Come True At FAT
Showcasing fashion presentations, performances and art featuring innovative Canadian designers and artists, Fashion Art Toronto has held yet another successful event in November for its Fall/Winter Fashion Week 2022 edition. Making the dreams of creators, who hope to break into the fashion industry, come true in one special night to celebrate fashion.
“Fashion Art Toronto was born as an ‘anti-fashion week’. This doesn’t mean it’s against fashion, or Fashion Week,” says Shira Karney, FAT’s Assistant Producer. “It means that the runway and representation of Fashion Art Toronto is to showcase all creatives, designs, and models without any descrimination or ‘boxes’ to fit into.”
As a result, Fashion Art Toronto becomes a unique event that offers its platform, or rather its runway for all kinds of people, who are not only aspiring designers, but also to aspiring models and everyone else who view fashion as their passion and might not ‘fit’ into a social norm of who ‘fashion’ is for.
“Do you want a runway full of sharks and aliens? Amazing! Let’s do it! Have people shot you down for modeling because you’re too ‘this’ or too ‘that’? Screw ‘em! Come try it out with us,” Karney says. “One of the first rules of fashion is that it is a playground, and Fashion Art Toronto works to expand abstract, playful, artistic ranges. Fashion Art Toronto prides itself in breaking the barriers placed in fashion.”
Safi’s first time at Fashion Week
Elena Safi or just Safi, which is the name she goes by now, is the designer behind Safi Creatives, the upcoming fashion brand that made its debut at Fashion Week in November.
The collection called ‘Kitoko Soul’ was inspired by her mother’s upbringing as she immigrated from Congo to Canada, and the contrast between the two cultures. “Just this year she finally returned home to visit Congo and it made me think about all the various changes in culture that have happened while she was away,” she says. “Changes in western/Canadian culture and changes in the Congolese traditions that she was accustomed to as a kid. With this idea, I wanted to build a collection that would merge some aspects of African Nature and textiles with my Canadian upbringing.”
The Kitoko Soul collection, Kitoko meaning ‘beautiful’ in Lingala, a Bantu language spoken in Congo. It was a way of beautifully mixing both worlds that resonates with not only Safi’s soul but with many other Canadians. “This collection would hopefully resonate with other people like me who weren’t brought up in their culture but are looking for a way to connect two sides of themselves together,” she says.
To put the whole collection together, Safi took two months from sketching and designing to sewing every single outfit. But fashion overall took a bit longer to really come to her and make her realize it was her true passion. Although Safi’s grandmother taught her how to knit, which led her to make knitted collections for her teddy bears, as she grew older she didn’t take fashion seriously.
“I would make pieces for myself to wear out once in a while but never took ‘fashion’ seriously because it was an art — and ‘you can’t make a career out of art’. It came down to a point in high school where I was really unsure of what to do moving forward to university” she says. “So, I took a year off and while I did that, I began sewing more and more and creating fun pieces out of old clothes. Eventually I realized that I would love to learn more about fashion and started going to school for it.”
“I’ve dreamt of doing a collection at Fashion Week since I was 15 years old. So having it come to fruition really is a testament to my capabilities and dreams.”
Studying Fashion at Seneca College, “I never thought I would do fashion shows until long after I had graduated but covid pushed me to take a year off of schooling,” she says. “I couldn’t sit and wait any longer so I told myself: ‘if I waited until I was perfectly ready, then I would be waiting forever.’ So I took the leap and started off with African Student Fashion week and from there I continued.”
One must not assume that this is Safi’s first runway show and collection, but it significantly is her most important one. “This collection is almost a call of ‘coming into my own’,” she says. “From my previous collection to now—I feel that there is more certainty and more confidence with my work.”
As this was Safi’s first show at Fashion Week, she couldn’t deny that one of her most desired dreams had finally come true. “I’ve dreamt of doing a collection at Fashion Week since I was 15 years old,” she says. “So having it come to fruition really is a testament to my capabilities and dreams.”
Safi’s goal is to expand her brand internationally in the future, as well as to gain more knowledge from the fashion industry. “Learn from different designers, embrace different cultures and textiles and host fashion shows and experiences that can display my understanding of life,” she says.
Just like FAT does, Safi also has plans to create her own platform for others to showcase their art. “I want to help support my local community and build a community centre for other youth to be able to practice their hobbies or give them accessibility to equipment so that the next generation can express their art,” she says. “In order to do that, I’ll continue creating and studying to elevate my skill and craft while also hopefully working alongside other designers. Regardless of where I go, I want my pieces to continue to speak and connect with people.”
By expressing her origins and dreams that she carries within her soul on the runway, Safi has clearly demonstrated that she’s on the right path to showcase more of her creations to the whole world. Which can lead her to, who knows, maybe New York, Milan or Paris Fashion Week? All we know is that her pieces will certainly be admired and resonate with everyone.