Runway shows are back — and these designers are celebrating with maximalist patterns, social commentary and genre-defying styles.
To see what the future holds for Canadian fashion, look no further than Fashion Art Toronto (FAT). After two years of virtual events, the city’s fashion week made its return to in-person sartorial presentations. From May 6 to 8, 40 designers came together to showcase their latest collections on the runway at Toronto’s Design Exchange venue. The theme for the weekend? OpenHaus: a nod to the FAT’s commitment to inclusivity.
As a launchpad for emerging designers, Fashion Art Toronto 2022 was the ultimate celebration of Canadian creativity. From heartfelt reflections on the past two years to poignant political commentary and genre-defying futurism, designers used the runway to tell their own story.
Below, see five names that stood out during Toronto’s longest-running fashion week.
You may recognize Charles Lu as the rising star on the Netflix competition show Next In Fashion. The Hamilton-born designer has become known for his carefully constructed couture and eveningwear. And at FAT, he debuted his first-ever namesake collection with a line that blurred the divide between streetwear and high fashion. Lu paired modern corsets and trailing capes with dangling laces, hoodie fabrics and ball caps to create an avant-garde combination of the two styles. Featuring clean-cut lines in tones of black, white and grey, the line was produced entirely by Lu during the pandemic. As the designer put it, it tells a story about “combating the struggles of perseverance.”
Streetwear designer Drakes doesn’t mind making you uncomfortable. At FAT, his runway show was introduced by wailing sirens with flashing blue and red lights. This set the tone for his line, “Menace in Venice,” which addresses the criminalization of streetwear styles worn in Black communities and in the ‘90s and early 2000s as part of hip-hop culture. Clothes featured clear pockets with IDs on display, models wore ski masks and hoodies, and hand-held accessories — like a gun, liquor bottle and an axe — were meant to evoke a feeling of danger. The collection comments on how the communities that popularized mainstream streetwear have long been deemed menacing. Launched in 2015, the clothing label is known for its rebellious aesthetic and the cultural context weaved into its garments.
Andrea DeSilva has a premise for the styles she creates: “Live. Laugh. Love… and, Look exceptionally fabulous.” The designer’s underlying passion for empowering wearers comes out in her label’s fanciful yet versatile offerings of women’s fashion, children’s clothing and designs for dogs. Silva Minted’s latest collection, appropriately named “LOL (Live Out Loud),” is about having fun with fashion, even during difficult times. From a micro-mini skirt embellished with a glistening gold train to a bright yellow hoop dress, Silva Minted brought drama to the runway at FAT. The brand’s empowerment mantra extends to its sales model: with every purchase made, a portion goes to The Selfie Foundation, which provides resources to women in transitional living situations.
L’Uomo Strano by Mic. Carter
L’Uomo Strano (Italian for “the strange man”) crafts thoughtful narratives through genre-eradicating designs. Known for his body- and gender-inclusive attire, designer Mic. Andrew Carter weaves messages of social justice and activism into his vivacious work. Take his latest collection, “20,” which follows a queer collective who travel through time to disrupt disastrous moments in history, from the Transatlantic Slave Trade to the far-right anti-vaxxer movement. Hot pink, layered patterns, spiky power shoulders and delicate white lace detailing are just some of the elements that make up Carter’s subversive collection. From ballroom aesthetics to fetishwear and avant-garde surrealism, L’Uomo Strano can’t be pinned down — and that’s the point.
Omobolanle Adesiyan takes inspiration from her hometown of Lagos, Nigeria to create vibrant designs for her brand Qweenfecy Clothing. Established in 2019, her line features bright, bold textiles and intricate patterns that channel the richness of African culture. The presentation for her latest collection, “Royal,” was a musical celebration of ornate glamour. A singer donning a colourful suit circled the runway while models danced in opulent garb, including towering headpieces, chunky gold jewelry and regal hoop dresses with long trains. With a fashion show that was nothing short of a party, Qweenfecy Clothing followed through on its self-declared mission of bringing “joy and confidence” to not only the people wearing the clothes but those viewing them.