From the August/September issue of Auxiliary Magazine.   





The hair and makeup alone for this collection earned some serious brownie points among [FAT] showgoers—the fingers curls were bananas, to paraphrase a certain celebrity stylist. Going with a theme of “Beautiful and Damned” for the Grit/Glamour evening of the week, Asphyxia’s 1920s-inspired collection opened with an up-tempo remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Young & Beautiful.” Designer Alexandra De Francesco’s feminine pieces were anything but timid or safe: The insanely intricate detailing, along with a finale to remember (it may or may not have included a total disrobing of a model) made this show one of the night’s best. A seamless marriage of old school femininity and modern sass culminated in some fierce looks. We know where to look for an outfit for our next Great Gatsby-themed party.
By: Jessica Flower


ISN Radio On The Scene : Asphyxia at FAT, Fashion Arts Toronto

Written by Edwin Somnambulist on April 30, 2014

Fashion Art Toronto, or FAT, describes itself as "a platform for inventive, pioneering and contemporary expression. This annual multi-arts event features 200 national and international fashion designers, visual artists, bands and performers each year". For me, it's something very different. It's the event I go to every year to see some of our community's most talented fashion designers display their recent works.

One of the absolute highlights for me is the Asphyxia show, which each year comes up with not only phenomenally different clothing, but frames the entire runway show in an interesting and delightful visual performance. While not every designer's collection at FAT has a unified theme or vision, one thing that greatly impresses me about designer Alexandra De Francesco's shows is that there's always an underlying thread tying all of her pieces together, and it's always something that, despite being wildly different than the fashion du jour, is also very relatable. As an utter neophyte to fashion and it's world, I also appreciate that her edgy designs aren't so conceptual that they could never be worn in real life; this woman designs gorgeous, unique pieces that would be very much at home at a gala evening or high class party.

Asphyxia's show this year was entitled "Beautiful and Damned", and the theme was firmly rooted in the roaring twenties, with a general 'flapper' aesthetic. The clothing had a sense of adult fun to it; classy, sexual, and playful, combining the silkiest and laciest materials alongside accents which looked like gems and fur. The sheer variety of materials which melded together in this collection was nothing less than a symphony for the eye, accented by spectacularly crafted hair, jewellery, and makeup to suit the theme

The models themselves were no less of a sight to behold, all of them beautiful in their own ways. Far from the 'walking clotheshangers' that the fashion industry is often accused of promoting, these women had serious style and personality, and it shone through in spades. It's my belief that De Francesco chose her models because she knew they'd add their own individuality and flair to each of her collection's pieces. The variety in looks, body shapes, heights, and personal expressions was refreshing to see, and proved that Asphyxia clothing is not just suited for one specific type of person.

The runway show was finished with a one of a kind performance: a sort of burlesque act involving a model disrobing from her diaphanous evening wear and lingerie with the help of two other models acting as ladies-in-waiting. Sexy, fun, exhilarating, breathtaking, and perfectly timed to the music, this short montage couldn't have been more appropriate to the collection.

And finally, the designer herself, with a humbleness that contravenes her overwhelming talent, made only a brief appearance at the end of the performance to wave to the crowd before disappearing again offstage, away from the standing ovation given by those in attendance. At the end of the show, seemingly the only question on anyone's mind was how they could get their hands on these unique and special pieces, and what would Asphyxia have in store for us in the future!

Heavily inspired by the roaring 1920s Asphyxia did not disappoint. The collection included beautiful details of beadwork, fur, ribbon, lace overlay and fringe. Although the fabrics were delicate the looks seemed to represent the vixens of their time. A sea foam green satin and cream dress and a sequinned dressing gown with a long train were both glamourous and strong and highlights of the collection.
Written by Zilly Lilly

Bringing 1920s glamour to the |FAT| runway, Asphyxia designer Alexandra De Francesco created a collection - dubbed 'Beautiful & Damned' - which "spotlights scarlet sirens, dazzling dames and hedonistic headdresses, highlighting 1920s influences in a tribute to the frantic pace of progress and its price" (Fashion Art Toronto).  Silk, lace, and intricate beading formed the central textile themes of each tapestry.  De Francesco concluded her show with a burlesque-like strip tease that left every show goer talking.
Meaghan Elizabeth for Fashion Savage.





Mar 17, 2014 |

Designer and textile artist De Francesco brings grit and glamour to Arts and Fashion Week

Collection being unveiled April 23

Art and Fashion week

Bloor West Villager

By  Lisa Rainford

Fashion designer and textile artist Alexandra De Francesco toils all year in preparation for the annual Fashion Art Toronto’s (FAT) Arts and Fashion Week, April 22 to 26.

FAT celebrates inventive and contemporary expression through more than 50 runway shows, live performances, fashion films, photography exhibits and art installations.

De Francesco relishes in taking her time to collect materials from recycled antiques, to lace and beading to create one-of-a-kind wearable art couture – work that has been described as “dark and daring” and “pin-up dominatrix chic.”

“It takes a long time to collect and piece together what I have,” The Roncesvalles Village resident said. “Because it’s so old, it’s tough to work with, it disintegrates.”

De Francesco initially applied to the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) intent on pursuing drawing and painting. What she graduated with was a Bachelor Degree in design.

“I don’t know how that happened,” she said, laughing.

De Francesco said she likes to work with salvaged materials that also include ancient silks and hand-dyed and silk-screened fabrics, recycled furs and hand-spun threads.

“As a kid, I was always making things from everything around me, even in the garden out of leaves. I was always crafting,” she said. “My mom had fabric in the basement. She’d help me sew outfits for my dolls.”

De Francesco honed her sewing skills in high school in home-ec class.

Her latest collection, ‘Grit/Glamour,’ inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald and his writing of the Jazz Age, will make its debut Wednesday, April 23 at 585 Dundas St E.

“I was inspired by the excess of the time period. I started to get dazzled by the light and sequins of the era,” she said.

Her seventh showing at FAT, De Francesco is no stranger to the “craziness” of the event. It’s a blur of coordinating shoes, make-up, models and the like – all while holding down several other jobs at the same time.

“I’m always moving, it’s pretty intense,” said De Francesco. “It’s a hell of a lot of stress. Then, it’s over and I can relax.”

De Francesco, whose company is called Asphyxia, has exhibited her work at the Textile Museum of Canada, The Gladstone Hotel and Gallery X.

“I just love creating beautiful things – I don’t want to be mass-produced. Visit asphyxiadesigns.com for details.

Bloor West and Dufferin streets-area Starkers Corsetry, owned by designer Dianna DiNoble, who creates custom, made-to-order corsets, will present her work during a fashion show on Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22.

DiNoble’s interest in corsets piqued in high school while studying a lot of art history, although, she showed artistic talent as a child when she began sewing and painting. She studied fashion design at Sheridan College before apprenticing with couturiers and learning the same techniques she uses to create her corsets.

“It’s so versatile. It can be so many different styles,” said DiNoble, who will be showing her work for the seventh time at FAT. “I love how it can change people’s shape.”

DiNoble’s 10-piece runway show this year features corsets that incorporate animal skin textures and nature-inspired themes. The annual show is DiNoble’s chance to flex her creative muscle.

For further details, visit www.starkers.com and asphyxiadesigns.com



[FAT] 2013 collection blush&alabaster: 


 runway : Asphyxia FAT 2013

Friday, July 12th, 2013

 FAT Toronto ON, April 23 - 

Alexandra De Francesco, the fashion designer and textile artist behind Asphyxia showed her latest collection at Toronto’s Arts and Fashion Week known as FAT. Since 2010 she has been showing her artful solo creations at FAT. This year’s collection was entitled Blush & Alabaster, a collection of twelve dresses, each their own mini artworks.

Theatrical wigs crafted by Faye Castro helped in creating the feeling of a Victorian dream, with lots of roses in bird cages and birds and butterflies in the hair which brought a sense of whimsy.

A parade of lace, feather, silks, furs, and sheers came down the runway. The surprising factor might have been just how much softer cremes, pinks, and beige’s were incorporated into this years collection. Though there was still quite a bit of De Franceso’s use of black mixed with oranges, burgundys, wines, and purples. The show closing had a stunning cage skirt with roses and a black feather plumage caged top with lace paneling, this was stripped away to reveal a two piece lingerie set in soft cream and rose pink was the right piece to close the show, making it a memorable collection to start the week off right.

Overall the looks had a much more burlesque feel then past collections, being very playful in nature with a definite sexual tease factor.

- Tasha Farrington




 "|FAT| Day One. Asphyxia – Blush & Alabaster

Posted on April 24, 2013 , by Josh Cawston

One of my most anticipated shows for night 1 of |FAT| had to be Alexandra De Francesco and her line Asphyxia, once the lights dimmed and the Asphyxia name came across the screen above the runway I was assured by all the cheers and clapping that I wasn’t the only one on the edge of their seat waiting to see what this former OCAD grad had in store for us this season.

Entitled Blush & Alabaster, De Francesco drew inspiration from Marie Antoinette and her dressmaker Marie-Jeanne Rose Bertin for the classic lines we see in the dresses while using ivories, creams and other light tones pairing them up with brighter colours such as crimson red, pale blues, warm plums and blacks as dark as the night. Embellishments were used to not only draw attention to certain areas of the dresses but were used to show a coexistence between extremes, pairing salvaged items and old lace with flourishes of live flowers not only adds that touch of flare De Francesco is known for it turns this collection into wearable art for anyone looking to dress to their darker side while still retaining their femininity.

Never to be outdone by her show last season and it’s live dress alteration at the end of the runway, this year we were treated to a model being stripped down to an ivory set of lingerie decorated with live flowers and a traditional burlesque style fan dance. It’s only been day 1 of |FAT| and I’m already looking forward to hearing about what De Francesco has planned for Asphyxia next."


[FAT] 2012 collection bloom:

Auxiliary Magazine, Jennifer Link. p.37 issue 22. June/July



|FAT| Arts & Fashion Week. Asphyxia, Taking Our Breath Away

27th April 2012  Josh Cawston

"as·phyx·i·a noun: A condition arising when the body is deprived of oxygen, causing unconsciousness or death; suffocation."

"While everybody left the show alive it’s safe to say that Alexandra De Francesco’s collection entitled Bloom took our breath away. The inspiration behind the collection is the fleeting beauty of nature, using live flowers and foliage in the collection has the viewer truly appreciate the beauty of the designs before the inevitable course of time takes them away." 

"The pieces stayed true to Asphyxia style, using an edgy and modern attitude the designs are offset by the classic lines and materials that are very reminiscent of a 1920's flapper.  Colours remained very dark and moody with shades of purple and black with a few pieces standing out from the crowd in ivory, Alexandra also gave us a great show in true asphyxia style, a full length dress altering by two scissor wielding models who slashed and tore away revealing a whole new outfit. Last year she wowed the crowd with her aerial performance, this year she gave us a fleeting garden and unique view at an alteration leaving a lasting impression on the audience."




Asphyxia Bloom – |FAT| 2012

Posted on April 28, 2012 , by antheatsoukalas

As soon as the looks came out on the runway we thought “Wow, very Madonna!”  This wearable art collection with nods to history and gothic are well suited to the edgier trends of today.  While there was a sense of containment with the corsetry, there was also a sense of freedom provided by the use of preserved and real flowers.  There was definitely a play of the artifices of containment versus the freedom of nature.  Loved the wedding outfit, a stunning white tiered and layered standout.  Great spikey textured purses and unique hair pieces and designs.  The show ended with a dramatic unveiling of a feminine piece that reminded us of the change from dark black of Winter to the flowers of Spring!  The intricate concepts, overall design and built in drama  made this a very different runway show.  We liked the variety of sewing techniques and could see the level of skill in each and every piece.





Marie Antoinette Descontructed

Somewhere, Lindsay Lohan is thrilled to hear that heart-shaped nipple pasties are finally a thing. OCAD graduate and Asphyxia designer Alexandra De Francesco showed decontructed gowns, corsets, lace, and underwire skeletons that made for quite the macabre runway presentation. To create her medieval-dominatrix aesthetic, De Francesco used 'everything but the kitchen sink,' including materials like live and preserved flowers, skeleton leaves, age-old lace and beadwork, recycled fur and leathers, mesh and wire, hand-spun water soluble threads, hand-dyed and silkscreened fabrics, raw silks, and organza. The show's finale saw two women emerge from the audience to slice up one of the models' gowns. 

Bianca Teixeira writes about style for Toronto Standard. Follow her on Twitter at @BeeLauraTee.





Asphyxia at |FAT| 2012

"Asphyxia (Bloom collection) at |FAT| 2012 was a collection of wearable one-off pieces combining designer Alexandra De Francesco's clothing designs with her more recent foray into floral art. "

 "The final outfit consisted of a wooden parasol frame covered in flowers, the model wearing a long black coat, two women armed with scissors (in a crazy scissor holster at that) emerged to 'free' her from her coat and to reveal the ethereal flower adorned outfit beneath."

"Many of the pieces were reminiscent of Victorian mourning wear so the flowers reminded me of spring but also of beautiful and elaborate funerary displays. I liked the use of lace especially in one very sculptural dress comprised of lace panels edged in what appeared to be red vinyl and adorned with deep red roses."

All photos were taken by myself, D.E La Valle. If you borrow them please provide a link back to this post and email me at glowingdoll@gmail.com.


bloom tweets:  

12h  FajiR♔ ‏ @FajirS_

#Asphyxia collection is very #TimBurton it's different and definitely unique #FAT2012 @FAToronto


2h  Hannah Yakobi ‏ @hannahyakobi

Punk, goth, power. #Asphyxia at #FAT2012 @FAToronto http://pic.twitter.com/qq82PSf3


12h  fashionistas ‏ @fashionistasME

Asphyxias pin-up dominatrix chic, dark and daring beauty at #FAT2012


Fashion Art Toronto ‏ @FAToronto

love! Very dark but feminine. “@hannahyakobi: Punk, goth, power. #Asphyxia at #FAT2012 @FAToronto http://pic.twitter.com/aVMuAgMU” Hannah Yakobi, Fajo Magazine


12h  FajiR♔ ‏ @FajirS_

LOVED the show stopped for #Asphyxia super cool!!! #FAT2012


12h  Josh Cawston ‏ @jtcawston

Loving the punk mixed with 20's boudoir fashion in #Asphyxia @FAToronto #FAT2012 http://pic.twitter.com/MgKJpXxr


Septembre Anderson ‏ @SeptembreA

Also, I need an Asphyxia parasol made out of wild flowers #FAT2012


12h  Nina Cherry ‏ @ninaAcherry

BOOM she bloomed #fat2012 http://pic.twitter.com/mK1Ow2JX


Noella Eze ‏ @PetiMadmoiselle

Bloom Asphyxia's finale? 9.2 on the awesomeness scale! @FAToronto #FAT2012


1h  Auxiliary Magazine ‏ @auxiliarymag

The first night of #FAT2012 was great! Asphyxia's show used fresh flowers in all the designs, beautiful! @FAToronto






[FAT] 2011 collection monument:

Fashion returns


Ryan G Hinds / Toronto / Thursday, May 19, 2011


"I also loved Alexandra De Francesco’s Asphyxia show. Imagine a bordello in hell: corsets, antique Victorian lace, distressed fabrics, feathers and black platform multi-buckled PVC boots. Eye-catching cut-outs, sheer textiles and other interesting layered details made this show a standout. A gothic edge always gets my attention, but there is enough sparkle in the pieces to keep it. One of the jackets is something that Prince or Adam Lambert would look amazing in, so of course I want it! "

"Backstage, De Francesco’s personal style reflected what she had just paraded down the runway; I’m always happy to see a finished line that’s true to the designer’s own aesthetic. She was also the only designer I spoke to who offered to make some of her pieces for us bigger folks. Score one for the few-and-far-between FAT fatties!"



"The Asphyxia collection was an infusion of different looks and eras that combined flapper with Goth and vamp. The feathers, corsets and lace were grounded by edgy platform boots, which created a glamour-rock look. The majority of the collection contained pieces with sheer and cut-out overlays that revealed hints of undergarments, leaving some things to the imagination. Aside from the clothes, the best part of the show was the trapeze performance that provided a theatrical element to the runway.The model performing was able to scale the rope, twist and tumble and still look fabulous."




"Alexandra De Francesco showed a new Asphyxia collection at the first night of FAT this year. There was lot of lace, black, and white as seen in past collections. Sheer fabrics revealing skin and mid-drifts were a theme throughout. As well as a more flowing and loose fit. The strong point of Asphyxia designs remains the use of fabrics and textures." Jennifer Link





[FAT] 2010 collection wrath: 


Wrath by Asphyxia

April 27, 2010 

Review by Leslie Marie Albuerne

"The collection flowed fluidly as each garment became more intricate; bestowed was a dark sartorial Gothic glamour, which was represented through the cutting, details, and trimming in these delicate garments. "

"Such femininity and elegance, though melancholy in sight, was well embodied in these one off pieces by this young couturier.  Wrath by Asphyxia proclaimed a beautiful, yet macabre series of wearable garments, for the true appreciators of dark fashion of great caliber."


"It was a beautiful collection of white and black textures, lace and satin that was in line with De Francesco’s focus on textiles. The long flowing dresses were the backbone of the collection, but I personally really enjoyed the short dresses for the stripes and sections made through the stitching together of different textured fabrics. "   jennifer link





[FAT] 2009 trio collection salvation  (with designers shilo morton of empire jewellery and kat o'shaugnessy of magdelina designs):







[FAT] 2008 joint collection resurrection (with kat o'shaugnessy of magdelina designs)