TORONTO, Canada — “I’m used to going to [events] where everyone is so used to everything,” said designer Jason Wu during the fourth annual Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards, remarking on the energy and excitement in the room. “It seems like something that’s really developing and something new.”
Indeed, the awards gala on Friday night in Toronto — that honoured Iris Apfel(International Style Icon Award), Erdem Moralioglu (International Canadian Designer of the Year Award), Beaufille (Womenswear Designer of the Year Award) and BoF’s own Imran Amed (Vanguard Award), among others — was brimming with genuine excitement and patriotic pride for Canadian talent and its potential for growth on an international stage.
“I feel like [Canada is] unique and interesting to the rest of the world, we’re almost an untapped market,” said Chloé Gordon of Beaufille while accepting her award alongside sister and co-founder Parris. “We are so proud to be Canadian.” The label won the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent in 2015, which included $10,000 and a mentorship program.
The CAFAs, as the awards are called here, were launched four years ago by Vicky Milner and Brittney Kuczynski to recognise Canadian designers and fashion visionaries both at home and working abroad. While the feeling of camaraderie has stayed the same, the crowd has grown: over 700 people were in attendance on Friday, including nominees, press, stylists, photographers and ticket holders from Toronto’s social scene. Notable names in attendance also included model Coco Rocha, Tanya Taylor (nominated for International Canadian Designer of the Year) and J.Crew’s Somsack Sikhounmuong, a CAFA jury member. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of the Prime Minister, sent in a video message toasting the crowd. Her attendance at the CAFAs in 2016 was a coup for the awards.