Toronto Chic Symposium
Friday, September 30th, 2022
Jackman Humanities Building, University of Toronto
Deadline: June 15, 2022
In recent years, Toronto has steadily positioned itself as a fashionable city. References to “Hogtown” and “Toronto the Good” have long been replaced with the upbeat “T. Dot” and the slick moniker “the 6ix” — made famous by the celebrated Toronto-born rap artist, Drake. In Who’s Your City? (2008), Richard Florida praised Toronto’s “messy urbanism,” and finding his adopted city a hotbed of diversity, culture and intellectualism, he characterized Toronto as a creative city. In the last decade, Toronto’s global profile has continued to rise. In 2014, Vogue declared Queen West the second coolest neighbourhood in the world, and after the celebrations of the 2019 NBA season, the city was awash in spectacle and grandeur. Nevertheless, Toronto has also been the subject of mayoral scandal and ridicule, and, in the latest decade, a site of much violence and protest. Additionally, the city has seen the loss of major cultural institutions such as concert halls, theatres, fashion weeks and brick-and-mortar stores. In the wake of COVID, Toronto creatives have been prompted and forced to venture into online and remote modes of work and presentation. Indeed, the new millennium has offered an opportunity to investigate how Toronto artists, designers, writers, filmmakers and thinkers have fashioned their city to reflect a more contemporary vision for Toronto’s urban imaginary.
In “Chic Theory” (1997), Joanne Finkelstein acknowledged that “The emphasis that city life gives to appearances concentrates attention on the fashionable.” In this regard, this symposium reflects larger discourses as they relate to urban change in Toronto. In particular, this symposium is in dialogue with the locational histories of fashion that have been investigated in Berliner Chic (Ingram and Sark, 2011), Wiener Chic (Ingram and Reisenleitner, 2014), Montreal Chic (Sark and Bélanger-Michaud, 2016) and L.A. Chic (Ingram and Reisenleitner, 2018). These texts demonstrate how fashion, understood broadly as both a signifier of clothing and style and as a barometer of social, technological and political change, is an integral component of the city.
We seek to bring together scholars, writers, and artists to explore, engage, critique and challenge the concept of “Toronto Chic.” This one-day symposium is supported by the English Department at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus, and will take place at the Jackman Humanities Building in downtown Toronto on Friday, September 30th, 2022.
We invite proposals for 15-20-minute presentations on topics that include but are by no means limited to:
• Toronto cultural institutions: galleries, museums, artist-run centres, theatres
• Festivals: TIFF, Luminato, Nuit Blanche, Pride, Caribana
• Toronto Fashion Week, Indigenous Fashion Arts, Fashion Art Toronto, African Fashion Week Toronto
• FashionTelevision, The New Music, MuchMusic
• Fashionable icons: Mary Pickford, Jeanne Beker, The Raptors, Drake, The Weeknd
• Toronto as Hollywood North or Toronto as itself: Videodrome, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Chloe, Turning Red
• Literature and fashionable literary figures in Toronto: Margaret Atwood, Sheila Heti, Phyllis Brett Young, Catherine Hernandez, Austin Clarke
• Television based in Toronto: Degrassi, Sensitive Skin, Sort Of, Metropia, Private Eyes
• Hippies of Yorkville and Punks of Queen St.
• History of Toronto’s garment industry
• Historical flagships of fashion: Eaton’s, Simpsons, Hudson’s Bay
• Fashionable neighbourhoods and gentrification
• Toronto nightlife, clubs, restaurants
• Fashion journalism in Toronto
• Musicians, artists and collectives
• 20th-Century Toronto designers: Alfred Sung, Marilyn Brooks, Claire Haddad, Pat McDonagh
• 21st-Century Toronto designers: Jeremy Laing, Hayley Elsaesser, Sage Paul, Evan Biddell, Izzy Camilleri
• Toronto’s recognition (and barriers to recognition) on the global stage
• The philosophy of Torontopia
Accepted papers will also be considered for an edited collection of Toronto Chic: A Locational History of Toronto Fashion, by Intellect Books.
Please send a 300-word abstract and brief bio in Word format to Dr Kathryn Franklin (University of Toronto) and Dr Rebecca Halliday (Toronto Metropolitan University): email@example.com by June 15th, 2022.
Dr. Kathryn Franklin