African Fashion Week Toronto 2015

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Cocody Collections from Montreal. Photo by Ivy Prosper

The 3rd Annual African Fashion Week Toronto was filled with an array of diverse designers who travelled far and wide to showcase their work as part of this fashion extravaganza.  African Fashion Week Toronto is an opportunity for designers from Africa and the African diaspora to have a platform to show their designs on the runway.

Myself with Isaac Ansah, the Co-Founder of African Fashion Week Toronto
Myself with Isaac Ansah, the Co-Founder of African Fashion Week Toronto

It was co-Founders Isaac Ansah and Anita Aboagye who shared the vision over three years ago to provide a setting for a group of diverse and talented designers to show their work in Toronto, Canada.  Not only does it allow local designers of the African diaspora to present their collections on the runway, but it also gives International designers a chance to show their line in another country that would otherwise have not had open slots for them during the regular Toronto Fashion Week.

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This year’s 4-day event featured a range of emerging and established designers who use a little bit of African influence in the way they create their clothing. Whether it’s by choice of fabric, or design details, they all had a little bit of Africa on the runway.  It was quite fitting that AFWT strarted off by allowing student designers present their collections, while providing an audience to see what the future of African fashion designers have in store.  Kyle Gervacy, by Kadeem Faustin, who is of St. Lucian heritage, won for Student Designer of the Year.

Shakad, from Barbados at African Fashion Week Toronto 2015. Photo by Ivy Prosper
Shakad, from Barbados at African Fashion Week Toronto 2015. Photo by Ivy Prosper

International designers like, Shakad, from Barbados, represented the talent in the diaspora who continue draw sources of inspiration not only from their own environments but also from the beauty of the continent.  Her collection was created using hand dyed fabrics, making each piece unique.  The garments are created using a focus on expressing the freedom of effortless beauty.

Issa Sorogo was born in Ivory Coast, but is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia.  He initially had a career in the fashion business as a model and later launched his label Soro ‘Bis in 1998.  It’s only natural considering his father was a well-known tailor in Ivory Coast and in neighboring West African countries. that he venture into creating well-tailored garments.  His collection was absolutely flawless. his use of colour, the cut and fit were beautifully done.

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Myself with the models and designer himself. Soro ‘Bis.
Black Trash Clothing from Botswana.
Black Trash Clothing from Botswana.

Last year’s winner of Best International Designers, Black Trash Clothing from Botswana were a crowd favourite and they certainly didn’t disappoint with their runway show.  Their clothing brings together African style with a little rock ‘n’ roll edge.  Their creations are distinctive from others in the way they cut the lines and silhouettes.    They can be described as Africa’s edgy, modern designers.

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Myself as Host at the African Fashion Industry Awards. Caught me in the middle of talking here. Image from Instagram @africanfashionweek.

The final night featured the 2nd Annual African Fashion Industry Awards (AFIA), celebrating the achievements of the Pan-African fashion industry.  I was honoured to have been the Host of the event.  Several talented artists were honoured including Toronto-based Ghanaian designer, Catherine Addai, of Kaela Kay, winner of Best African Canadian Ladieswear Designer. Husband and wife design-duo for Cocody Collections, based in Montreal won for Best African Canadian Men’s Wear Designer.     Supermodel Alek Wek, was honoured for Model Excellence.  Sadly she was unable to attend the event, but it was wonderful to celebrate a woman like herself who broke the mould on the standard of beauty in the fashion business.  Because of her, it’s opened doors to many others who came after.

Adebayo Jones runway show. Image: Toronto Star.

London-based Nigerian designer Adebayo Jones, known as the King of Couture, was also honoured for his body of work.  He surprised attendees when accepting his award by opening into a song he felt compelled to sing in honour of praising God for all his success and many blessings through his career.  Jones, who is known as the ‘King of Couture’ has three decades of experience and is one of the most successful African designers worldwide.  His work proves that there are talented African designers and his attendance at the event was truly amazing.  His runway show was simply spectacular and the perfect way to end the evening.  It was luxury at it’s best and the perfect way to close out African Fashion Week Toronto.

Photos by Ivy Prosper

Additonal: Photos by Che Rosales Photography and Toronto Star

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