumont Hamel. It weaves together the story of James Barrie's Peter Pan with the stories of so many lives lost in the First World War, and expresses loss, remembrance and consolation.

The artist's intention is to knit or collect from volunteers 801 sweaters for each soldier from the Newfoundland regiment who fought in the battle of Beaumont Hamel. So far the project consists of approximately four hundred miniature hand-made and -dyed woollen sweaters knitted by the artist and an "army" of volunteers at knitting bees across Canada. The artist dyes the sweaters and hangs them on twig armatures for exhibition. Each volunteer adds a personal touch to the pattern, and each sweater takes on a life of its own. Sometimes special details are added (like a tiny toque, or a tag), and inside some of the sweaters, knitters sometimes hide devotional letters.

If you would like to contribute a sweater to the project, please contact fashionality2012@gmail.com for the pattern and instructions. Feel free to add a devotional letter to the soldiers, which you can tuck inside the sweater, where it will remain. Sweaters will be accepted until September 1, 2012. At right is one included by a recent contributor.

About the Battle of Beaumont Hamel
Beaumont-Hamel is a  commune in the Somme department in Picardy in northern France. During the First World War, Beaumont-Hamel was very close to the front lines and saw heavy combat, especially during the Battle of the Somme which was the largest Allied offensive of the entire war. July 1, 1916 was the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, and was a slaughter for the Allies. Total Allied casualties on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme were 57,470, of which 19,240 were fatal.
The 1st Newfoundland Regiment was one of the four battalions of the British 29th Division's 88th Brigade, and was virtually annihilated at the Battle of Beaumont Hamel. 733 of 801 men in the 1st Newfoundland Regiment were killed or wounded. In Newfoundland and Labrador, July 1 is Memorial Day to commemorate Newfoundland's heavy losses in the battle.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Planet IndigenUs Fashionality Feature Tour

Come join a special tour of Fashionality on Thursday, August 16th as part of the Planet IndigenUs Festival at Harbourfront Centre:


Here's all the info. you'll need to get there, from the McMichael programming department:

"Visit Planet IndigenUs at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre before hopping on the bus that departs at 12:30 p.m. to join Anna Stanisz, Assistant Curator, Education & Programs on a tour at the McMichael focusing on the works by Kent Monkman, KC Adams, Lori Blondeau, Dana Claxton, and Meryl McMaster, who are featured in this special exhibition. Spend an afternoon outside of the big city and be sure to enjoy a walk along the Humber river before your return bus trip."


Also in celebration of the festival, is another event, Saturday and Sunday, August 11 and 12
11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the Humber River Aboriginal Heritage Celebration. Check here for more information on this inspiring program: 


Fabulous Fashionality Fashion Fix on Film

More kudos from Jeanne Beker -- this time on video. Very nice "Fashion Fix" piece with an interview by McMichael Executive Director and CEO Victoria Dickenson: 


Fashionality quote of the day: "Makes my heart sing!"
- Victoria Dickenson

Etra D'Exras: Yurt Skirts and Little Green Dresses

Impossible to keep up with environmental fashionista extraordinaire, Nicole Dextras, these days. Don't miss the construction process of her astonishing "Yurt Skirt" unveiled on Canada Day at the McMichael, all documented on the gallery's Facebook page. Also, her "Little Green Dress Projekt," based on the four seasons, which features twenty-four "little green dresses," all made of organic materials using the measurements of, and inspired by the personalities of, real women. This will be part of the Earth Art Exhibit at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver. 

Leaf-o-Licious!  Petal-tastic!  See Nicole's blog, Extra D'Extras, to keep up with her amazingly energetic production: http://ndextras.wordpress.com/

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Stellar Review in the Toronto Star

This just in: a rave review of Fashionality by Canada's doyenne of fashion, Jeanne Beker, in conversation with McMichael CEO Victoria Dickenson. Well done, ladies!  The article also appeared in hard copy, in the Wednesday, June 20th edition of the Toronto Star (p E9). The word is out!


This seemed appropriate, somehow . . .  Jeanne Beker with some Canadian fashionistas.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Don't Miss Miss America at Centre Space

The Amazing Kent Monkman does it again in another show at Centre Space in Toronto:


The work shown here is one of the artist's latest, and is called Miss America.  Do I hear any votes for a duet with Miss Canadiana?

This awe-inspiring show is on until August 11th. 

Nicole Dextras: Artist in Residence

The McMichael is welcomes Fashionality artist Nicole Dextras, who is in residency at the gallery until July 1, 2012. Nicole will complete one of her astonishing Weedrobes eco-dress-performance-sculptures, which will be unveiled in a special performance at the McMichael's Canada Day ceremony.

More info about this Canada Day sartorial celebration, check here:

Best of luck on your residency, Nicole -- we know you'll do wonderful things!

A little someting Nicole threw together one afternoon :) 
From the Weedrobes series.

Delightful Exposure

The McMichael's fundraiser, Fashion as Art -- Exposed!  was a tremendous success. Based upon the theme of the relationship between art and dress/fashion, the main event was the celebration of the "Group of Seven" fashion designers, who were showcased in a fashion show. 

The McMichael crew did an magnificent job, and the show -- hosted by Fashion doyenne Jeanne Beker -- was stunning, with models showcasing the work of the designers to live "crazy classical" violin, and ending up standing in seven human-sized red picture frames.  Everything else was equally perfect, including a raffle for a beautiful Charles Pachter painting, delicious nibbles and drinks, and gorgeous decorations. 

Artists (from left) Barbara Pratt, Nicole Dextras, Camal Pirbhai,
Camille Turner and guest curator Julia Pine.

As you'll see in the pictures, a number of the Fashionality artists were there.  A wonderful night!

Here are some great photos from the FashionEcstacy blog:


You may need a Facebook account to access these, but here are the McMichael photos for the night, if you can:


Also check out the Perrier Society pages here:


And here's one featuring all the gorgeous glitterati:


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Art Encounter

Don't miss the upcoming Art Encounter at the McMichael on the 23rd of June. There will be a curator's "nature walk" through the exhibition focusing on work that intersects with the natural world, as well as a talk with Eco Artist Extraordinaire, Nicole Dextras. It's from 11:00 - 1:00 and $25, or $20 for members.  Hope to see you there!


Nicole Dextras, Icicle Slip. Colour photographs, 2011.

Jacques Payette at the Laurentides

Congratulations to Jacques Payette for another major retrospective of his work: this time at the Musee d'Art Contemporain des Laurentides.  No need to say that it will be a beautiful show. 


Here's one of Jacques' gorgeous works in Fashionality, entitled Dans des décors inachevés. Fustian and encaustic on canvas, 2003. Collection of the artist, Montreal.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Who's in Canadian Art?

We are!  Check out the Summer edition of Canadian Art Magazine, pages 56 - 57, for a short piece about the show, and a very fun photo of the Fashionality curator (yours truly), with the amazing Cathy Daley and Miss Canadiana. Warning: contains supermodels.

Cover of the Summer 2012 issue of <em>Canadian Art</em> featuring Jeff Wall's <em>Boy falls from tree</em>

Time to Expose Yourself (to art and fashion).

This weekend it is: Fashion as Art -- Exposed!  A fantastic fundraiser at the McMichael featuring fine art fashionistas of the finest feathers . . .

Jeanne Beker hosting, cocktails and bling, the Group of Seven fashion designers extraordinaire, and glamour galore. Yes, you have died and gone to heaven.  Clearly -- you need to be there.  Here are the deets -- and be sure to note the shuttle bus service for the evening. Oooh la la!!



Carleton University Magazine

Yes, one day this curator will learn to speak to the press without hiccupping or guffawing.  But -- what can I say, Kent Monkman has a wicked sense of humour -- in addition to his razor-sharp abilities at cultural critique. The following is an article from Carleton University Magazine, the summer edition. The hard copy of the article also has images of works by Lori Blondeau (COSMOSQUAW, 1996), and Mary Wong (from her Yellow Apparel series, 2004 - present).


Mary Wong. Peformance still (with model) from Yellow Apparel project, 2004 - present.

Fashionable Exposure

A very fine mention on Stephen Weir's blog about the Fashion as Art -- Exposed! event coming up this Saturday. 

And a work by D'Arcy Moses for the event. Wonderful piece!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Three artists speak about their work.

Check out this video of three artists speaking about their work in Fashionality: Farheen HaQ, Barb Hunt and Barbara Pratt. Beautiful!


Farheen HaQ.  Stills from Endless Tether. 3-channel video installation, 7 min 17 sec loop, 2005.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Blue Duets Blog Review

Nice, thoughtful review of the show in this Blue Duets blog:


Artists Michèle Karch-Ackerman and Barbara Pratt standing in front of Karch-Ackerman's The Lost Boys, May 13, 2012.  Photograph by Janine Frenken.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Tandem Magazine

Nice article on the show in Tandem online magazine:


Tandem features this piece by Jana Sterbak: Distraction (detail), organza,
tweed, human hair, wood, glass, text, photographs, 1992.
Collection Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal.

Miss Canadiana Wants YOU

To come to her tea party this Sunday. 

Who needs Uncle Sam when you can have tea with Miss C?

Don't miss the Opening Celebration this Mother's Day for Fashionality: Dress and Identity in Contemporary Canadian Art.

Tours, meet-and-greet with several of the artists, roses, speeches, fantastic artwork, and a tea party with performance artist Camille Turner. 

Check out the events here: 

Hope to see you there!  (And so does Miss Canadiana.)

Above is Camille Turner, Miss Canadiana: The Homecoming Tour (detail), mixed media installation from the Red, White and Beautiful Tour, 2002 - present.  Collection of the artist.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Barb Hunt's "Steel Dresses" at De Luca Gallery

Don't miss Barb Hunt's upcoming show, Steel Dresses, at De Luca Art Gallery, May 12th to June 16th.

It's at 217 Avenue Road, Toronto


The opening reception is on Saturday, May 12 from 4:00 to 9:00 pm, and YOU are invited.

This is Barb Hunt's famous Root Dress, on display in Fashionality,
but all the works from her Steel Dresses series are equally as beautiful.

Plasma-arc cut steel, 1994. Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; acquired with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Acquisition Assistance Program/Oeuvre
achetée avec l’aide du programme d’aide aux acquisitions du Conseil des Arts du
Canada and with funds from The Winnipeg Art Gallery Foundation Inc.

York Region Arts Council Tour with Marilyn Brooks

Looks like the York Region Arts Council has teamed up with iconic Canadian fashion designer Marilyn Brooks for a tour on June 9th. Sounds like a great way to spend the afternoon.  Here's the info:


Marilyn Brooks

Fashionality E-Flyer: Please pass it on!

The link below is for our beautiful Fashionality E-Flyer.  Please send it everyone you know, and everyone you don't know. You wouldn't want them to miss the show, would you?


Beyond Buckskin

Beyond Bucksin is a blog by Turtle Mountain Chippewa scholar, Jessica R. Metcalfe. In it she looks at the creation and signification of Native American fashion. See her feature on Fashionality, and check out the rest of this inspiring blog here:


This work by Kent Monkman, entitled High-heeled Moccasins. Machine loomed beads on vinyl shoes, 2007. Collection of the artist. One of several accessories worn by the artist's alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, for various performances.

Jane Eccles "Memory Dress" Commissions

Jane Eccles, whose "The Dress Project" is featured in Fashionality, is now taking commissions for paintings of what she calls "Memory Dresses." If you are interested in one of these beautiful works, please read the following:
The exhibition "Overlap" at the Station Gallery in Whitby in 2011 opened up my work to a
wide audience. Since the close of the show I have been accepting commissions to paint memory dress paintings. Others who have stored garments and would like to realise these dresses in paintings can contact my studio for a commissioned dress painting. Large works are 36" x 48" and small works are 24" x 36" painted in acrylic on canvas. I will also record the story behind the dress and also accept an image of the original owner for future reference. Cost upon request.

You can contact Jane Eccles at 905-623-9458 or eccles@sympatico.ca

This is a work similar to those in Fashionality
by Jane Eccles, called Carolyn's Dress. Acrylic on canvas.

Sovereign Acts

The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto is currently showing a small but superb show called Sovereign Acts. Curated by Wanda Nanibush, it features work by several First Nations artists, including Lori Blondeau, who created the equally small but superb COSMOSQUAW piece on display in Fashionality. The show is highly recommended.



This is a work in Fashionality by Lori Blondeau, entitled COSMOSQUAW.
Duratrans backlit photograph, 1996.
John Cook collection.

Weedrobes Video

In case you can't make it to the show soon enough to see this, here's a small-screen sneak preview of Nicole Dextras' gorgeous Weedrobes video. It plays continuously in Gallery 12 next to three of Dextras' photographs. 


Nicole Dextras, Mobile Garden Dress. Detail of performance/installation, 2011.

Canadian Monument #2

Great short video documenting the installation of Janet Morton's Canadian Monument #2.  48 seconds of the biggest shirt you will ever see:


And here it is, after the installation, with one of the McMichael's lovely guards. 
And yes, the label does say Xtra Large.

Janet Morton, Canadian Monument #2. Hand screened red flannel
 and mixed media 1994. Courtesy of Paul Petro Contemporary Art. 

McMichael on Facebook

Don't forget to "like" the McMichael Canadian Art Collection on Facebook!  And when you do, check out the Fashionality posts, as well as the video of Canadian artist extraordinaire Charles Pachter talking to McMichael trustee Diane Wilson about the show and the upcoming fundraiser, "Fashion as Art -- Exposed!"


A certain someone who likes the show.

Fashionality in Arabella Magazine

Check out the beautifully illustrated article in the just-out summer edition of the lush Canadian arts magazine Arabella. This isn't the full article, but still worth a peek:


Among others, the article features the image above, which is one of five frames from Dana Claxton's Onto the Redroad. Lightjet C-print, 2007. Collection of John Cook.