Could the AGO Art Bash Become Canada’s Version of the Met Gala?

Could the AGO Art Bash Become Canada’s Version of the Met Gala?
Photography by Ryan Emberley

At the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Art Bash!, the worlds of fashion and fine art collide.

It goes without saying that the Met Gala is the reigning champion of stylish events: the fashion, the star-power, the theatrical themes (the Metropolitan Museum of Art just announced the 2023 exhibition would be ‘Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty’) and the Anna Wintour-ness of it all. And it seems the Art Gallery of Ontario is aiming for just that with its reimagined Art Bash!

After two years of pandemic-induced slumber, the fundraiser roared back to life with a party that combined art, performance and avant-garde fashion by some of Canada’s most creative designers. “All Out” was the theme for the event held on September 29 in Toronto, and everyone brought it. Guests busted out the sequins, ruffles and, in one case, monarch butterflies. Martina Sorbara and her band Dragonette ignited the Walker Court dance floor. And artworks commissioned for the occasion by Scott Benesiinaabandan, Patrick Cruz, Anna Lucia, Dan Mazzone and Howie Tsui dazzled inside and outside and even served as “wallpaper” in one of the elevators that took VIP ticket holders up to dinner.

Pre-COVID the AGO held two annual fundraisers: the high-end Art Bash! supported by museum patrons and corporate sponsors, and the much more raucous AGO Massive which targeted a millennial crowd with a more accessible ticket price. The new Art Bash! brings the two groups together in a lively and colourful way.

CAFA president Vicky Milner and FASHION creative and fashion director George Antonopoulos collaborated on an “installation” of mind-boggling fashions that included looks from Next in Fashion’s Charles Lu, Tristan Réhel, L’uomo Strano by Mic Carter, Moskal Studio, Uncuffed Leather, Ali Haider Couture and more. Ooohs and ahhs couldn’t help but escape the audiences’ lips as models posed in towering tulle gowns, gender-bending suits and illuminated hats, all styled by Ashley Galang.

And those who were lucky enough to get close to the models (or just had excellent eye-sight) were treated to a visual feast of flashy hair and makeup, courtesy of Leandro Avanco and his team. Feathery fake eyelashes, colourful gemstone freckles, and gothic lipstick lent themselves perfectly to the event’s theme, contributing to the overall “wow” factor of the evening.

See for yourself in the gallery below, where we’ve rounded up some of the most memorable looks from the 2022 AGO Art Bash!