Animal rights and runway fashion – the two phrases, when put together, conjure up images of paint being splashed on fur and protestors jumping onto runways, battling with models for center stage. These two worlds, often at odds with one another, will be united at the upcoming Montreal World Vegan Day Fashion Show. The Fashion Show hopes to raise awareness about animal rights, promote a cruelty-free fashion industry, and fundraise for two charities devoted to rescuing animals: Refuge RR and TEJA’s Animal Refuge
Feeling as though the fundraising events she had been attending were not generating enough excitement and interest in both veganism and animal rights, Melissa Galianos, the founder and president of the annual show, began the project in 2007. “I had been to fundraisers for animals before which were stand up comedy nights. All the comedians did was poke fun at vegans all night. I thought to myself, as great as it is that this event is for a good cause, nobody will leave here feeling motivated, or feel like veganism is hip and fun. A fashion show, on the other hand, seemed the perfect vehicle to convey the message,” Galianos told The Daily in an interview.
However, it has to be asked if fashion, especially given its complicated social history regarding body image, is an appropriate medium to raise awareness about animal rights issues. Galianos was quick to assert her point of view, stating, “The show was built from the ground up on the idea of embracing diversity and accepting others, whether they have two legs or four, or are covered in skin or fur. One way this is reflected is through our models, whom we are proud to welcome in all shapes and sizes. I believe fashion is an excellent way to create awareness about the plight of animals. Our fashion show is a fun, positive and playful way to showcase a way of life which would do incredible good in the world.”
Galianos’s aspiration for the event is that it will impact both the fashion industry and public consciousness. She hopes the show will encourage designers to stop using animal materials such as leather, wool, and silk. She would also like designers to realize that they can use their cultural capital to effect changes in the industry: as Galianos states, “Compassion is the most powerful fashion statement that will always be in style.”
Galianos hopes her efforts will help not only the fashion industry, but also the general public realize their own power to effect change in areas such as animal rights. By buying cruelty-free fashion, people can collectively speak out against the use of animal materials in the industry, effectively creating social change through their own personal style. Galianos emphasized that even through making small changes, people can bring animal rights into the spotlight. “Students could also find the Concordia Animal Rights Association on Facebook and join so they can get news of upcoming protests and events. We are thrilled to meet anyone who wants to lend a hand to the animals!” emphasized Galianos.
The fashion show promises to be an exciting event. With a designer piece to be auctioned off, and musical performances by Mannequin Brides and Young Krow, the evening will provide vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike the opportunity to have a have a good time in the name of cruelty-free fashion.
The fashion show will occur November 1, at the Rialto Theatre, 5723 Parc.