“From a fashion perspective, costume is a dirty word,” says local designer Evan Clayton. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Clayton says he was more focused on the commerciality of his pieces. But in the last two years, he’s embraced making clothes that are joyfully outrageous.
This Saturday, September 24, is Clayton’s first solo show in several years. It’s called Inferno for the 14th-century Dante Alighieri poem—but don’t expect old-fashioned, well, fashion. "Think Dante’s Inferno meets Final Fantasy meets The Muppets,” says Clayton. The show stars local drag queens and trans performers, including Kendall Gender, Gia Metric, Jane Smoker, Isabella, Patch, Berlin and Venus.
Instead of fixating on the potential marketability of the garments, Clayton is fully focused on fun. “All of the pieces are costume, basically—there is hardly anything wearable,” he says with a laugh. The designer shares he’s always felt like a bit of an outsider in the fashion industry, creating pieces that walk the line between “fashion” and “costume.” “I’m building out this niche I have, melding the two—but I also think that there are a lot of great figures in fashion that approached their design in the same way,” says Clayton, naming Thierry Mugler and Alexander McQueen: “those weren’t fashion shows, they were drag shows!”
Inferno is taking place at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and it’s not going to be like a standard runway show. Expect characters, story arcs and references to follow—like watching a play, but make it fashion. And above all, expect to be wowed. “My goal isn’t to sell people these clothes—I know that the average consumer isn’t going to want to wear a complete rhinestoned catsuit to the grocery store,” says Clayton. “What I’m sharing is craftsmanship, a really strong aesthetic, and a story.”
September 24, 8:00 p.m.
Vancouver Art Gallery
Tickets $54 on eventbrite