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Becoming Halifax

Colin J. Muise’s exhibit at Nocturne turns Halifax landmarks into wearable fashion

Colin J. Muise (@colinjmuise) sparked joy and reimagination while debuting new additions to his collection of wearable Halifax landmarks last Saturday, Oct. 15 during Nocturne: Art at Night. The exhibit, entitled Becoming Halifax, comes nearly two years into his journey as a self-taught designer.

Beginnings

Muise’s artistry began with photography, exploring self-portraiture in his free time, a passion he continues to nurture amongst other art forms. 

He had previously completed a few thrift-flip projects, customizing his wardrobe with ethical and sustainable pieces. It was then that he decided to challenge his skill set on the sewing machine with a homemade dress and headpiece designed to look like Peggy’s Cove for Halloween 2021. He didn’t expect for this project to blow up online and open a door to what has become a passion project and an all-consuming evening job. 

Becoming Halifax

On Saturday evening, the entrance to the Nova Scotia Power building collected dozens of boardwalk strollers and fans in anticipation of Muise’s first show of Nocturne 2023.

Eight models embodied Muise’s designs: Peggy’s Cove, the Town Clock on Citadel Hill, the wave, the Dartmouth smokestacks, the Halifax Common fountain, Purdy’s Wharf, Dingle Tower and the Dartmouth ferry all strutted across the runway.

Each model was statuesque and serious, a contrast to Muise’s comedic online presence, allowing the story of each landmark to come through. 

The artist talk

At his artist talk the day before the show, Muise shared his meticulous, architectural process with the audience. These involved pages of sketches, calculations and various prototypes to ensure the feelings evoked by each monument are preserved in the scaled-down dimensions. 

While a perfectionist in his own right, Muise jokes that his followers keep him accountable to executing the smallest details, noting there’s always someone in the comments willing to count the windows and keep him honest. 

The pieces in  “Becoming Halifax” rely on his capacity for crafting and involve far more than textiles as he experiments with electricity, turf, shower curtains and seemingly everything in between.

Photo by Emma MacDonald

Muise’s mission

Sitting in the fifth floor lounge of the Halifax Central Library, Muise shared his excitement for other monuments he could interpret through fashion. A mock-up of the library itself was on the screen beside him in an almost-meta moment. 

Muise wants to continue to branch off from the “Tripadvisor Halifax must-see list” and encourage people to look at elements of their daily commute or view with a refreshed perspective. 

After sharing his Purdy’s Wharf jacket online, it occurred to him that interpreting the mundane was a way to connect more people and question what qualifies as a landmark. “People enjoyed seeing elements of their daily lives immortalized in fashion,” said Muise.

As he continues to develop as a designer and gravitate towards abstract renditions, it will be exciting to see what Muise does next. 

Whether you’re new to Halifax or a lifelong local, Muise’s interpretations of the structures many of us have grown to underappreciate will instill you with a sense of childlike rediscovery.

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