GUEST POST: Sarah Jean Harrison
How often to you ponder the intricacies of the fashion world? Do this season’s heel heights wake you up at night? Can changing silhouettes send your mind reeling?
I didn’t think so.
For many of us the world of fashion has about as much relevance on our daily lives as say, the planet Mars. We know it exists somewhere between us and the Sun, but the details of its composition are a mystery that we are content to ignore.
Allow me to suggest that while you can safely go on ignoring Mars, it’s time to pay attention to fashion, particularly Canadian fashion.
In May of this year Peggy Sue Smeltniks-Deavon, creator of the Peggy Sue Collection, won the Toronto Fashion Incubator’s (TFI) New Labels Award. Why, you may be asking, does this pertain to you? Because Peggy Sue, who is a member of the Upper Canada Fibreshed, won with a runway collection made exclusively from local materials.
Yes, you read that correctly. A runway collection, worn by very tall and lanky models, composed entirely of local alpaca, wool, mohair and cashmere with a little natural-drop antler thrown in.
While this is undoubtedly a phenomenal accomplishment for Peggy Sue, and we must all celebrate her achievement, I want to draw your attention to the bigger story behind this success. Peggy Sue hasn’t just won a prestigious award. She has given us, the Upper Canada Fibreshed, an incredible gift: the gift of a renewed perspective.
Until now we have, perhaps unconsciously, accepted that fashion happens somewhere else, somewhere that is not Canada, somewhere that is far away from sheep manure and shearing day. Peggy Sue has confronted this perspective, our perspective, by revealing and celebrating the relationship between farms and fashion.
She has disrupted our assumption that fashion happens elsewhere by presenting Ontario’s fibre landscape in the form of sumptuous coats, sweaters and dresses. Watching her pieces come down the runway is unnerving; we can, perhaps for the first time, see our home reflected in haute couture. And, here’s the biggest revelation of all, it’s beautiful.
Not surprisingly, Peggy Sue isn’t from the Upper Canada Fibreshed. In fact, she’s not even from Canada. She hails from the most opposite of climate realities: Los Angeles, California. Perhaps this is why when she moved to Milton, Ontario with her Canadian husband she saw what all of us natives had ceased to notice: an abundance of textile resources just waiting to be utilized.
Winning the TFI New Label Award is truly a major accomplishment for Peggy Sue but I think the most important aspect of this award has to do more with us than with her. Peggy Sue is giving us the opportunity to take ourselves seriously as textile producers and to truly see the abundance of resources being cultivated in our very own fibreshed
There is beauty, abundance, and dare we say fashion, growing right here at home.
All Photos Credited to Sarah Jean Harrison unless stated otherwise.