OMG Swap

Maybe it’s the eco-fashion movement, maybe it’s the resurrection of vintage and the appreciation of thrift clothes. There’s definitely an underlying rejection of consumerism somewhere here, coupled by socially-conscious motives. In any case, we are all witnessing a surge of the greatest clothing-related event: clothing swaps. Toronto has its own enthusiastically-titled OMG SWAP, to which over 500 people participated in during their last swap.

The next OMG SWAP is coming up this Sunday, October 10th at noon till 6 p.m. at Mercer Union.

Organizer Xenia Benivolski is an artist who cares about old clothes in a nostalgic sense, but right now she’s doing this for Sistering, a resource supporting homeless, marginalized, and low income women in Toronto. The leftover clothes will be donated to them.

All you need to do to participate is:

- Come to Mercer Union with clothes you no longer want, but are not stained, ripped, smelly or otherwise ugly.
- Donate $5.
- Take all you can carry.

There will be snacks, drinks, mirrors and music, and – most amazingly – a seamstress to make clothes that aren’t yours fit like they are.

Grab those garbage bags and start packing up clothes that are just taking up closet space!

text by Marsya Maharani
photography by Liana Schmidt

Book Review: Dress Behind Bars

The subject of prison clothing never really enters my mind, the image of a man in a black and white striped suit and some screenshots of A Man Escaped being the only images it conjures. Dress Behind Bars made me question why I had never given the subject a second thought. Juliet Ash discusses its development in detail, framing the subject in contemporary thought, political and social reforms and financial restraints, making the subject compelling by putting it in context.

Apparently, my lack of knowledge on prison clothing is understandable, given that the image of the striped prison uniform is in itself misleading. The black and white striped uniform was abolished by 1914 in most American prisons. Regardless, early American films adopted this notorious uniform into the cinematic vocabulary as a shorthand to depict criminals. Some examples are Charlie Chaplin’s The Adventurer (1917) and Buster Keaton’s Convict 13 (1920). The resultant fictional stereotype was that of the “heroic underdog humiliated by clothing.”
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WORN Cinema Society: Io Sono L’amore (I am Love)

It all started with beige. Beige in the grandiose dining room of the Recchi villa, beige in Emma’s knit sweater and khakis as she prepares for her father-in-law’s birthday dinner. When the guests arrive, Emma changes into a conservative rich purple dress of a 1940s silhouette, her hair down a la Grace Kelly. She is silent as the men are talking business and speaks only to play the part of supportive mother. The wardrobe that follows is a range of light gray-blues and whites, worn as Emma performs her daily errands.

I have adored Tilda Swinton ever since I saw Orlando (Sally Potter, 1992) – mainly because of the film’s total dependence on costumes to denote its narrative progression. In Io Sono L’amore (Luca Guadagnino, 2009), costume plays a similar role and Swinton succeeds in wearing them to enhance, not distract, her character development.

Clad exclusively in Jil Sander, Swinton plays Emma Recchi, a porcelain-clean trophy wife of an Italian textile tycoon and a loving mother of two. She spends her days picking up laundry and visiting her husband at his office. Io Sono L’amore speaks of the repression of individuality within the shackles of rituals and order.

The dialogue is minimal and the acting style is bare, but these are compensated by a rich compilation of stylistic elements. John Adams’s operatic score voices the feelings of anger and betrayal that are never properly expressed. The cinematography fluctuates between blurry and bleached out (symbolizing ecstasy) and detailed and revealing (truth). The colours are sometimes muted, sometimes incredibly vibrant. These changes highlight the stages of Swinton’s character development.

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Marsya Wornette

I am an Eternal Intern Extraordinaire. My volunteer career began in tenth grade, one Fall/Winter season in a Toronto Fashion Week, and it is still going strong. I am the Curator/Director of Freedom Clothing Collective, (a non-profit cooperative run by volunteers to support local emerging artists, designers, and musicians) and an assistant in research and archival work at the Textiles and Costumes division of the Royal Ontario Museum.

How do I survive in life (read: afford awesome clothes)? Well, that’s where my marketable Masters of Creative Problem Solving shows its worth – I’ve got Mom and Dad’s old clothes (Mom being the ultimate fashion icon and dad being the skinny, geeky artist type), my grandmother’s old jewelry (she made a career out of diamonds), my boyfriend’s closet (being his stylist is part of my vocation to volunteer), thrift hunts, garage sale finds, and various upcycled garments.

The history of clothing and the possibility of memories woven into garments never fail to amuse me. When you wear clothes, you tell people stories. I’m interested in sharing the tales, myths and legends behind clothes.

Current Inspirations

Fashion Is My Muse
This is a great fashion blog that has a historical perspective. A fresh alternative to random musings of tween fashionistas, that’s for sure! The blogger, Ingrid Mida, is always involved with the projects of Friends of Textiles and Costumes at the Royal Ontario Museum. She also has a new blog that very much appeals to my interest in the memories in garments.

Stil in Berlin
Even though I was sick and constantly cold when I was visiting Berlin, I loved it because everyone’s style was elaborately stylish and structurally genius. I got the same feeling from this blog. They also have a section called “At Home” where they feature inspiring individuals in their respective homes. For those who also love the architecture in Berlin, there is Stillos in Berlin.

Acne Paper
Well, obviously the actual magazine itself is better, but they have provided some beautiful pages here too. And here.

A resource on poetry and art by established and emerging artists! This chapter is dedicated to avant-garde films – all available for streaming. It’s for those days when a season at Cinematheque Ontario has just ended and we feel just too cool for surfthechannel.

Old Jews Telling Jokes
This really is an inspiration! It induces the kind of uncontrollable laughter that releases that stress in your brain so that you may resume creating fantastic things.