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Official FAT Recap - Day 1 SS24



Fashion Art Toronto’s 1664 Fashion Week SS24 season - one of the most highly anticipated events in the Greater Toronto Area - was the action packed spectacle that we’ve come to expect. With 3 shows and 5 designers, opening night is when the heavy hitters come to play. Expertly curated by FAT Director and Founder Vanja Vasic, the audience experienced the whole spectrum of fashion genres from some of Canada’s greatest creative minds. 


The runway room of Fashion Art Toronto's 1664 Fashion Week, SS24.

Photo by Rory Creelman.



SIGNED BY DAHLIAH - 7:30 PM


Kicking off the Fashion Art Toronto Spring 2024 season, Signed by Dahliah’s “Ethereal Bloom” collection was a perfect way to set the tone. To a cheerful, soulful blend of upbeat and confident pop, the presentation of vibrant florals and frilly silhouettes included 3 opening looks inspired by the visual branding of 1664 Canada, who sponsored designer Courtney Reid’s show in the first place. (Read our interview with Reid here to learn more about how this serendipitous collaboration came to life.) 


The 3 opening outfits used a bold blue and dusty pink, a direct homage to the 1664 bottle design and the launch of their new rosé beer for fashion week. Various motifs from the brand were cleverly incorporated, ranging in levels of subtlety. 


The remainder of the collection continued with a creamy, soft palette and shiny, luxurious satins. Reid, whose work is primarily inspired by flowers, did not shy away from leaning into the theme. The floral earrings she designed seemed to get larger and longer as the collection progressed. The models moved elegantly and ethereally, their hair snatched into long straight braids and ponytails. 




"Ethereal Bloom", Signed by Dahliah. Fashion Art Toronto's 1664 Fashion Week SS23.

Photography by Matt Reid.


The garments themselves were even constructed like flowers - skirts shaped like upside-down tulips and roses, collars separated into petal-like segments. Even the menswear had elegant floral touches - beaded cherry blossom patterns on one shoulder, a long tassel hanging from the pocket reminiscent of the tubular pistils in the center of some flowers. The cherry blossom design was featured more prominently on an efflorescent sheer robe as well as the final look - a graceful dress with a flared skirt and a beautiful headpiece, constructed from the same material as the garments, with white flowers framing the face.


Overall, spirits were high as a diverse cast of high energy models walked down the runway and blew kisses to the audience. The collection was a heartfelt celebration of the life that blossoms in the soft spring air.



PRESCRIBED SHELTER - 8:30 PM


In an intriguingly dramatic tone shift, Prescribed Shelter was the next to present. Having shown with Fashion Art Toronto many times previously, the elevated streetwear brand helmed by Jesse Woon Sam packs a powerful punch in their presentations. “Research & Development”, their most recent collection, was all about experimentation for the label. Indeed, an undeniably unique - and brilliantly executed - showcase followed. 


The show was introduced with a short film playing on the large screen at the end of the runway - narrated by a character called Lolo from ‘Prescribed Radio’, who starts with a call to all Black artists.  What followed was a montage of Black creatives expressing themselves artistically in various ways such as making music, tattooing, and spray painting graffiti as Lolo encouraged them to “look inside, find your voice and use that shit”. 


While most “streetwear” is known to incorporate major fitness brands (Nike or Adidas, for example) and often includes sneakers, tracksuits and workout gear, PRESCRIBED SHELTER took it to the next level. Models donned football equipment, ski gear, knee and elbow pads - even a full ghillie suit in one case. Some accessories were branded with “PRESCRIBED SHELTER” or an “RX'' prescription logo - goggles, ski masks, socks peeking over heavy boots and on the elastic bands of boxers peeking over baggy, low-rise jeans. 


Leaning further into the “prescription” element, garments also featured a giant paper prescription, reading “Prescribed Person, Wear Once Daily”. Some military aesthetics were also introduced, including camouflage, army hats and even bulletproof vests (the effectiveness of which were fortunately not tested in the runway room). A model brandished a gas mask in their hand, another a combat helmet. 


While primarily black and grey, a current of neon green and yellow ran through the collection, present in gloves, sleeves and balaclavas. An electric blue popped in light-wash denim and typeface on the sides of sweatpants. A rather striking detail came with two models’ who even had hairstyles (courtesy of the hair team, led by Creative Hair Director Dylan Cruikshank) matching the collection’s colourways. One half of a model’s head wove black and bright yellow in braids, and the next had dramatic punk spikes with a green stripe (with matching green sunglasses to boot). 




"Research & Development", Prescribed Shelter. Fashion Art Toronto's 1664 Fashion Week SS23.

Photography by Matt Reid.


Some of the models looked as if they had just come from battle themselves - with kohl-like streaks on their faces in what Creative Makeup Director Jez Taylor described as “dystopian rockstar vibes”. Some garments themselves were pre-dirtied with similar black smears, adding further legitimacy to the idea that the models just came from the ATV track. 


The undertones of resistance and rebellion against oppressive structures of power woven throughout the collection were heavy, but absolutely necessary, especially in today's social and political climate.



OAMA - 9:00 PM


In yet another delightfully stark contrast from the previous show, Nigerian-born brand OAMA promised to bring us to “the enchanting allure of nature” with their Summer Symphony collection. Designer Doyin Amao, whose mission is to “celebrate the vibrant spirit of Nigeria through our resortwear and loungewear,” hit us with a foray of vivid neons right out of the gate. Inspired by “the serene beauty of meadows and the rejuvenating spirit of the outdoors,” a vibrant rainbow of hot pink, royal blue, fluorescent orange and lush green dominated the collection. 


A jazzy opening beat set the scene. A line-up of models wore traditional afro-centric styles, from natural textures to delicate braids. In the mix of dresses (and even a pantsuit!) were a solid colour, but a few looks sprinkled within featured an absolutely beautiful fabric - an almost patchwork of silk, mix-matching ombre waves, polka dots and black stripes that were reminiscent of verdant landscapes. The gowns accentuated the models’ curves, some adorned with subtle textures - a giant puff of a maribou sleeve, or a frilly feathered train.  Also quite prominent was the inclusion of thick wooden beads, adorning straps and intertwined into models' hair. 


One outfit gave us a bit of pause as it came down the runway - a stark white tailored shirtdress with ballooning bell sleeves - where had all the colour gone? But our question was answered as the model passed, revealing an open back with pastel pink and green tulle flowers affixed to the garment in vertical streams - almost like angel’s wings.




 "A Summer Symphony", OAMA. Fashion Art Toronto's 1664 Fashion Week SS23.

Photography by Matt Reid.


Arguably, the pièce de résistance of the lineup were handbags provided by Nigerian brand (and twice featured Fashion Art Toronto Shop vendor) Afrique Kod, who’s structured beaded purses are works of art in themselves. 


The collection was infused with confidence - cute, flirty, sophisticated and fun. Undeniably, Summer Symphony delivered on its promise to usher in the warmer season, dusting us off from the proverbial cobwebs of winter and giving us a yearning for brighter, sunnier times - hazy summer days and crisp twilight skies. 



KYLE GERVACY - 9:00 PM


Having shown numerous collections over just as many years, Kyle Gervacy has cemented himself as a staple of Fashion Art Toronto. He is known for tackling broad concepts with his collections and his vulnerability in the execution, almost as if it is an extension of himself. The inspiration behind “Intersect”, Gervacy describes, is “the embracing of beauty in contrast and the allure of harmonious contradiction.” He aims to tackle themes of synchronization between “the good, the bad, the possible and the impossible” crossing paths and acknowledging their necessity to coexist. 


The show begins with a woman speaking French, a direct nod to Gervacy’s French Creole heritage. The word “Kadeau”, Gervacy’s childhood nickname, was repeated over and over throughout, soothing the audience into a trance-like state. 


Experimenting with drapery and form, Gervacy’s garments took on a muted colour scheme this season, moving through tones of mossy green, silver, and navy. If the fabrics weren’t shiny satins, they featured a sort of circular mesh cutaway design. They were often accessorized with large rectangles of a metallic silver wrapped around their waists or chests, creating a visually interesting contrast.


Models’ outfits took on an experimental cut, featuring blazers and tops positioned just so, or cutaway, to expose shoulders and backs. Deep v-cuts were featured heavily on tops, with exaggerated slits on skirts going past the hips. While garments seemed loose, they were also wrapped tight, cinched at waists for an exaggerated look. 


Their hair was piled atop their heads in large buns, ranging from messy to sleek, or adorned with beaded headpieces that draped gracefully over their foreheads. The headwear, as well as the statement jewelry provided by Famluxy, added a dazzling element of elevation to the featured designs. 




"Intersect", Kyle Gervacy. Fashion Art Toronto's 1664 Fashion Week SS23.

Photography by Matt Reid.


The show was soundtracked by Kyle himself, opening with a background track commissioned specifically for this season’s display. Later on, the music was taken over by singer Katrina Anastasia, who performed her single “Free Your Mind (Deluxe)” while donning a Gervacy original herself (according to Anastasia, Gervacy had reached out to her because the catchy tune was stuck in his head). A man carrying a large drum strapped to his chest made an appearance as well, matching his beats to the rhythm of the song. 


The finale was an amalgam of all we had seen so far, but with a grand finish - a hooded robe with angular shoulders and a large train that swept the audience’s ankles as the model walked past. From the models’ intense expressions and swift movements, it was clear that the audience was witnessing more than just a fashion show; they were being presented with a statement. The Sci-Fi aesthetic, a clear inspiration for Gervacy, is often rooted in minimalism and neutrality. Yet, Gervacy’s infusion of strong cultural prints and performances within the style offers the viewer a completely new view on what the future may resemble.



ALI HAIDER - 9:00 PM


Ali Haider has not presented a Fashion Art Toronto collection in almost 4 years - his last being an aquatic-themed immersive crochet experience, “Ontario Coral Reef” (which you can watch here) for our Virtual Runway Series in 2020. For those who have been attending FAT for years, his return was highly anticipated. The craftsmanship that he brings to his designs is unparalleled, and “Gallows Humour” was no exception. 


The collection was “an exploration of beauty in the darkness”. Haider cited themes of death, tragedy, but ultimately inspiration and hope, when we are faced with the reality of war on social media. The result was a stunning 13-piece showcase of luxury, entirely a somber black and silver, with glittering rhinestone and sequined accentuations. Eagle-eyed attendees picked up on various references to various tragedies - a watermelon purse, for example, was a nod to the Free Palestine movement. “That one was the most obvious,” Haider, who has Pakistani heritage, said after his show, alluding to more subtle easter eggs sprinkled throughout the collection. 


With a keen sensibility for detail, many of the pieces displayed patterns entirely created through beading and embroidery - a long black blazer, for example, had hundreds of silver beads sewn onto it to create an olive branch ornamentation. The olives themselves were represented by large crystals (the olive branch being universally known as a symbol for peace). Many of the base garments were sheer or solid black, allowing the embellishments to stand out, be it x’s, stripes or harlequin checks. 


A flame pattern was embroidered onto shorts and vests - one look even featuring a flame-adorned bra and matching fascinator. Headpieces have been consistent in Haider’s work, and they were ever-present here as well. One look featured a feather sticking straight up out of the models head, another was black flowers held up by silver wire. Most notably was the alligator skull, a giant arrow piercing its mouth with a large, fluffy feather on the end. This detail, Haider confirms, represents the animals who have starved to death in Gaza zoos during the ongoing humanitarian crisis. The audience was touched as Haider made his finale walk, seemingly overcome with emotion. 




"Gallows Humour", Ali Haider. Fashion Art Toronto's 1664 Fashion Week SS23.

Photography by Matt Reid.


While the beauty and intricacy of Ali Haider’s collection “Gallows Humour” was absolutely mesmerizing, conceptually the show was far more than a display of vanity. Beyond all the luxurious beading and beaming rhinestones was a message directed towards those who have turned a blind eye when it comes to the destruction and war crimes broadcasted daily to us, directly from our phones.


Fashion Art Toronto is more than a space where those who are fashion oriented can unite twice a year; it is a network of support that gives voices to those who may be underrepresented in society. In times of deep mourning and desperation, artists such as Haider remind us that those directly affected by these circumstances are human beings with complex, beautiful lived experiences, not just victims.



The opening night of Fashion Art Toronto SS24 was a diverse selection of Canadian fashion, perfectly executed as one of their most ambitious projects in their nineteen-year run. 

Join us later this week for our official recap of Day 2, to catch up on anything you may have missed during Toronto Fashion Week.

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