Fashion incorporates elements of technology now more than ever. When Lexus planned to unveil their sleek new design, the Lexus UX, they wanted to do something a little different. So it makes sense that Lexus would turn to the Toronto Fashion Academy for a creative, engaging spin on the launch party.

TFA is an institution that offers courses taught by industry professionals to budding, hopeful students, as well as nurturing their careers. Five groups of designers and stylists – led by a “mentor”, or one of the academy’s esteemed teachers – banded together in a Project Runway style competition to create an original garment based on some of the features of the UX. In a little over a month, groups used a budget of $150 to purchase fabrics, delegate responsibilities, and in some cases employ the assistance of seamstresses. The finished looks were shown to a crowd of over 500, on an interactive runway formed on the main floor.

From Lexus Downtown Toronto Instagram (

For the teams, this proved to be an incredible opportunity to flex their industry skills and get first hand experience nurturing an outfit from start to finish (concept, styling, sketching, gathering materials, fitting, assembling and showcasing).

Denada Skera (@denadaskera) and Emily Hughes (@emilyelizabethughes), both TFA stylist/designer on the same teams, agreed that this was a rewarding experience. “As an artist in a world that doesn’t value art as much as it should, it is fulfilling to see our ideas come to life, and our creative vision realised,” Denada says. “The best part for me,” Emily adds, “was getting all dressed up at the end of the night, knowing that our hard work paid off and we had a successful run.”

This isn’t to say, however, that teams didn’t encounter problems along the way. With such a low budget to work with in a short amount of time, challenges are inevitable. “Our biggest challenge, at the beginning of the project, was the execution,” we’re told by Nikki Thomas (@styledbykesa), another TFA student who participated. “A bit of miscommunication is expected for a project like this, but we managed to recover and put on an amazing show.”

After the Lexus themed outfits were shown, guests were ushered into elevators to a third floor showroom, where they could watch the 6th International Fashion Encounter Canadian Designer Showcase, featuring brands like the streetwear-inspired Hip & Bone (@hipandbone), bridal guru Serge Jevaguine (@sergejevaguine), colourful and bold Joao Paulo Guedes (@joaopauloguedes_), classically chic MyLBD (@lovemylbd) and the accessible elegance of Joan Kelley Walker (@joankelleywalkercollection).

Alice Li walking for Joao Paulo Guedes.

Jenn Rabanillo (@lady_styleworthy), the event producer and CEO of Toronto fashion brand Style Worthy, stresses the importance of volunteers and their efforts. “They rarely get thanked, but those people run the event and deserve appreciation. The guests come for the party, but don’t know how much work goes into it.”

Intersecting models walking for Serge Jevaguine.

Events of this magnitude take a lot of dedication to pull off, but that doesn’t mean it’s a chore. Shelly Clark was one of the many enthusiastic TFA students who were working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the smooth run of the show.  “It’s perfect for people who are interested in the industry to get a hands-on experience assisting with a real show. It’s an opportunity to test the waters, especially if you aren’t sure what you want to do in the industry. It’s the real deal!”

This spectacular event would not have been possible without sponsors Trade Secrets/Glamour Secrets, Pretty Woman Cosmetics, The Fives Azul Beach Resort Events, Zirkova Vodka, and Shiny Apple Cider. Head of photography: Georgia Esporlas. Photography: Olga Hutsul, Kimal Lloyd-Phillip, Justin Bercasio, Steve Chao, Hamzah Amin, Serena Elena. Outfit photos in this article are taken from the Toronto Fashion Academy Instagram (@torontofashionacademy) with permission.

Team Klaudia: Nikki, Roma, Astrid, Rashi, Rosie

Team Sonia: Pinal, Azam, Jessy, Iladia

Team Basil: Fredson, Andre, Annika

Team Vera: Emily, Denada, Asma, Blessing

Team Janielle: Isabelle, Pranav, Uche

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