BY: ALYSSA MAHADEO
Lights, camera, SLAY.
The future is now and Afro Culture is taking the world by storm. This weekend AfroChic Reloaded returned for its seventh year curating Afro-Canadian art, fashion, food, music, and business owners, for the AfroChic Cultural Arts Exhibit, a lifestyle event that draws thousands of Torontonians and international guests each year.
The AfroChic Cultural Arts Exhibit is a colorful and vibrant mosaic of talent in one space. Over seven years in the making, AfroChic has become one of Toronto’s pre-eminent art exhibitions having featured over 200 up and coming fashion designers, musicians, visual artists, digital artists and spoken word vocalists. AfroChic has attracted thousands of Torontonians and international guests. In 2010 four creative high school students were eager to create a space to highlight the rich culture in the Afro-Canadian community. They brainstormed the concept of AfroChic and established the event AfroChic Cultural Arts Exhibit. What began as an event focused on the politics and intricacies of black hair, evolved into a larger exhibit, featuring a mosaic of art, music, lifestyle, and fashion.
Along with the exhibit, the AfroChic movement spearheads community development initiatives in an effort to highlight Afro-Canadian arts and culture year-round throughout multiple communities.
Hosted by CBC’s ‘Exhibitionists’ TV show host, Amanda Parris, with DJ Lissa Monet holding down the ones and twos, this year’s AfroChic exhibition took place in the year 3017 where fashion, hair, beauty, technology, and culture was re-imagined and examined through the Black Canadian lens. The AfroChic exhibit was filled with artistic ideation and small business empowerment with a digitized and technological tribute to Toronto’s hottest designers, artists, and young entrepreneurs.
On Saturday, June 10th, the Design Exchange Canada’s only museum dedicated to the pursuit of design was transformed to highlight and showcase some of Toronto’s incredible talent with every aspect tying back and empowering Afro Culture. Throughout the evening the crowd was captivated by alluring and powerful performances of dance, spoken word and unique and innovative fashion trends.
The main show featured dance performances by Consuelo Herrera, NadS, and Alexandra Legendre alongside powerful spoken word, poetic expressions and lyrical fire courtesy of Britta B, Faduma Mohamed, female rap artist Sydanie and Shi Wisdom. Each woman that took to the stage didn’t hold back showcasing stadium level talent and bursting with that special brand of Black Girl Magic. With every performance the audience couldn’t contain their excitement and the energy levels in the building were off the charts.
The crowd was treated to a live painting session by artist Camille Lauren while perusing the artistic creations of local artists Danilo Deluxo, Amethyst, Komi Olaf, Kofi Frempong, Benny Bing,
Around the room, there were featured vendors, artists, and innovative creators with various exhibits and businesses tailored aiding the Afro-diasporic community creating safe spaces and outlets that enable them to address the ongoing conversations, and discover solutions that will help future generations expand and thrive.
In keeping with the theme of cultural arts and avant-garde AfroFuturism, AfroChic was proud to host the beautiful, daring, cutting-edge chic fashion designs of Omi Woods, Chinedesign, Ofuure, and CE Clothier. Each designer brought their own style and unique flair to the designs debuted on the catwalk featuring models of all shapes, sizes. The vibrantly printed fabrics and inventive collaborations of both traditional and chic were refreshing and practical for formal, every day and summertime wear.
To wrap up the evening AfroChic was proud to host Grammy nominated artist Jidenna a Nigerian-born American R&B singer hailed for his sharp fashion style and hit latest single ‘Bambi’. Jidenna’s cultural recognition of his Nigerian heritage speaks directly to the values and vision of AfroChic’s movement.
The audience literally could not contain their excitement as Jidenna joined AfroChic host Amanda Parris in a one on one candid interview where he shared his love for Toronto, his lyrical writing process, and hopes for future collaborations.
“Everyone knows Toronto as a multicultural city it always feels like they are one of the few cities that are what they preach.” Jidenna shared. “Everything I do in my career is part of my 100 year plan, and as many of the people here know it’s going to take a while to change the way people in Africa and other countries where most people in this room’s parents come from think we can’t live in the dark ages anymore.”
AfroChic Cultural Arts Exhibit is an all-ages and all-inclusive event, a staple in Toronto, committed to creating an open and safe platform to exhibit the expressions of underrepresented people. It was a sold-out event and for everyone that came out, they were able to enjoy a novelty opportunity to see and take part in an exhibit that has seen over 2,000 patrons from various diverse backgrounds and experiences over the course of five years. It is a tribute to the future of the millennial and the “marketplace” through a savvy tech presentation.
AfroChic 2017 was made possible through partnerships with Design Exchange, CBC Arts, Big Brother & Big Sister Club Canada, Women’s Health in Women’s Health, Essence Magazine, Mixed Chicks Hair Products.
AfroChic aims to continue creating transformative spaces of multi-layered experiences of Black arts and culture in Canada through its annual showcase: to learn more visit www.afrochic.ca.