Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Crimes of fashion

The theme of Northbound Leather’s 18th annual fashion show is scandal

Northbound Leather’s 18th annual fetish fashion show focuses on nine different types of scandal. Credit: XTRA FILE PHOTO

An evil woman is being mean to puppies. She’s not quite Cruella De Vil, but she scolds and smacks her puppies — she’s really not a very good pet owner. That is, unless her puppies are actually submissive boys in sexy puppy outfits; from their little begging paws to their hot wagging behinds, that sort of pup loves abuse.

Cruelty to animals, puppies in particular, is one of the scandals that will be portrayed at Northbound Leather’s 18th annual fashion show, Scandal.

“Each year, the staff gets together and selects a theme for the fashion show, and this year the theme that was chosen is scandal,” says Paul Ciantar, who is producing the show for the first time this year. “My job is to create a show that carries that theme.”

He came up with nine different scandals — including political, Hollywood and academic — and divided the show into nine sections, each representing one of the scandals. The models won’t simply walk up and down the runway: they’ll act out their themes in a series of short plays.

In her third year designing for Northbound, and second year as the sole designer for the show, Cheryl Kocot is creating suitably scandalous outfits. It’s a tricky balancing act: “I fight with myself to figure out pieces that are fun and fashionable — stuff that looks great on the runway — but that somebody would actually want to buy and wear,” she says.

She’s also working to create pieces that will appeal to all sorts of people, including gay men. To achieve this goal, she sometimes seeks the advice of Ciantar, who says he’s sort of like Northbound’s “resident kinky gay man.” Ciantar was Mr Leatherman Toronto in 2003 and runs the Black Eagle Kennel Club, a recurring event for people interested in puppy play.

The fashion show will take place at Sound Academy in the midst of a huge fetish party. Before, after and, if they like, during the fashion show, attendees can dance to music by DJs Dwayne Minard and Jimi LaMort and enjoy some sexy play in the two dungeon areas, one of which has glass walls, affording a view of the lake and the city’s skyline.

“The party is a lot of fun because you get everyone: gay, straight, bi, male, female, trans — everyone’s welcome and it’s a very respectful place,” Ciantar says. “Everyone’s there because it’s a dirty sexy party, so there’s not a lot of judgment going on. People just let loose.”