Textile artists from the Sunshine Coast and beyond are transforming the world of fashion, with original designs made from repurposed fabrics due to be modelled on a purpose-built runway this weekend.
The Ripped Open Anti-Fashion Cabaret was the brainchild of Sandy Buck, the community arts coordinator of Deer Crossing the Art Farm. The farm is a Gibsons-based arts organization that hosts workshops and productions.
The Ripped Open event on Jan. 28 will blend musical performance, poetry and a showcase of custom-made “wearable art,” according to Buck.
Buck’s background in clothing design spans three decades. She began sewing when she was eight and has created costumes for the television and theatre industries.
In 2022, she organized a private show titled Scattered Pieces as a rebuttal to commercial fashion’s costly and narrow view of beauty. Buck’s garments also stitched together elements of her Métis heritage, aiming for a definition of fashion that is sensitive to cultural and physical diversity.
“The fashion industry is so slow to catch up,” said Buck, “and it’s really hard on people’s looks, especially women. Women are beautiful in all sizes, and we don’t see that in our modern television programming. And Scattered Pieces is the name that just stuck because of my lineage, my own Indigeneity that was completely hidden and scattered.”
Last October, Buck met 21-year-old Ren Droucker, a Vancouver-based designer. Droucker was wearing a denim jacket adorned with a wing shaped from an array of safety pins. The sequel to Scattered Pieces was born.
In addition to one-of-a-kind apparel by Droucker and Buck, the Ripped Open cabaret will feature designs by Willow Rody, an 18-year-old Sunshine Coast artist.
“Willow expresses herself through drawings and paintings, and I asked her to create some pieces,” said Buck. “I’m hoping that [the cabaret] will continue so that it’s not just my work, but the work of youth and an expression of all people that can come forward.”
The event will also include a reading by Chad Hershler of a short story composed by Buck, and music and poetry by Hazel Bell-Koski, Sarah Noni, Arista Hawkes and Kelsey O’Toole.
A theme of sacred femininity links the contributions, Buck explained. Her viewing of contemporary social media left her with a sensation of being riven and ruptured. Rather than be paralyzed by the feeling, she chose a dynamic path: restoring a connection with the Earth and its maternal nature.
“I said, let’s rip this [disempowerment and depression] open and go to the heart of it,” added Buck. “Fabric is a medium of expression, so let’s rip apart what doesn’t serve us. And I mean to do it in a really creative, fun way where kids are involved and families can come together and there’s song and dance.”
Many of the repurposed textiles incorporate fabrics donated to the Art Farm by shíshálh Elder Xwu’p’a’lich (Barbara Higgins), who passed away last November.
The cabaret will take place at the C3 strength and conditioning gym in Gibsons. Buck was attracted by the facility’s industrial appearance, a muscular counterpoint to the supple touch of textiles. It also offered space for a pop-up shop that will invite visitors to browse after the fashion show.
The Ripped Open Anti-Fashion Cabaret takes place on Sunday, Jan. 28 from 3 to 6 p.m. Details and tickets are available at deercrossingtheartfarm.org/ripped-open.