The catwalks are back – and these designers are celebrating with maximalist designs, social commentary and gender-defying styles.
To see what the future holds for Canadian fashion, look no further than Fashion art in Toronto (FAT). After two years of virtual events, the city’s fashion week has returned to in-person sartorial presentations. From May 6 to 8, 40 designers gathered to present their latest collections on the catwalk of the Design Exchange in Toronto. The theme of the weekend? OpenHaus: a nod to 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, the creators used the track to tell their own story.
Below, check out five names that stood out during Toronto’s longest-running fashion week.
You can recognize Charles Lu as Netflix Contest Rising Star Next in fashion. The Hamilton-born designer became known for his tailoring and carefully constructed evening wear. And at FAT, he launched his very first namesake collection with a line that blurred the line between streetwear and high fashion. Lu paired modern corsets and trailing capes with dangling laces, hooded fabrics and caps to create an edgy combination of both styles. Featuring clean lines in shades of black, white and gray, the line was produced entirely by Lu during the pandemic. As the designer put it, it tells a story about “fighting the struggles of perseverance”.
Streetwear designer Drakes don’t hesitate to make yourself uncomfortable. At FAT, her parade was introduced by howling sirens with flashing blue and red lights. This set the tone for his “Threat to Venice” line, which is aimed at criminalization of streetwear styles worn in black communities and in the 90s and early 2000s as part of hip-hop culture. Garments featured see-through pockets with exposed IDs, models wore ski goggles and hoodies, and handheld accessories — like a gun, liquor bottle, and ax — were meant to evoke a feeling of danger. The collection comments on how the communities that popularized mainstream streetwear have long been seen as threatening. Launched in 2015, the clothing brand is known for its rebellious aesthetic and the cultural context woven into its clothes.
Andrea DeSilva has one premise for the styles she creates: “Live. Laugh. Love…and, look exceptionally fabulous. The designer’s underlying passion for empowering wearers manifests in her brand’s whimsical yet versatile offerings of women’s fashion, children’s clothing and dog designs. Silva hitThe latest collection from, aptly named “LOL (Live Out Loud)”, is all about having fun with fashion, even in tough times. From a micro-mini skirt with a shimmering gold train to a bright yellow hoop dress, Silva Minted brought drama to the FAT runway. The brand’s empowerment mantra extends to its sales model: for every purchase made, a portion is donated to The Selfie Foundationwhich provides resources to women in transition.
Mic’s Uomo Strano. Carter
The Uomo Strano (Italian for “strange man”) creates thoughtful narratives through genre-erasing designs. Known for clothes that are body and gender inclusive, designer Mic. Andrew Carter weaves messages of social justice and activism into his dynamic work. Take his latest collection, “20,” which follows a queer collective as they travel back in time to disrupt disastrous moments in history, from the transatlantic slave trade to the far-right anti-vaxxer movement. Hot pink, layered patterns, pointed shoulders and delicate white lace details are just a few of the elements that make up Carter’s subversive collection. From ballroom aesthetics to avant-garde fetishism and surrealism, L’Uomo Strano can’t be identified — and that’s the point.
Omobolanle Adesiyan draws inspiration from his hometown of Lagos, Nigeria to create vibrant designs for his brand Qweenfecy Clothing. Created in 2019, her line features bright, bold textiles and intricate patterns that channel the richness of African culture. The presentation of her latest collection, “Royal”, was a musical celebration of ornate glamour. A singer dressed in a colorful costume circled the runway as models danced in opulent outfits, including towering headpieces, chunky gold jewelry and regal dresses with long trains. With a fashion show that was nothing short of a party, Qweenfecy Clothing continued its self-proclaimed mission to bring “joy and confidence” not only to the people who wear the clothes, but also to those who look at them.