Northbound Leather is known around the world for its signature blend of high-fashion leather pieces and BDSM fetish wear. The Toronto-based institution has been an integral part of the North American leather community for generations and is renowned for its annual fashion shows.
Northbound is currently preparing for the latest edition, named Dream, to be hosted at Sound Academy (11 Polson St) on Oct 13. Carolyn Kelly, the show’s producer, says the theme was inspired by the recent surge of BDSM elements in literature, film and music. “We are going to follow a fellow through the video clips who is inspired through books and literature to have wild, fantastic dreams and fantasies,” she says in a phone interview.
Over the years, the Northbound fashion shows have become notorious for pushing the boundaries of kink and fantasy. Last year’s show climaxed with a very live and very real onstage crucifixion, and in a previous year, it ended with an aerial ballet wherein the dancer was suspended in midair using piercings in her body.
This year’s show, however, will be a touch more subdued than previous iterations. Earlier this year, Johnny Giaouris, the son of Northbound Leather’s owner, George Giaouris, passed away in his sleep at the age of 21, after having successfully put together a drop-in fashion show in New York City.
“He had created a line called Code,” Kelly says. “Because his clothing was very young and fresh and urban – it had a very New York feel to it – he wanted it separate from the fetish world. So we’re going to open the show with his clothes in a very touching tribute to him.
“Following that, we will do the rest of the Northbound fetish fashion show,” she explains.
Along with Code, Northbound’s Dream will also look at fantasies and scenes from works of fiction, such as the dubiously popular bestselling book Fifty Shades of Grey, as well as John Norman’s science fiction series, World of Gor.
“I’m fond of the Gor fantasy line we have,” Kelly raves, when asked about her favourite pieces from the show. “Gor is a planet similar to Earth, but it has dominant men and submissive women. We have very fantasy-driven slave girls, very dominant warrior men outfits . . . Very Game of Thrones-type.”
Furthermore, Northbound is delving into the annals of gay erotic history with a line based on Tom of Finland, the artist that captured the quintessential image of powerful, über-masculine, homoeroticism. Kelly says they’ve collected 12 men who “look like they stepped out of the pages of a book.”
It’s fitting that the show is called Dream, as the show seems to focus on encouraging people not to let fear and uncertainty hold them back. This holds a much deeper meaning when you consider how Johnny Giaouris, in his unfortunately short time, managed to accomplish his dream of launching his own fashion line.
“What we hope for the general public to take away from this show is to not be afraid to open your eyes, and to read things, and to fantasize and to dream big.”