Dress Up is a Montreal-based initiative that explores the art of self-expression through fashion. The collective initially began as a series of events that provided a collection of curated vintage clothing for participants to dress up in however they wanted, and without judgment. Frustrated by the limitations of the fashion world, Tosca Webb founded Dress Up in 2017 with the intent of encouraging connectedness between the photographer and subject during photoshoots. Providing vintage clothing and allowing subjects to dress themselves, she introduced an experience where people could explore clothing without judgement.
Dress Up creates a space where you can be whoever you want, and promoting sustainability and community through their events. Anticipating their upcoming event on March 29th 2019 at La Plante in Montreal, Pink Things collaborated with Dress Up for an editorial shoot with the Dress Up creators.
We wanted to learn more about the creators of Dress Up, and what fashion means to them through the outfits that they wore to the shoot.
Tosca is wearing a vintage handmade two-piece pink sparkly pant suit, handmade by her Grandmother in the 1980's for a New Years Eve party.
For Tosca, a love of fashion and clothing runs deep in her family tree. Raised around two seamstress and style-obsessed grandmothers, Tosca was introduced to fashion at a young age. As a kid, Tosca’s Grandma allowed her to explore the art of adorning her body, experimenting with the likes of makeup, jewelry, and nail polish. Ever-fascinated by her Grandma’s red lipstick and nails, they would “get fancy” together for family dinners and outings to the grocery store. This was just the beginning of Tosca’s understanding of relationship with fashion and her body.
Running adjacently with Tosca’s growing love of makeup was her discovery of vintage clothing. Tosca’s Oma encouraged her to pick through old chests and trunks of vintage clothing, hand-sewn and worn by her — 70’s three piece suits, drop-waist 80’s frocks, dainty 60’s heels, and elegant 1950’s party dresses and furs — whenever she came over. Today, those same pieces hang in Tosca’s personal closet; they are paid homage to in photo shoots and worn by Tosca in her day-to-day.
After studying Fashion Merchandising, Tosca began working as a freelance stylist in her hometown of Vancouver, BC. In 2015, Tosca relocated to Berlin and was hired as a fashion curator for an e-commerce startup, where she was introduced to the ins-and-outs of sustainable fashion. Two years later, Tosca moved to Montreal where she currently resides.
Annie is wearing a pink thrifted robe. It is part of the Dress Up inventory and will be featured at the upcoming event.
Annie joined Dress Up in 2018, after moving to Montreal and reuniting with her best high school friend and Dress Up founder, Tosca Webb. Having very little exposure to vintage clothing or the fashion industry, Annie has enjoyed learning from the Dress Up community about sustainable fashion and self-expression. As a partner in the collective, Annie’s focus lies in brainstorming, outreach, and event-planning, but most of all believes in the vision and values behind Dress Up. In her words, “We all deserve the experience to explore who we are and feel fabulous!”
Betsy's outfit is a thrifted two piece hot pink suit. It was bought as a knee-length skirt and hip-length jacket, but has since been cropped and re-structured by Tosca.
Betsy-May Smith was hired by the Dress Up Collective in 2018 to photograph their events on 35mm. Originally from London, her love of visual arts and vintage clothing started at a young age. She was introduced to the world of thrifting by her parents who greatly encouraged the idea of self-expression through fashion and arts. She then began reselling vintage clothing and experimenting with a multitude of different secondhand cameras. In 2013 after completing her A-levels in visual arts, Betsy moved to Oxford for three years, graduating with a degree in Film Studies.
In 2016 she moved to Montreal where she began working at a local vintage store and photographing Montreal street style. Here she met Founder Tosca Webb and collective partner Annie. They then hired Betsy to create a multitude of visual content for the collective, illustrating an ideology and space free of ‘fashion rules’, highlighting creativity in unashamed self expression.
As well as her commissioned work for Dress Up, Betsy has shot for Vice online, is the content creator and social media manager for Eva B vintage store and a freelance photographer and videographer living in Montreal.
Dress Up Collective will be hosting their first event of the year on March 29, 2019 at Le Plante (185 Van Horne, Montreal, QC). This event is an opportunity for guests to explore their relationship to clothing and self-expression, and the intersection of the two.
The event will feature the following live vinyl DJing all night, over 200 pieces of vintage clothing (sizes range from S-XXL) ranging in price from $5-$40, and digital visual projections. Tickets will be available at the door.