A two-day annual avant-garde fashion show in Toronto raised funds for at-risk members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The Vanguard: Savoir Faire fashion fundraiser, held Sept. 16 and 17, was a collaboration with Rainbow Railroad, one of North America’s top non-profit organizations that assists LGBTQ+ people in gaining access to social services and safety worldwide.
The organization is based in both the U.S. and Canada and has assisted more than 1,000 at-risk LGBTQ+ people yearly through various fundraising events and activism.
This year’s staging of the Savoir Faire Fashion show at the Wychwood Barns on Christie Street is among a list of events that promoters and event organizer, ArtXperiential Projects said could be the start of a revolution.
“More people should have more awareness just about Rainbow Railroad in general and what they do, bringing people who are under siege and in trouble in their country because of their sexuality,” said Shawn Cuffie, vice president of ArtXperiential Projects and the event’s organizer.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing that Canada takes them in,” he said.
“We support them in ways that their country and their culture may not,” Cuffie said.
Indonesian Canadian designer Shelli Oh, who was a part of the showcase, said her previous involvement with raising funds for The Rainbow Railroad was a success.
“I am very particular about the organization that I do work with because it’s important to me that the money goes to where it’s needed most as opposed to administrative fees,” Oh said.
“Rainbow Railroad is a great organization, and I’m really, really happy to be supporting it,” she said.
Her work was a collection of chrome and black avant-garde styles along the runway way.
“I specialize in creating wearable experiences,” Oh said. “It’s about creating that joy. It’s about inspiring and a bit of whimsy in people’s lives through clothing.”
She was not the only designer who praised the organization.
Designer Eugenie Amegah-Wovoe said working with Rainbow Railroad has been an honour, especially for her brand Nykwale, which focuses on self-love and Afrocentric culture.
“There are LGBTQI+ people in the African culture. Everyone presents a different way and I’m understanding of that,” Amegah-Wovoe said.