This year’s 7th annual African Fashion Week Toronto (AFWT) was a whirlwind of activity that your girls from The Long & Short of Style were more than happy to be caught up in! Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, this year’s AFWT transported us into a world of vibrant colour, eye catching prints, cutting edge design and couture glamour, but unlike Dorothy, we did not want to go home! Taking over the 7th floor and roof top patio of “Spaces” in the downtown Entertainment District for the kick off event last Thursday, attendees were treated to what one might liken to an “amuse bouche” of gorgeous designs to wet our collective appetites for the weekend to come! Well, let me tell you, they succeeded! The beautiful creations left us panting for more and swarming like bees to capture the magnificence of each look!
Then, like true fashion devotees, we made our daily pilgrimage to the hallowed halls of Branksome Hall for the nightly runway shows. Each and every show was a delight for the senses. From the men taking to the catwalk like Kings to the ladies floating down the runway like Queens, designers like Abiola Akinsiku of Precious Threads by Abiola and Kyle Gervacy swathed their models in pieces that were whimsical and edgy, or sometimes classical and understated, but always unique and quite often exceptional.
Pheo Couture runway show
House of Ruth & NBL Couture runway shows
But y’all, that was not all. The catwalk was not the only place we were dazzled by decadent designs! The AFWT attendees did not come to play. These ladies and gents dressed to impress as only the descendants of Kings and Queens can! We could all but see the crowns on each and every head! We oohed and awed, gaped and gushed over so many looks, but as always, there were just those few that took it to another level! So much so, that we decided to create our own awards for best dressed male and female.
Yet another treat that had us in rapture this weekend was the photography exhibition of Osato Erebor. Her beautiful pieces were on display over the weekend, showcasing stunning images of models wearing the work of noted Toronto African designers. To say the collection was breathtaking would be an understatement.
The industry awards gala rounded out the weekend. We finally got to find out who would take home the coveted honour of Ladies Wear Designer of the Year, Menswear Designer of the Year and Emerging Designer of the Year. The winners are:
Ladies Wear Designer of the Year: Catherine Addai, Kaela Kay
Menswear Designer of the Year: Pheo Ocansey, Pheo Couture (award accepted by Montaniel on the left); Damilola Omotayo, Rising Star Male Model of the Year winner on right
Emerging Designer of the Year: Eugénie Ajdoa, Nykwale
The festivities ended on a high note, with the King of Couture, Adebayo Jones, presenting his new collection that just took our breath away!
All in all, it was a weekend chalk full of the lions of couture, titans of the industry and the bears of African Fashion!
And that’s the long & short of it!
Gail & Leslie xoxo
Photography credit: Roseline Bonheur