Of Makeup and X-Men: The Mystique of Gordon Smith

Sixty year old Gordon Smith looks like an ordinary aging man; he is tall and thin, his hair and beard long since faded to white. Yet anyone who knows superheroes, or makeup for that matter, knows Smith is so much more than he appears to be. A Canadian legend, Gordon Smith is the makeup master that brought the fictional characters of X-men to life.

The X-men Master: Gordon Smith exhibition at the TIFF Bell Lightbox takes up the near-impossible task of doing Smith’s special effects makeup justice. The exhibit showcases designs from seven X-men characters, “making of”-style videos and legendary items from Smith’s personal collection.

Entering the exhibition centre, a small room filled with glass cases and sketch-lined walls, the most visible piece is, of course, Smith’s famed makeup chair. A minty green leather, with stains, rips, and creases. This is the legendary chair in which Rebecca Romijn became Mystique after 10 hours of labour and makeup. It is the chair that held Hugh Jackman and Tyler Mane as they became bigger, hairier, and scarier; when they finally stood up, they were transformed from men into Wolverine and Sabretooth. Celebrities sat down in it one by one, and almost magically, they became more than just actors; they became living, breathing comic book characters.
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Three Short (and One Longer) Reviews About Documentaries

We loved Bill Cunningham: New York. We are ridiculously excited for the Advanced Style film. However, we don’t limit ourselves to only critically watching documentaries explicitly about fashion. When Toronto’s Hot Docs fest rolled around a few months ago, the Wornettes took to the theatres. We noticed that there were documentaries on a variety of subjects in which either clothing played an integral role to the subject being explored, or the underbellies of parts of the fashion industry were exposed. Here are a few short reviews—and one longer one—about docs that got us thinking.

She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column
Dir. Kevin Hegge (2012)

Hegge combines present day interviews and archival footage to tell the story of the most badass lady fronted art-punk band Toronto has ever seen: Fifth Column. For those not familiar with the post-punk, pseudo psych group that featured a cast of rotating musicians, as well as three solid members (GB Jones, Caroline Azar, and Beverly Breckenridge), they fused art, music, and zines to create a style that was truly their own. Fifth Column came before riot grrrl, and Kathleen Hanna speaks in the film about what an inspiration the band was to her. Kathleen may have written “slut” on herself, but Fifth Column first insisted that “All Women Are Bitches.” Band members GB and Caroline explain in the film their philosophies on fashion: the faker, the better. The bigger the hair, the heavier the make-up, the more “ladylike” you were. As Judith Butler says, all gender is drag, and the girls in Fifth Column seem to really understand this. // Jenna Danchuk

GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling
Dir. Brett Whitcomb (2012)

Flower-adorned, dressed in a sequin bikini, and riding in on a horse. No, this woman is not on the beach—she is entering the wrestling ring. GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling tells the story of the first all-female wrestling program that aired from 1986 to 1990. Each actress turned wrestler had a persona assigned to her and a dazzling ensemble to match: Americana was decked in stars and stripes and Amy the Father’s Daughter in a crop gingham top, Daisy Duke shorts, and pigtails. They were expected to stay in role 24/7 and developed their character by adding to their original costumes with corsets, accessories, fake accents, and even live animals to reflect their own personal style. When a wrestler of GLOW slipped on her leopard gloves or crimson cape, she took on a persona that gave her presence, confidence, and the strength to dropkick and put her opponent in a nelson hold, and look glamorous while doing it. // Jill Heintzman

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London Party Fashion in the Noughties

Book Report on "New Club Kids"

My first indication of what I was in for when I picked up New Club Kids came from the book’s cover. A young woman gazed out from beneath thick, black eyelashes, wearing a white jumpsuit, a blue plastic choker, and what appeared to be a bejewelled chinstrap. I wasn’t sure what sort of party would have bejewelled chinstraps as part of its dress code, but I wanted to be invited.

New Club Kids: London Party Fashion in the Noughties starts by explaining how London’s club scene has evolved over the course of several decades, beginning when youth of the ’70s became bored with the dominant punk fashions and began to search for something a little different. Beginning with David Bowie-inspired nights at clubs, an entire subculture of unlikely party style emerged. These teens became known as the New Romantics, but they also had well-known sub-groups, and many of them—like Princess Julia, who partied with the likes of Marc Almond and Boy George—received attention from the media and gained fame because of their style, or because of their music, or simply because they were there.

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The Ties (And Sweaters) That Bind

My dad is not a modern, clothing-coveting man. He doesn’t see the point in spending money on such frivolous things and hasn’t worn a tie in almost a decade. He avoids buying new garments with the stubbornness of a child, and when he does purchase them, he always insists they remain pressed, clean, and pristine, ultimately helping him avoid shopping for longer periods of time. His classic look is a black or navy crew-neck sweater, and dark-washed jeans or corduroys. My stylish mother often totes home fashionable new things for him to don, which he stashes deep in his closet and refuses to wear.

Ever the money-saver, he always tries his hardest to return the things my mother buys for him, but he isn’t always able to do so in time. The outfits he hasn’t managed to get a full refund for have slowly accumulated in my parents’ closet, hanging there mournfully, practically shining underneath the thin layer of dust that has settled on them.

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