The 25th CAISA Fashion Show took the stage at downtown London’s Centennial Hall for the first time in four years on Saturday night, raising a total of $18,000 for Children’s Health Foundation’s maternal and infant lifestyle health research.
The theme of the show was “istoria,” meaning story, in Greek. It followed the two main models — Joyce Oh, a second-year kinesiology student and Sunday Ajak, a fifth-year social justice and sociology student and incoming student council president — portraying siblings going through five distinct stages of life.
The show was split into five scenes that represented childhood, teenhood, young adulthood, adulthood and retirement. Designs for each scene varied to reflect the styles of the five fashion capitals of the world and five styles of dress — sports, casual, semi formal, lingerie and formal.
“We included character development at the forefront, because after the pandemic everybody's kind of in this state of stillness,” said creative director and fourth-year management and organizational studies student Melissa Wen. “We just really want to break through that.”
As the lights dimmed, the audience’s anticipation was palpable.
Sounds of childhood and an upbeat soundtrack filled the hall in the show’s first scene: sports. Inspired by fashion in Tokyo, models moved to the energy of the beat and wore colourful, vintage sportswear. The playfulness of the two main models came through handshakes, handstands and street dance-battle style choreography.
In the second scene, with casual clothes, models strutted the runway in streetwear inspired by New York City. The scene’s reliance on subversive basics gave way to defiant, rebellious energy, portraying the two main character’s transition into adolescence.
Across each scene and between group choreography, models walked one-by-one, striking poses that corresponded to their scenes, as the crowd showed their resounding appreciation for each.
Influenced by fashion in London, the semi-formal scene saw models adorned in vintage ties, oversized blazers, silk blouses, trousers and trench coats. The scene paid homage to office wear throughout the 20th century, elevated by the clothing’s jewel tones. The LED screen behind the stage played B-roll of cityscapes and downtown buildings, with daytime quickly transitioning into the night.
Models wore lingerie in the fourth scene, inspired by Milan. Exuding confidence and power, the models walked the stage and performed seductive choreography to the Weeknd’s music, under a blanket of red lighting.
In the final scene, formal wear, models wore silk midi dresses and tuxedos. Influenced by Paris, the models’ poise and delicate movements enchanted the audience as they waltzed across the stage.
After the formal scene closed, the two siblings remained on stage to reminisce on each stage of their “life,” allowing the audience to quickly re-live the show they’d just watched.
The audience erupted, making it clear the significance of this year’s show was not lost on them. To those involved behind the scenes, the show was symbolic — not just of their months of hard work, but those who worked in years impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I feel like I'm not only carrying the weight and the feelings and emotions of two creative directors, but the creative directors of all the shows that came before us,” said Janice Baek, creative director and third year medical sciences student. “Words can't describe how I feel right now.”
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