The Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto hosted the first Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards (CAFAs) in person since the epidemic on Saturday night, and boy did it feel good. Pattie Mallette, the mother of Justin Bieber, attended for the first time, Christian Allaire of Vogue flew in to present an award, and the three founding brothers of SSENSE, who are rarely in the same country at the same time given the international success of their business, which was recently valued at $5 billion, gathered to accept the Outstanding Achievement Award at the CAFA Awards 2022.
Being a creative person is difficult, and being an indigenous creative person is much more difficult, if there was one major lesson to be learned from the evening. But designers, hairdressers, makeup artists, and other fashion industry professionals may assist each other realise their aspirations by encouraging one another.
Winner after winner made their way onto the stage and spoke to the crowded ballroom about overcoming obstacles, particularly those related to geography. Digital fashion pioneer Myles Sexton mentioned their Nova Scotian hometown of less than 2,000 residents in their victory speech. Viktor Peters, the 2017 Makeup Artist of the Year, revealed that he is a native of a Mennonite settlement in Mexico. Inuvik is the hometown of Fresh Face of the Year winner Willow Allen. Model of the Year Awar Odhiang moved her family from Ethiopia as a way of honouring her parents’ sacrifice. Additionally, the issues facing the black and indigenous communities that they both represent were emphasised by changemakers George Sully and Sage Paul.
The night was anything but weighty, if that makes sense. Unquestionably happy, there was an abundance of beauty on the red carpet. Many donned layers of sequins, tulle, and satin to enter the venue in the more traditional Cotillion Ball style. Other well-known TikTok “cores” include Y2K, Barbiecore, Regencycore, and Indie Sleaze. Menswear was also a hot topic because skirts were enthusiastically exchanged for pants.
Sage Paul, though, is our choice for night’s best dressed individual. The winner of the Changemaker Award accessorised with a beaded bag by Catherine Blackburn x Melanie LeBlanc and stunned in a jaw-dropping and revealing red dazzling gown by Canadian designer L’Uomo Strano.
The tote was created in association with Skye Paul of Running Fox Beads and is a contemporary take on an Indigenous “hunting bag.” It is also intended to poke fun at the idea of disposable culture by resembling a plastic grocery bag and featuring the Indigenous word “mahsi cho,” which is Dene for “thank you.”
View the top red carpet picks from the CAFA Awards 2022 as compiled by FASHION.