Starting off the day on Tuesday, Adrian Wu set up the runway room at David Pecaut Square to look like a club from the 1950s, as seen through the eyes of a millennial designer. A piano was set up in the middle of a red-carpeted runway, and two young musicians prepared to perform “Moon River” while a disco ball spun above their heads (a different decade’s dancing accessory, but the mood was there). And so the stage was set: a nostalgic view of a time that the designer –Wu has long been one of the youngest to present at Toronto Fashion Week –never lived through. So, as should be expected from his previous collections, the show quickly became a far-out fantasy. As his show notes put it: “What if the Cuban Missile Crisis escalated into nuclear war in the 1950s?”
Thus, out came three-dimensional dresses made from the most un-fashion of materials: polyurethane foam. Painted in gold, silver, and blood red the dresses bubbled out from the body, recalling exploding guts in the fashion of B-movie horror. The atmosphere, with its decidedly old school soundtrack, setting up an outrageously new school concept was confusing, and wasn’t helped by the Styrofoam squeak that some dresses made as the models walked by. Wu, if anything, is committed to his vision, and probably more than any other designer showing this week, trying to make art rather than wearable fashion. In these ways, he certainly sets himself apart from the pack. As his show notes concluded, “fashion is a performance.” In this case, it certainly was.