“You Can’t Play Metal in a Pink Dress.” An Interview with Mares of Thrace

Mares of Thrace are a two-piece metal band hailing from Calgary, Alberta. No novices, band members Thérèse Lanz and Stef MacKichan have been playing extremely heavy music together for nearly ten years, finding their roots in riot grrrl punk. Besides being phenomenal players in their field, they are also feminist minded and fashion conscious women who quite literally know how to rock pink. Mares of Thrace and Jenna Wornette caught up for beers on a patio and vintage shopping in the Annex to chat about fashion, subculture, and sexism.

Who or what inspires your style?
Thérèse: I really like Victorian stuff and a lot of Japanese street fashion, even though it’s one of those things I admire in theory but would never ever wear in a million years. There is a pretty big gap between my fashion theoretically and my fashion in practice. There are things that make the aesthetic part of my brain hum, but I know that it’s always going to come down to jeans and a t-shirt, because I’m constantly moving heavy stuff, and being in filthy dirty places. I really like DIY fashion – it’s kind of my financial Achilles heel. If these things were on a rack in any other store at the mall I would never shell out this much money for them, but here it’s someone’s art! I have a tradition that every time I come to Toronto on tour I try and find a DIY garment and buy it as a souvenir.

Stef: Honestly, I never thought I would do an interview about fashion in a million years! What guides my fashion sense is cost and being a drummer. Everything needs to be comfortable, loose fitting and inexpensive.

Is there a difference between what you wear on stage and the rest of the time?
Thérèse: It depends on the occasion. I mean, at the inception of this music act, we sort of adopted the dress as reclaiming traditional femininity; in the name of strength and competence and being empowered. I’ve heard people say stuff like, “oh that band makes this band sound like they wear skirts,” when talking about a heavy band, implying that this then makes this band seem lame and weak. So we were like “fuck that we’re going to be heavy AND wear skirts!” So in a way we wanted to re-appropriate the dress and the frilly skirt as an iconic thing but unfortunately that doesn’t always work out in practice.

Stef: I tried to wear bows for awhile every time we played on stage. I got pink drums. Just as a good ol’ “up yours.”

Thérèse: I once heard someone say “she can’t play metal in a pink dress,” and as soon as I heard that, I knew that I was going to wear a pink dress as often as I could. On tours sometimes when you’re tired and feeling a little worn down it’s hard to want to spruce yourself up.
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Crushing on Myles Sexton

Some people arrive on the scene; others explode. Originally hailing from Brooklyn, Halifax, model, photographer, designer and make-up artist Myles Sexton isn’t content doing just one thing. Along with redefining what it means to be a male model, he helps organize the monthly club nights called Sodom and is working on his own line of accessories. And, yes, that is his real name.

How did you dress in high school?

For the first year of high school I was a lost soul when it came to fashion. Then I adapted the emo-punk look. Lots of skin tight clothes and girls’ pants. Oh, and I can’t forget my Converse shoes where one foot would be black and the other would be the color matching my sweater. I really battled with trying to fit in and felt like I could only dress one way. There is so much pressure in high school for kids to look a way so they can be in a clique of kids who only buy from certain stores. It’s a freaking fashion jungle!

Describe the first time you wore make-up.

My parents had gone out for the day. I snuck into my mother’s make up bag and started applying eyeliner. Before I could even finish my lower water line I heard the door open. My parents had come home. So, I freaked out, turned on the shower to disguise what I was doing and put nail polish remover on a Q-tip and tried to get it off. I ended up burning the skin around my eye. When my mother asked about it, I told her I was scrubbing in the shower and the face cloth chafed my eyes.

The next day she gave me her concealer to hide the burn. I will never forget the moment of applying the concealer under my eye. By the time I was done the concealer was all over my entire face. I looked at myself in the mirror and for the first time felt beautiful. My teenage acne was no longer noticeable, my cheeks no longer red. I finally looked the way I already thought of myself. Since then I’ve seen make-up not as a means of concealing, but as a way of unleashing the real you.

Why did you want to become a model?

I am on a mission. I am not your typical beauty. I don’t have killer pecs or lumberjack arms. I am often mistaken for a lesbian. Growing up I always wished I had an idol to look up to. I found people who were small parts of who I wanted to be but never the whole package. I know I am not alone on this earth. I am sure there are men out there who feel the same way I do. So I started modeling so that I could be the man I wish existed when I was a child, who can wear make-up and be proud, and dress in whatever he feels like. Dress without gender! That is why I wanted to be a model.
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Crushing on Robber

Robber opened its white-washed doors in April of 2009, and since then has been clothing Queen Street West in the frocks of Australian label Lover and the shoes of London’s F-Troupe (which just so happen to make a lovely cameo in Issue 12’s Bibliophilles photoshoot). Busy bringing emerging designers — from Seattle to Las Vegas — here to Toronto, co-owner Erin takes the time to talk to WORN about wedding attire, Philip Sparks, and Hamilton.

What was your first favourite outfit as a kid?
A dress I wore to my dad’s wedding when I was eight years old. I think it was the first time I got to choose my own special occasion outfit, and I really went for it — it was a white tank dress with a blue, green, and pink plaid tiered skirt, and bows in the same plaid all over the front. I found a photo from that day recently and I still think I looked great!

Tell me the story of how Robber came to be.
I was unhappy at my old job in Vancouver. I started talking to my roommate Robin about it and we came up with the idea of opening a store together. I was also thinking of moving back to Toronto and the kind of shop we would want didn’t really exist yet here, so it seemed perfect. We had both worked in fashion in the past and Robin has an MBA, which made the business side much easier — I definitely couldn’t have done any of that part on my own!

Do you think shopping independent is important?
Yes. I’m from a small town and that’s the kind of shopping I’m used to anyway, so I’m glad we can help create that same sense of community in our area of the city. I love that I can get everything I need within a few blocks of my house, and that most of it will be unique and different from what you’d get somewhere else. And when you shop at an independent business you’re also supporting all the designers, artists, writers, etc. that they carry, and helping ensure they are paid fairly for their work and can continue with their craft. I’m not a total hippie, and of course I still shop at big-box stores, but I certainly aspire not to.
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Crushing on Yuli Sato

Montrealer Yuli Sato spends her time creating photographs of unseen other worlds with an assortment of thrifted vintage cameras. Yuli studies at Concordia University. Her photos are haunting but beautiful, often taking place in deserted snowy forests, upon grassy hilltops, or in empty indoor swimming pools. Yuli talks to WORN about butterfly clips, school uniforms and chai lattes.

What’s the last fashion publication you read?
Lula, but I haven’t actually looked through it thoroughly yet even though I got it a few months ago. I love the overall aesthetic; they’re not as concerned with showing the clothes in a commercial way and its general mood lures me in. I also dig the interviews.

How has your style changed since elementary school?
Quite a bit. I grew up in the ’90s, so I was obsessed with wearing those woven plastic necklaces. Platform sneakers and butterfly clips were also big for me. I think I was a little too young to really get the full effect of the ’90s, but my sister is three years older and was such a ’90s teen – it was so fantastic. She rocked bell-bottom jeans, cropped tanks and flannel.

I’ve been trying to move toward a more classic look lately, so I only buy things I know I will like in five or ten years, as opposed to something super trendy. If I ever feel like dressing a little crazy, I’ll shop at a thrift store so I don’t feel guilty if I don’t end up liking things in the long run. I just bought an amazing Navajo print blazer, a floral maxi dress, black maxi skirt, and a few giant men’s sweaters at Goodwill for less than $20.

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