This week I had the honour to both model at and attend Fashion Art Toronto. Fashion Art Toronto, directed by Vanja Vasic, is now the most long standing fashion show in the city. With 40 designers being showcased over three days, it is an amazing event for networking, to experience fashion, performance, music, art, all under one roof. I was able to see 14 shows, and I was blown away by Black creators the most.
Several Black designers (L’uomo Strano, Qweenfecy Clothing, Thee3 Inception Collection, thebabagang) all took fashion the next level and made the shows unique, diverse, and not something you would expect of a fashion show.
TheBabaGang had strong fashion tech influence. Viewers were encouraged to use phones to scan the designs of the clothes like QR codes. Models featured afros, bantu knots, braids and had a greta afro-influence to them. The final look featured a Black man, beatened, staggering his way across the runway and raising his fist to the air – which I felt was a great way to bring big, heavy, conversation to an area where we often shove those things aside. Clothes don’t change being perceived as Black first or give Black people entrance to a room.
Thee3 Inception Collection had a lot of edgy looks created with various textiles ranging from silk to full denim fits. What I found so noticeable about this collection was the power and energy in which models walked in their outfits. They exuded the confidence that these clothes demanded. After several shows, their pacing and energy brought in a vibe I was waiting for.
L'uomo Strano has been a brand I have consistently been in awe of. Pieces are dramatic, gown like waterfalls of fabric with interesting cuts, and sharp angles. I saw shoulders pointed taller than the heads of the models, sheer pieces, masks, tufts of taffeta, some near-nudity and long trains all in the name of artistic expression. The entire walk also featured a live rapper and DJ keeping the pace, which was changed from other shows as they changed the rooms seating to almost create a walk that was shaped like a B as opposed to the square shape everyone else had walked with. All of these additional elements blew other shows I had seen out of the water. The conceptualization was more than just the fashion on models. It was the clothes, models, music, pacing, walking – everything purposefully done to set a scene and immerse participants into L’uomo Strano’s perspective.
The show that closed the entire evening had me, in all honesty, in tears. Qweenfecy Clothing also created a fashion show that was not a show, but an experience. Immediately opening we had a gentleman rapping and singing while continuously walking along the runway as models walked too. Clothes all had traditional African print, some people had crowns, props that looked almost like brooms or wheat stalks. Models were dancing, smiling, laughing, engaged with the gentleman performing and audience. I got emotional when several little girls were also walking. Something about the way Black people have been historically treated and how much we have overcome so that these little g
irls could be there in that moment experiencing standing ovations and hoots-and-hollers shook me to my core. In the same way that a lot of white people will say veterans fought for freedom, slaves were resilient and people immigrated to this country for these moments.
What further impressed me, about all of these brands, is the numerous white people included in these walks. Of course, nothing was exclusionary. White models wore what we consider traditional prints, they danced, they partook – and this is what we have been pushing for, what people like Christine and Rufina of United Colours of Fashion are working toward. It is an understanding that if you share in our culture, in a respectful way, we can all vibe and party and laugh together. Fashion Art Toronto was just that, a coming together of cultures through the themes of Fashion and Art, and this coming together for the Black creators was executed in a way that went above and beyond.
Congratulations to all involved.