Thank you, Sophie Grégiore Trudeau for showing up at the CAFA Awards at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel on Saturday night. Thank you for wearing that spectacular caped jumpsuit by Montreal designer Michael D. And thank you for standing up and declaring that Canada is home to world-class talent. Canadian designers desperately need outspoken fans like you to stay alive.
If that wasn’t clear before, it should be now. In accepting the Swarovski Award for Emerging Accessories Talent, Lauren Klassen thanked her boyfriend for paying the rent. Wayne Clark, honoured for Outstanding Achievement after 41 years in the business, recalled losing six backers, always after a critically acclaimed runway show. Now Designer in Residence at Ryerson University, Clark gave a shout-out to budding talent Hamish Thwaites, who picked up the Fashion Design Student Award. “The kid is stellar and someone we all need to get behind. There hasn’t been a better student in four years.”
The fashions on Saturday were stellar too, with a roomful of Beaufille, Sid Neigum, Tanya Taylor and Greta Constantine, who won Womenswear Designer of the Year. Krystal Koo rocked a fluttery purple Jason Wu to accept the International Canadian Designer of the Year on his behalf. And a side-slit, pearl Mikhael Kale number that mysteriously clung to every Sylvia Mantella curve was the talk of the night. “It’s the most comfortable gown I’ve ever worn, like pyjamas,” Mantella stated, before snapping her daughter with Kardinal Offishall. KO topped a papery leather jacket by Magpie with a mountie/baseball hybrid from his new collab with Brims, a hat shop on Queen West.
If the event felt a bit like a trout pond stocked with celebrity fish, who cares. Joe Fresh flew Karlie Kloss in by private jet to hand the Fashion Innovation Award to Frank & Oak. Hudson’s Bay president Liz Rodbell gobbled down the vegetarian entrée with Elle MacPherson before given her the Vanguard Award for her achievements as an international trailblazer. UNTTLD won the Swarovski Award for Emerging Fashion Talent and Laura Siegel was named the Fashion Impact winner for her work with third world craftspeople. Other winners were Wings + Horn for best menswear, WANT Les Essentials for best accessories and The Coveteur for best blogger.
FASHION regulars Gabor Jurina, Annie Horth and Herieth Paul won for Image Maker, Stylist of the Year and Model of the Year. And Sephora Fresh Face Adam Butcher gave a thoughtful speech about following his father’s footsteps into the finance industry before pivoting into modeling to be around “creative people like you.”
As is often the case at awards shows, there were grumblings about some of the wins. Most notably: that the Vanguard award should have gone to a Canadian. So for next year, we nominate legendary model Kirsten Owen, still kicking ass at age 45, and a beacon of coolness in the room.
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