There's no shortage of talent in the realm of local African-based designers, and this Friday that's being celebrated through fashion, music and artistry in a must-see show.
Toria Aidoo, founder of Kwestomar Kreations, is one of four designers coming together and breathing life into the local fashion scene at Mount Saint Vincent University's second annual Fabric of our DNA.
The show is organized by MSVU's Africentric Support Group and Soli-productions to celebrate African Heritage Month, as well as raise money for the university's Africentric scholarship fund.
"It's good because it gets students realizing they need to appreciate their culture and that identity will allow them to propel forward," says Aidoo, who came to Canada from Ghana at the age of 18 to further her education.
"I realized the rich culture I left behind in Ghana, but being involved in student activities propelled me to work harder to reach my potential. We need to help them become leaders for tomorrow and keep that cultural side alive," she says.
Though Aidoo is one of Halifax's most seasoned designers her designs are ever-changing, embodying tradition and North American appeal. Even after spending decades living in Canada, Aidoo has been using her talents in educating and designing to help her Ghanaian people. She works with 15 designers in Ghana, and uses materials manufactured there.
"My goal is to help them to export their work and to help people in this part of the world appreciate a piece of Ghana," says Aidoo, who will be donating proceeds from Kwestomar Kreations towards reopening her mother's school.
There are a lot of charitable efforts at the core of Fabric of our DNA as it has already helped a lot of students, says Randy Headley, the Africentric Support coordinator at MSVU. "It brought a community of students together. It has united current students along with alumni to generate momentum," he says. The show has also been a great way to expose new and upcoming design students. "I look to DaVinci College for students to give them an opportunity to showcase their work on our level," says Headley.
As they prepare for the show Friday, Solitha Wallace, the director of the runway show and founder of Soli-productions, is happy to be a part of such an inclusive event.
"There needs to be more diversity on the scene and I hope I can bring that to the market that's here," she says.
Wallace, who is originally from St. Vincent and The Grenadines, also works for designer Eyal Zimmerman and will be featuring his 2016-2017 collection in the Fabric of our DNA. Zimmerman's line features evening gowns that are mostly streamline couture and ready-to-wear pieces she describes as "very glamourous."
Other designs on showcase are Selassie Tagboto's collection Identity and Wafa Ouzri's fascinating collection from Morocco.
Fabric of our DNA
Friday February 17, 6-9pm
Rosaria Student Centre, Multi-purpose Room
Mount Saint Vincent University, 166 Bedford Highway