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Photoshoots, Guest Lists, and Runways: Meet the Team Behind Mass Exodus

Published on
Apr 8, 2024
Written by
Ricardo Felix
Published by
Edited by
Sabrina Yussuf

The world of fashion is brimming with new talent and designers taking the field by storm. Mass Exodus, the year-end show platforming this talent through the work of graduating Fashion students at Toronto Metropolitan University, is fast approaching, taking place on April 13th this year, ringing in its 35th anniversary.

The show's planning and execution is managed by a class of bright and creative students in the Live Events 'supercourse' at Toronto Metropolitan University, which offers a unique and interactive environment for students to create, design, promote, and produce Mass Exodus. 

The theme for this year's show is SLATE, a concept inspired by minimalism and the beauty of simplicity, inviting artists to contribute their uniquely personal stories and perspectives to a blank canvas. 

We had the chance to sit down with some of the team members working behind the scenes in Show Production, Branding & Design, Exhibition, and Professional Communications, to bring Mass Exodus to life. 

Aqsaa Mumtaz: Show Producer & Space/Stage Designer
Hues: What is your role? Tell us about what you do on the Mass Exodus team. 

Aqsaa: Show producer & space/stage designer! I work with our show department to ensure the team's vision is carried out logistically and creatively. As show producers, we are responsible for securing funding & planning the execution of the event. As the space & stage designer, I mostly focus on curating decor, reviewing floor plans and managing how the experience will look and feel for guests.

Why did you join the team and decide to take this course?

I've always loved watching fashion shows and the fast-paced, suspenseful environment of backstage at a show has always excited me. I wanted to understand what happens behind the scenes of an event production better. So I took this class to gain experience and it's been worth it! 

What is  your favourite trend from the capstone collections/projects this year? 

I've loved seeing the fusions of cultural garments from a Western perspective. It combines the two worlds together. I've seen many South Asian designers reinventing traditional dress. I also think Art-to-Wear is going to be something we see more regularly as well. 

Niusha Zamanipour: Art Director
Hues: How would you describe your creative process in 3 words? 

Niusha: Fluid, exploratory, collaborative.

How would you describe your role on the team? 

My role as Art Director collaborates with the Professional Communication team to create promotional materials that communicate the visual identity of SLATE in photo and video format.

How would you describe this year’s theme, SLATE? 

I think SLATE is all about stripping the show back to the bare minimum and letting the designer's work shine. It's inspired by the colours and textures we are exposed to every day as designers.

What is your favourite trend from the capstone collections/projects? 

It's interesting how many menswear collections we had this year. Shows the huge potential for menswear to grow and the gender fluid direction fashion is moving more towards. But truly there are no 'trends', everyone is designing what is true to themselves.

Cassandra Sukraj: Design Team Lead
Hues: How would you describe your creative process in 3 words? 

Cassandra: Organic, inspired, imaginative.

What is your department responsible for?

The Branding & Design department is responsible for creating the look and feel of Mass Exodus, with developing identity characteristics like the brand image, tone, and voice. This department ensures that all creative assets communicate this character and that all aspects of the show are aligned with the overall creative vision.

How would you describe SLATE?

I would describe SLATE as the stripping back of ornamentals to reveal the foundational elements of a given platform. I see it as raw and vulnerable; a primed canvas waiting for inscription.

What is one thing you want to reveal to the audience about producing Mass Exodus? 

It's all hands on deck. Each team member has a valuable role and the show's success relies on the team's ability to work together. Luckily, we've got some great leadership in the room, and a space where everyone can feel welcome to share their ideas.

Parker Murchison: Show Producer & Music and Model Choreography 
Hues: How would you describe your creative process in 3 words? 

Parker: Research, process, execute. 

What has been your favourite experience so far while planning Mass Exodus? 

My favourite experience has been the feeling of our class slowly becoming a team. At this point, we have been together since September and I feel like I have made a ton of new friends.

What is your department and what is it responsible for? 

I am in the Show Production department and we are in charge of making the show happen. Budgeting, pitching for funding, floor plans, space design, renting all the gear, hiring all the contractors- the list goes on!

Joseph Horne: Creative Direction Lead
Hues: How would you describe this year's theme, SLATE, in your own words? 

Joseph: SLATE is our bold step towards capturing the essence of Mass Exodus, honing in on the purity of creative expression. Our goal is to present a clear, minimalist stage where the spotlight is on student creativity, unbound by any specific themes or narratives. This initiative is grounded in the belief that true creativity thrives in simplicity, offering students a space where their voices can be raw, unfiltered, and authentically theirs. It's about returning to the basics, providing a canvas that's both empty and full of potential.

What has been your favourite experience while planning Mass Exodus? 

The collaborative spirit. Witnessing the seamless integration of diverse elements into a cohesive whole, while also deepening our communal bond, has been incredibly rewarding.

What is one thing you want to reveal to the audience about producing Mass Exodus? 

Behind the scenes of Mass Exodus lies an immense amount of work, demanding dedication, commitment, and, of course, a fair share of caffeine. This endeavour is a testament to teamwork and creativity, where frequent brainstorming sessions and late-night efforts converge to bring the vision to life. It's a collaborative journey, characterized by shared goals and the unity of purpose, making every challenge a step towards a memorable experience. In essence, producing Mass Exodus is as much about the passion and perseverance of the team as it is about the event itself.

Priya Shiwram: Exhibition Production Manager
Hues: What is your role? Tell us about what you do on the team.

Priya: I am a production manager for the exhibition team. I help oversee the floor plan for the exhibition room, ensuring that every designer has the opportunity to showcase their capstone project to the best possible advantage. We want the exhibition space to have an engaging layout that enhances the experience. I also oversee the budget for the team, making sure that allocate resources accordingly.  Finally, I am in contact with Redbull in trying to secure a sponsorship to boost Mass Ex's reach and impact.

What has been your favourite experience so far in planning Mass Exodus?

My favourite part of planning has been the process of the exhibition floor plan. Grouping designers based off their approach and concepts has been very exciting. It has been a tricky road to ensure that each designer gets the exposure they need, but it has been extremely  rewarding to be part of the celebration of each designer's capstone.

Why did you join the team and decide to take this course?

I joined this course because I enjoy the creativity and process of event planning. I find that the process is the most rewarding part of event planning. Seeing our work come to life at the end of our course is a huge accomplishment. I love learning about this process, and I love incorporating all of our ideas into something for our school community.

Michaela Ferraro: Web & Social Lead
Hues: What is your favourite trend from the capstone collections / projects?

Michaela: I like seeing designers continue to push the envelope when it comes to what is binary - many designers are redefining gender roles through their collections.

What is one thing you want to reveal to the audience about the behind the scenes of producing Mass Exodus?

So much goes into every single aspect of the show, everyone on the team dedicated a lot of time to put it together, using their own time outside of the three-hour class to ensure that this show and exhibit comes out as polished as possible.

What is your department and what is it responsible for?

Web and Social is in charge of managing the social media accounts for Mass Exodus - creating a posting schedule, writing copy for captions and managing any messages that the account receives, we also manage the website development, ensuring everything on the site is correct and up-to-date while also planning the visual presentation of the site.

For updates on Mass Exodus, follow @massexodus_tmu on Instagram or visit their website for more information https://massexodus.ca/