Toronto
2 min

Funky funk

Gala glitz, glamour & groans

CARD SHARKS. The Vegas-themed Fashion Cares saw entertainers and event-goers getting in touch with their inner showgirls. Credit: David Hawe

The 17th edition of Fashion Cares had another virus to contend with as SARS resulted in many performer cancellations. But the biggest threat came in the gala’s inability to re-invent itself.



This year’s boutique had socks and flip flops at half price and had the feel of a poorly lit trade show typically found at any convention centre. The dining hall for the $350 ticket (for dinner, show and party) is usually a highlight. This year the table centrepieces were made of hideous large blocks of ice – ours crashed down onto our table, crushing the bagged hard cookies given for desert and almost tipping over the cheap plexiglass table. Where were the usual performances, funky dressers and why did the dining- room look like the Chatelaine Women Of Excellence luncheon – tired, stale and conservative?



The show itself somewhat saved the night. This year saw a return to the runway format and featured some ingenious scenes, such as a Valley Of The Dolls production with dozens of go-go dancers.



Chantal Kreviazuk opened the show with a song that was dedicated to former AIDS Committee Of Toronto director Charles Roy. The former Mrs Andrew Lloyd Weber, Sarah Brightman (who was the original Christine from Phantom Of The Opera), just released a new Indian influenced classical-pop opera CD called Harem. From her performance, you can tell the CD clearly smells of Euro cheese and mostly comes off sounding like Hooked On India. Her “live” show – most likely lip-synched – felt like an excerpt from Celine Dion’s new Cirque du Vegas show.



The rest of the performers were made up of local singers just launching their careers. They were all very talented and are certain to become huge, but people didn’t pay $100 to $350 for a live Canadian Idol.



Local hip-hop singer Jully Black, easily a Mary J Blige wannabe, worked the crowd into a frenzy and became one of the show’s highlights. Matt Dusk, an early 1960s Bobby Darrin/Frank Sinatra crooner, with his own swing band also proved his worth. With a record coming out next month, this hot and talented singer fit into the Vegas Casino theme and will strongly appeal to Casino Rama regulars.



Overall the show was very well choreographed thanks again to David Connelly and dozens of trained dancers including Rex Harrington.



The two afterparties were lots of fun. First off there was a funky lounge spinning retro to a packed dancefloor. Secondly, there was a circuit style party produced by Adam Pardy of Boy’s Life fame. DJs Matt C and Hex Hector gave good bass while Widelife’s Simone Denny rocked. Lena Love was electric but a bit disappointing.



The consensus seems to be that there was a lack of energy and creativity; the event felt a little subdued. With a 20 percent drop in revenue over last year, raising $800,000, ACT must completely re-invent Fashion Cares or risk turning next year’s gala into a total flop. NYC’s Broadway Bares seems able to do this. Fashion Cares needs creative and management change in the form of a steering committee shakeup, it needs a smaller venue and the sit-down dinner and boutique needs a rethink.



With its exciting full voltage creative spirit and yearly re-invention, the Power Plant Gallery’s Power Ball – held just two days prior to Fashion Cares – has become the premier A-list event that queers attend in large numbers. In comparison, Fashion Cares’ spotlight is now dim and fading out fast.