Detail from Katrina Tuttle‘s design for the 2010 White Cashmere Collection, held at the AGO last week. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation event, in which top Canadian designers create clothes made entirely out of bathroom tissue, coincides with the brand’s reintroduction of its limited-edition pink product, of which 25 cents from each package sold goes to the Foundation.
Story and photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.
Last week’s White Cashmere show—featuring designs from Renata Morales, Pat McDonagh, Réva Mivasagar and other top Canadian couturiers—made crafting ensembles out of bathroom tissue almost look easy, obscuring a design process swathed in challenges.
“The biggest thing is that it tears,” recalled Katrina Tuttle of creating her belted sheath dress. “That was the hardest thing to get around—figuring out what was the best way to strengthen it so the garment would hold itself up. The first day, the first 12 hours, was about trial and error.”
Sleek cocktail dresses, voluminous frocks and even a swimsuit—all formed from pink and standard-issue white Cashmere bathroom tissue—appeared across a runway navigated with careful confidence by a model contingent featuring Canada’s Next Top Model, Meaghan Waller, in a sweeping Ines Di Santo gown. Shay Lowe’s Tudor-esque ruff necklace boldly established territory for accessorizing under the TP aesthetic. Remarkably there were no casualties on the catwalk, save for a bit of downed flower detailing.
Style legend Pat McDonagh, whose striking commission evoked a candy-flossed southern belle, remembers “three weeks of utter labour” culminating in near-disaster.
Katrina Tuttle, with a model in her White Cashmere design.
“The challenge became greater as one got into it,” McDonagh said at the reception before the show. “I’m not very scientifically minded. I tried spraying it with spray starch, and that was fine in small areas. But the night before we delivered it I thought ‘I’ll give it a really good whisk-over’—nobody told me that toilet paper is designed to go into slime when you really wet it. So from being a very fresh, feminine, delicate rose, the dress is a bit of a ragged rose now.”
Pat McDonagh’s design.
The crowd seemed not to mind though, as there was no let up in the staccato of camera shutters and flashes once it hit the runway. And McDonagh, whose clients have included Diana Rigg and The Beatles, is taking it in her considerable stride: “I must be the oldest designer on the planet, but I like new challenges and I think you’re constantly learning, and that’s part of what keeps you going.”
Renata Morales’s design.
Somewhere in between was Paris Li’s origami-adorned bubble dress. “I focused on making pleats,” says the graduate of the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Art in China. “Bathroom tissue is really soft but pleats are really hard, so for me it’s like the softness represents women’s feelings of sadness or vulnerability when facing breast cancer while the multiple pleats demonstrate how people need to support each other, that women confronting this can be strong with support from others.”
Paris Li’s design (above).
Caitlin Power‘s design.
Aqua Di Lara‘s design.
Angie Smith wearing Réva Mivasagar.
Detail of a Shay Lowe jewellery design on the runway.
Meaghan Waller in Ines Di Santo‘s design.
Serge Kerbel, the fashion director of LUSH, and the curator of the show.
Below, more looks we liked at the show, starting with Kirsten Schaefer (left) and Shay Lowe.
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