Vogue Charity Fashion Show tells a brief history of time

Fashion show provides optimistic vision for the future 

Nodabe Agbapu and Wajeeha Anwar at the annual Vogue Charity Fashion show.  

Using fashion to tell the history of humanity seems unorthodox, but it made perfect sense in this year’s Vogue Charity Fashion Show: Tempora Mantura (VCFS).

The 22nd annual show, running from Feb. 28 to Mar. 2, had a fundraising goal of $60,000 to donate to the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston (SACK). The show sold around 85 per cent of its tickets, with two of the three nights sold out. The ambitious goal exceeds the show’s largest donation to date; last year’s Visionaries show raised $55,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).  

After watching the show for the first time on closing night, co-presidents Anushka Garde and Julianna Nemeth told The Journal “it was flawless.”

“We got to watch it [closing night] and neither of us have seen the show, so we got to sit in the audience,” Nemeth said. “Our showing was amazing—we were blown away.”

Unlike last year’s show, which offered eight independent scenes, Tempora told one narrative from start to finish. Modeled after the Latin phrase Tempora Mutantur, meaning “the times change and we change with them,” this year’s show moved from the creation of the universe to a glimpse of the future.

The first scene, Stargazing, introduced a time before any life existed. It opened with a musical performance of John Mayer’s “In Your Atmosphere” by Adam Hunter and Matt Léger. Next came Flora, a ballet number showcasing a vibrant clothing line with models dressed in shades of green, gold, pink, and white.

In contrast to the gentleness of Flora, Fauna depicted the wildness of animal life evolving and flourishing. Hip-hop dancers donned camo cargo pants to dance to a mashup of A$AP Ferg, Kanye, and Nicki Manaj’s infamous“Monster.”

Rudimentary Innovation, the next scene, introduces humanity through society-defining inventions: paper, fire, electricity. Models dressed in geometrically designed outfits; everything had sharp angles, circles or squares printed in colours straight out of a box of Crayola Crayons.  

Finally, cast members turned up the heat with a seductive men’s dance number. However, this year, the Vogue tradition dance took a new turn.

By way of introduction, the show projected a video on screen of several male cast and crew members discussing their insecurities, and broadcasting their vulnerabilities. According to the co-presidents, this was influenced by SACK and was meant to address toxic masculinity and promote a culture of consent.

“The song we used [at the beginning] was [John Legend and André 3000’s ‘Green Light’]’” Garde said. “It’s more of that giving versus taking culture that we were really trying to get out there.”

Broadcasting this message advocates for a culture of consent for men and women alike.

In VCFS’s annual charity video, which reached 20,000 viewers, a sexual assault survivor told her story on camera to further show the impact on survivors that SACK supports.

“It’s really easy to kind of brush sexual violence away as something that happens to other people,” Nemeth said. “It’s happening now. It’s happening to people you know. It’s happening to people you love, and it may have happened to you.”

Keeping with the theme of consent, for the lingerie scene, models weaved boldly back and forth to a cover of Ella Eyre’s “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off,” to further promoting a safe environment.

The final scenes looked ahead to the future. Faces of the Future showed models dressed in black, white, and silver outfits, made entirely of glitter, leather and skin. One model wore wings, while another wore what looked like a turtle shell, begging the question of what’s next for humanity.

In the Coexistence scene, the cast donned outfits from previous scenes, coming together in one encompassing piece of choreography. The resolution, according to Nemeth, provides a vision of the future.

“All of these different stories that we’ve shown throughout have come together,” she said. “We can only actually have harmony if we learn to balance all of these things together instead of dominating one.”

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