Looking back: 21 favourite moments at Toronto Fashion Week

July 8, 2016

Almost exactly four years ago, IMG Canada became the owner and producer of Toronto Fashion Week. At that time, we had reached out to some of Canada’s leading fashion figures to gather their thoughts and reactions to this important change.

Yesterday, IMG announced that they will no longer be involved with the event, and this was widely reported by Canadian Press and many other news outlets.

As industry insiders and general public alike debate on the future of fashion week in Toronto — seeing TFW’s importance as the second largest fashion week in North America — we reached out to designers, publicists, modelling agency owners and other dedicated attendees to ask them what has been their favourite TFW moment over the years and why.

Here is what they told us, together with the photos they sent, documenting each moment. These are moments of happiness, hard work and special memories for all.

Adam Taubenfligel, designer

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“My favorite moment of TFW would have to be backstage, just before the show is about to begin. Suddenly, all of your work from the last six months comes down to this moment.

“It’s so chaotic backstage but somehow it feels calm, likely because everyone around you is in a state of flow, doing what they love. I remember looking around last season and seeing all of these people working tirelessly to make our show the best it can be. Most of us on about five hours of sleep a night all week. From hair and make-up doing last-minute touch-ups, to the models queuing up and the amazing volunteers straightening out the looks on models. Everyone bringing our vision to reality. Press is taking photos and mentors are standing watch, it’s a surreal experience.

“Before you know it I hear the show music and beg for five more minutes, my request is denied and the first model goes out, now all we can do is watch the magic unfold on the screen, and you know it is thanks to all the amazing people in that backstage room with you.  It isn’t until Ania and I go to take our bow that I get a feel for the support of our community, a packed house, smiles all around, especially on my face.”

Angie Sakla-Seymour, owner, Angie’s AMTI

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“My favourite moment of TFW was attending the shows with my daughter Helena-Alexis Seymour, and waiting for our models to come and grace the runway for their first time. It was a feeling that can’t be explained. Plus, the designers would always have a special seat for us in the first row.

“Also, making our first connection with the fabulous David Dixon! He still remembers Herieth Paul’s first walk for him.”

Anjli Patel, fashion lawyer

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“All of my favourite moments at TFW include my husband Parambir. We are lucky to share a passion for Canadian design and TFW has allowed us to explore that interest and find our tribe.

“This photo was taken in October 2014 by Stefania Yarhi outside the tents. The Parliament Hill shootings were on Wednesday of fashion week, which is when she posted this photo to Instagram with the following caption: ’I want to dedicate today to love. All my love and positive thoughts are going to Ottawa. To the police, first responders, its people, and to our fallen soldier and his family. This is such a terrible day. Love more!’”

Casie Stewart, blogger

Casie Stewart.

“My first documented blog about TFW was in 2011 and I remember being so excited to sit down at a show, nothing like your first seat with your name on it.

“In spring of 2012, I walked in the Dare to Wear Love show. Backstage Jeanne Beker was interviewing Greta Constantine for Fashion Television and I was making jokes with Ainsley Kerr. FT ended a month later and that night holds so many fond memories.

“The infamous Target Lounge is also not to be forgotten!”

Élana Camille, illustrator and blogger

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“I would always look forward to the Pink Tartan shows. This particular look just spoke to me on so many different levels!

“That’s why Toronto Fashion Week was and is so important; it gave Canadian designers a platform to showcase their designs to the world. It also connected people within the industry.”

Farley Chatto, designer

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“There are many favourite moments — the team work: my friends (hair & make-up artists, models & dressers) coming to ‘play dress up’ with me. Yet, my favourite moment at TFW (or any fashion week around the world!) is the interviews after the show!

“I love seeing the relief, elation and excited reactions of the reporters/bloggers and public from the collection. As well, they love seeing exactly the same emotions we express. It is that moment of perfect coupling of complete and utter bliss with sadness — that months of hard work are over, and yet knowing that the harder work is about to start: selling of the collection!

“Designer after designer, we all have that same look on our face — giddy exhaustion!”

Gail McInnes, communications director, Stylist Box

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“My favourite moment at TFW was the first Project Runway Canada show in October 2007, when TFW was L’Oreal Fashion Week and held at the tents at Nathan Phillips Square.

“It was our first glimpse at the designers who were selected as finalists in the reality show’s first of, sadly, only two seasons; including Lucian Matis and Evan Biddell.

“Iman came to town to host the show; she was captivating and otherworldly.”

Janette Ewen, stylist (interiors/fashion) and designer, Parker Barrow

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“Toronto fashion week, what can I say … I can’t pick one moment that was the most important to me!

“Just being there was a dream come true … from the first time Lisa Tant passed me an invite (I was her loyal assistant at Chatelaine Magazine, way back when) to years later when Dan Levy and I were asked to co-host the launch of Target Canada. To more recently, working with designers including Lucian Matis, Matthew Gallagher and Caitlin Power as a stylist for PANDORA Jewelry.

“Toronto Fashion week has always had a special place in my heart. Small-town girl, big dreams … fashion week helped me realize many of these.”

Jon De Porter, designer

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“By strange coincidence, the first and last shows I ever saw at Fashion Week were both by David Dixon.

“His presentations were one of the few that truly moved me every time. With David, it was class all the way!

“The printed literature on every seat gave the show the feeling of a Parisian couture house and, at the same time, allowed us to understand the profound thought process behind each of his collections.

“I aspire to one day be able to touch people in the same way with my own work.”

Karine Delage, owner, Karyzma Agency

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“There are many memories for me, especially after working Fashion Week for 10 years.

“I would say that one of the biggest ones has to be David Dixon’s 20th anniversary. We literally took over the week and were even trending in Canada.

“David is a veteran and a mentor for so many in the industry, and to see everyone celebrating and embracing him the way they did was magical.”

Melina Morry, blogger

Ryan and Melina TFW 2014

“One of my favourite moments from Toronto Fashion Week (aside from dressing up in outrageously cool outfits) was introducing this little cutie, Ryan, to her first fashion week ever.

“I think it’s important to nurture kids’ interests – like fashion – and TFW was a great place to do that. She had a blast and I’ll never forget coming home and playing pretend ‘runway models’ with her all evening.”

Rachel Sin, designer

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“A memorable moment for me was at the start of the spring/summer 2016 runway show when Girlicious singer Chrystina Sayers walked onto the runway to open the show.

“She was wearing a gold sequin halter dress and I had forgotten we had #StayGold projected on the runway backdrop. We were watching this from a screen backstage and saw how perfect this image was.

“We didn’t plan for this coincidence, but you realize everything works subconsciously when you are so involved with producing a show. Everything was in line with our Stay Gold theme at that very moment.”

Rita Remark, lead nail artist and global lead educator, essie Canada

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“Canadian designers are always eager to try new things and take risks when it comes to nail art. However, rarely do I get the opportunity to use lots (and lots) of colour at Fashion Week.

“This technicolor manicure I designed for Hayley Elsaesser’s collection will always be one of my favourites. It was a showstopper on the runway.”

Som Kong, designer

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“This candid moment of Chantelle (famously known as Winnie Harlow) and I — backstage after my first collection debut at Toronto Fashion Week — is my favourite.

“A moment of gratitude for the hard-working and dedicated team that supported the vision and brand through thick and thin.

“And thank you to the contributors who make Toronto Fashion Week possible, from the volunteers, producers, directors, to the designers, models and audience. Without you there is no Fashion Week. Thank you and stay aweSOM.”

Stephen-Thomas Maciejowski, blogger

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“A favourite moment for me from the most recent TFW was going backstage after my dear friend Christopher Paunil showed for the first time there. He has been on the Toronto fashion scene for some time, but March 2016 was his first time presenting on the runway there.

“The energy backstage after the show was insane. Shortly after this pic was taken, it was back to reality as we all helped Chris and his business partner Chalo load the collection into an Uber to go back to the studio.”

Sunny Fong, designer

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“My favourite moment of fashion week has my spring/summer 2013 collection, inspired by Madonna and Frida Kahlo.

“It was when the models, video, music and outfits were all alighted … the runway lights flashed on at the drop of the beat and then the audience cheered! This is the climax of finishing the collection.”

Susan Langdon, executive director, Toronto Fashion Incubator

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“Back in 2010, I was thrilled to be asked by Mattel to customize a Barbie ‘Fashionista’ doll for display at Toronto Fashion Week.

“When I was a little girl, I loved dressing Barbie, so this opportunity gave me a chance to relive some of the happiest times in my life.

“I created a vegan leather, fringed dress for her to wear, a multi-chained necklace and wrapped her in faux fox for a very glam fashion-week look!”

Syed Sohail, blogger

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“My favourite moment at Toronto Fashion Week was my very first season of attending as a media member.

“It was a rush of excitement, meeting people who shared the same love I had for design and creating long-lasting friendships. It also opened myself to many doors by being able to meet numerous other creatives, photographers, media outlets, designers and public relations/marketing people.

“Toronto Fashion Week was a key contributor to my blog’s success.”

Talia Brown, stylist

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“My favourite moment was the Pavoni show with sparkles at the end. It stopped time.

“I believe in magic. I believe in dreams. I believe our bodies are our canvas. We are art, and clothing brings us to life. Dream as big as you can. Work your hardest to get where you want to be. It can all happen, one step at a time, new windows will open.”

Tarek Al-Azbat, designer

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“My favourite moment was when I got to see my own handbag collection coming down the runway. I worked with Whitney Linen in 2014. They presented our handbags and had the models strut the runway holding my creations. I was so excited. It felt good to know that all these eyes were checking out the handbags! Very cool.

“It felt like a dream come true. Every designer wants people to see their work, and fashion runways made it possible.”

Vedika Solecki, director, Sheek PR

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“My favourite moment of Fashion Week, even though I have many, was just seeing everyone together under one roof. We forget how busy we all get with working in the fashion industry and it was that time we all looked forward to: heading to the tents and just picking up where we left off.

“It was a week to be a part of something amazing and share it with everyone else. The best part I will miss: walking up to the tents and seeing everyone dressed up …

“This is truly going to be upsetting for a while, however, I really hope we can take this negative and make it something positive!”

Photo credits:
Photo of Pavoni runway show by FAJO’s Robin Gartner.
Photos of Casie Stewart and Nella Bella on the runway by George Pimentel.
Photo of Vedika Solecki by Mauricio J. Calero.
Photo of Chrystina Sayers wearing Rachel Sin by Peter Jung.
Photo of VAWK on the runway by Chris Vassálos.

Photo of Anjli Patel by Stefania Yarhi.
Photo of Adam and Ania Taubenfligel by Maloney Aguirre.
Photo of Syed Sohail by The Korean Barber.

Photo of Pink Tartan on the runway by Élana Camille.
Photo of Farley Chatto by his husband John Bradley.
Photo of Iman by Gail McInnes.
Photos of Angie Sakla-Seymour, Melina Morry, Stephen-Thomas Maciejowski, Som Kong and Rita Remark taken by them or their friends.
Photo of David Dixon’s runway show by Jon De Porter.
Photo of David Dixon with models by Karine Delage.

By Hannah Yakobi
Photography by / courtesy of each interviewee

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3 Comments »

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