Why Evan Biddell is dedicating his David Bowie tribute at Fashion Art Toronto to Iman
In 2007, Evan Biddell became the first winner of Project Runway Canada. The win launched the Saskatoon-born designer to national fame, but also led to what he calls a “somewhat abstract relationship” with supermodel Iman, who hosted the show until its cancellation in 2009. So on January 15, when the world learned of David Bowie’s passing, Biddell says he “immediately felt so bad for Iman.”
It’s for this reason that on April 13, when Biddell presents his tribute to David Bowie at Fashion Art Toronto, the show will be dedicated to Iman. “The whole world knew how much they loved each other,” Biddell says.
Biddell began working on the show shortly after Bowie’s death: he remembers visiting Grasshopper Records on Dundas West and hearing an a cappella version of “Under Pressure,” and feeling as though he was hearing the song—which he knows by heart—for the first time. “That’s when I decided we needed to do a tribute show,” he says. “Not only to honour his infinite inspiration, but [also] the love he had with his wife.”
Biddell’s latest collection is called REBEL—making it already well-suited for a tribute to the late singer and pop-culture visionary—and will be shown as part of FAT’s “Gender Wars” night of programming. The REBEL runway show is a two-part presentation: For the first, Biddell cast 10 models as Bowie—”from transgender runway stompers to … androgynous supermodel types”—and focused their outfits on suits “and what that term can mean out of the box.” The second half of the show, Biddell says, is “more refined, elegant and sophisticated,” in homage to Bowie’s better half. “Iman is always flawlessly put together,” he says. “I wanted this final part to embody those qualities.”
The photos of Biddell’s REBEL outfits featured here—worn by models Erika Krauter and Aluad Anei, who will be walking Biddell’s show—borrow the talents of stylist Ellen Balsevich, makeup artist Alina Demirian and Stephan Belair from Toronto’s Parlour Salon, all of whom (plus many more) will team up again tonight to execute what Biddell says is, ultimately, “a celebration of joy and love.”
“When I was figuring out what to make I realized that all my previous work has been influenced by [Bowie] in some way,” Biddell says. “His outer worldly presence and outrageous antics are all thing I deem qualities in a runway show.”
Fashion Art Toronto runs to April 16. fashionarttoronto.com