Focus on fashion - Designer Barry Buckle puts on a show pointing out the downside of modern technology

Published on July 13, 2013
Fashion designer Barry Buckle


Are Newfoundlanders and Labradorians fashionable?                          

Yes, and more so now than ever, says local fashion designer Barry Buckle.

“Just go downtown and you’ll see it everywhere,” he says, attributing the province’s growing fashion sense during the past 10 years to technology, which has allowed the world to become smaller and flatter, with styles from New York and Milan easily brought home through mobile phones.

The downside of modern technology is the focus of Buckle’s upcoming 25th anniversary show, “Mode Apocalyptique,” which he will present at Velvet Bar and Lounge Thursday evening.

It’s an exploration of his idea that society has taken the benefits of technology too far, and people have become drones to it.

“People don’t realize how much they are dependent on their cellphone, their tablet, everything, every day of their lives. It’s our apocalypse against ourselves because of social media, and we’ve become slaves to it all,” Buckle explains. “This is a kind of satiric look at it.”

Buckle does satire well, and has taken looks at everything from TV to sadomasochism from a satirical point of view in the past.

For “Mode Apocalyptique,” models will wear identical wigs and sunglasses, and will display Buckle’s original clothing creations, which range from retro-space style to futuristic and sci-fi.

Buckle was taught to sew by his mother, a longtime seamstress, and remembers creating his own clothes as a teenager — the first outfit he ever made, he

said, was a three-piece suit to wear to a friend’s


After studying at Memorial University for a while, he decided to make his love of sewing and clothing design a full-time career, and switched to College LaSalle in Montreal, where he earned a degree in fashion design.

He went on to earn a diploma in pattern-making and fashion design from Holland College in P.E.I., though he prefers not to use patterns.

“I have some base patterns that I’ve made myself that I use, but mostly I drape things and cut them to fit,” he says.

Buckle has been teaching sewing at the Anna Templeton Centre for the past 15 years, and works as a freelance designer, creating custom outfits for people looking for unique pieces, or costumes for productions by local theatre companies.

He is quite involved in charity, and will lend his styling support to events such as the Heart Truth fashion show for the Heart and Stroke Association, and other fashion-related events. Over the span of his career, Buckle reckons, he’s participated in more than 300 fashion, film and theatre events.

He sells his own line of clothing at Model Citizens in downtown St. John’s, and one of his main goals, he says, is to ensure his designs look good on a range of bodies, not just the typical Size 2 model figure.

“I like it to be realistic,” he says of his clothing line. “I try to keep a little more trendy right now than I did 25 years ago, and with a little edge.”

Finding that perfect balance between edgy and wearable is not always easy, he admits, but it’s the constant changes in the fashion industry which keep him in the business. He thrives on it, he says.

Inspiration, for Buckle, comes from things he sees. Instead of following direct trends, he likes to take aspects of each of them and combine them into something unique, but still fashionable. He also finds himself inspired by his students.

“They’re new and they’re fresh and they’ve got so many ideas,” he says. “You learn as much from them as they do from you, only in different ways.”

“Mode Apocalyptique” will begin at 10:30 with a performance by local drag queen and 2008 Drag Idol winner Betty Boo Kakke, who will perform Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome),” wearing an outfit Buckle created, based on Turner’s character in the 1985 post-apocalyptic movie “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.”

The fashion show will begin immediately afterwards, and Buckle has carefully put together every aspect of it, from choosing the photographer, videographer and DJ — all new in their businesses, he says, and deserving of an opportunity — to the songs that will be played.

“Typically, in a lot of fashion shows, the music for the show is very techno-based. I went in totally the opposite direction and my stuff is a lot of classic rock and classic heavy metal that relates to the theme, with some newer music, like stuff by Marilyn Manson.”

Admission to “Mode Apocalyptique,” which is a celebration of 2013 Pride Week in St. John’s as well as Buckle’s career anniversary, is free.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury