“So Sorry.” Those were the words I was first greeted with upon entering the Toronto Power Ball’s sprawling theatrical display. By theatrical display, I’m referencing an event full of underlying meaning, philosophical depth and, of course, amazing fashion.
Never having been before, I expected the Power Ball to be a relatively tame affair, but once I got there the range of emotions I underwent rivaled the dips of the roller coasters at a summer fair.
The evening's theme was "Appetite for Excess" and it didn't disappoint. After viewing a display of iconic fashion pieces from Max Mara, I traipsed up the venue's red-bricked stairs, intruiged. It wasn’t long before I was pushed aside by a young man in all black, who haughtily informed me that media personnel weren’t permitted in the main hall, where something of a food presentation was taking place. Mildly offended, I climbed the stairs to the balconies, preparing a myriad of ways I could write about this snub later. How rude, I thought, that they would segregate us like this! What could I possibly do on a balcony, observe?
Little did I know that this was precisely the plan.
I looked on to see hanging towers of crusty breads, tables lined with champagne flutes and chandeliers made of octopus suspended from the ceiling – their strategic positioning beckoning you to climb over other guests for the chance to snip off a tentacle with large kitchen scissors. Bartenders sat in cushioned, theatre-style seating, forcing partygoers to come to them for their fill of liquid sustenance. Seated to serve; a perfect example of the evening's fabulously absurd attention to detail. My job on the balcony was to follow the lead of those sitting next to me and eat from a relatively sad-looking pile of chips and beer while criticizing (actually yelling at!) those guests enjoying the spread below. The craziest part is that we were told to act this way. This, I learned, was all part of the game.
Perplexed, I made my way to the nearest seat, took off my 6-inch heels and cursed my over-the-top wardrobe choice. Mouth agape, I watched as people mingled, ate and explored the decadence that hung, literally, before their very eyes. In the distance, chefs worked diligently on a lofted stage to layer gourmet eclairs into a sticky, toffee-coloured tower. Up in the first level of the balcony, master baristas crafted the perfect cup of coffee, while in the centre of the stage hands rose from hollowed-out tables presenting offerings of oysters, proscuitto and breads.
After a while, I began speaking with my fellow “peanut gallery” attendees, some of whom were yelling and provoking the gala guests (by instruction!) beneath us. I sat next to a passionate woman from the AGO, who indulged me with her insights, brilliance, and wit on the night’s objective. “We’re calling attention to the wealthy,” she said. “That’s why we had this night on a Thursday and not Friday; this is their everyday, this is their normal.” If you, like me, majored in anything philosophical, the entire evening was academic gold.
Throughout the night, attendees below consumed lavish, over-proportioned procuring’s of food while the media and several all-knowing artists called them out on it. For the most part, our bellowing was ignored – something that gave me a lot to think about as I made my way home. If I had to summarize the evening with one singular hashtag, #sorrynotsorry would most definitely take the cake.
A profound, provocative and powerful evening populated with gorgeous fashion and beautiful minds, this year’s Power Ball was so much more than I anticipated. Treating myself to light dancing, Max Mara artistry, and a whole lot of reflection through excess, the evening was certainly an indulgent, immersive feast for the senses.