WXW was founded with the intention to draw awareness to the unique perspective of women in an industry dominated by the male gaze and to encourage women to get behind a camera lens and create their own fashion vision.
Feature contributor to This Is Worldtown, Danah Abdulla of The Yuppie Activist, reports.
Photographs by Sarah Blais from Thirty9Steps
“Excuse me, who photographed this? I’d like to buy it.” “That would be the lady sitting over there if you’d like to speak to her.” Last year, at the public exhibit of WomenXWomen (WXW), instead of walking out with a print, I walked out with a friend. For those that know me, you’re well aware of my LG Fashion Week policy: I never RSVP for the on-site shows. I usually end up having a seat saved for me anyway because I happen to find my name on one. But I just don’t RSVP. For WXW however, I did, this time as the guest of the same photographer I met at the same exhibit a year before.
With a successful debut in 2009, the ladies behind WXW put together another successful show at the Thrush Holmes Gallery featuring 12 of Canada’s top female fashion photographers. WXW was founded with the intention to draw awareness to the unique perspective of women in an industry dominated by the male gaze and to encourage women to get behind a camera lens and create their own fashion vision. This year, instead of having the actual prints, the photographs were projected on LCD screens alongside a “making of” film vignette. Despite the interactive idea behind the projection of the photos on the screen, the video component, and the effort to save space in a gallery dripping with people, the quality wasn’t very sharp and I would’ve much rather had the opportunity to look at the actual prints themselves.
The improvement over last year was apparent not only in the marketing of the event but in the choice of photographs on display. Drawing a comparison for returning photographers, I observed the improvement in their skills: more of the work felt like fashion photography and less like the practice of a hobby. Another feature for 2010 was including women from Montreal as opposed to only Toronto, and wardrobe stylists using clothing from Canadian designers like Denis Gagnon, Jeremy Laing, Pink Cobra, Andy The Anh, and Greta Constantine.
The settings/locations varied, Lily & Lilac opted for a Roman Empire backdrop, Renata Kaveh and her team traveled to the desert in Nevada, Kat Torgasev used the natural lighting of a church, Maude Arsenault and Carlyle Routh both used beautiful models in either a home type of setting that felt a little too much like a Guess? campaign or a scene from Fatal Attraction, and others like Geneviève Caron, Angela Martin, and Arline Malakian opted for studio. Studio shoots are difficult to pull off and depending on the effort of all parties, they can either turn out to be very boring or absolutely incredible. Unfortunately, very few managed to pull off the studio shots, but I must give credit to Arline Malakian, the execution on her shoot, from styling, to hair, to make up, was flawless and made for stunning photographs.
Women photographers are becoming more prominent in the industry and exhibits like WXW encourage their presence within fashion, providing them with the confidence to proudly show off their work and a stepping stone for their career. With a group of talented women behind it, you can be assured that any photographer whose work is featured at WXW will emerge a name in the world of fashion photography. After all, some of these ladies are halfway there.