PEI·Video

Designers, models say P.E.I.'s Fashion Weekend was a huge hit — and they're hungry to go again

Designers, models and retailers alike say P.E.I.'s Fashion Weekend was a resounding success, and all the talk in the community is when the next one is going to be. 

'They should have another one. If I could, I would do this all week'

P.E.I. Fashion Weekend struts its stuff in sold out show

10 months ago
Duration 5:19
Designers and models were ecstatic about P.E.I. Fashion Weekend in Charlottetown. CBC Video Producer Jane Robertson takes us to the main event.

Designers, models and retailers say P.E.I.'s Fashion Weekend was a resounding success, and all the talk in the community is when the next one is going to be. 

Julia Campbell is the organizer of P.E.I. Fashion Weekend, which ran March 25 and 26. She said the show Friday evening at the Trailside Music Hall was sold out weeks in advance. Throughout the weekend, Island artists and designers were celebrated, with pop-up shops in Charlottetown and retailers showing off local creations.

"Retailers were very encouraging about hosting designers who a lot of them have never met, giving up space in their brick-and-mortar store to give a designer a chance to be able to show and sell their collection," she said.

"We're very, very pleased."

The weekend was organized quickly, so Campbell was taken aback by the amount of sponsors, retailers, models, designers and fashion lovers that made it happen. Campbell credits Discover Charlottetown and its Ignition Fund for giving life to the event, saying the weekend was something the province's fashion community was hungry for.

"I moved home 10 years ago and I'm just seeing so much creativity, so much diversity," she said.

"There's so much talent happening here, and we just wanted to give a platform and a venue for people to be able to show their art and expose all the amazing designers, stylists, artists that are putting art to clothing in this fashion show."

'God's timing is just amazing'

Designer Jean-Grace Kifwabala owns Truly Motivated, which he started in 2021. He got a text asking if he wanted to be a part of P.E.I. Fashion Weekend and took no time to fire a text back.

'Being here right now, and showcasing my products and meeting models and doing this right now is amazing,' says Jean-Grace Kifwabala. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

"Definitely. Let's go! I need it right now!" he said. The timing was perfect for him, as he had just been working on a new line of clothing. 

"My friend says, 'God's timing is just amazing,' so the collection finished the day I got the text. So in my head this was meant to be," he said.

The process of coming up with an idea for a design, tweaking it, making it, having someone wear it and seeing people react to it is a feeling that can't be matched, he said. This was his first fashion show and won't be the last.

"Just being here right now and showcasing my products and meeting models and doing this right now is amazing," he said. "I'm very grateful."

Chrysler Hewlett, co-owner of Created Unbound, designs clothes and art with his brother, Chester. Chrysler said the opportunity to put their work on display is huge.

Chrysler Hewlett described the P.E.I. fashion community and its designers as a collection of people all 'chasing their dreams together.' (Jane Robertson/CBC)

"We officially launched last May, so to have this opportunity in less than a year since starting is very crazy to me," he said.

"All the hard work, all the sleepless nights with the designs … it's actually paying off."

He described the P.E.I. fashion community and its designers as a collection of people all "chasing their dreams together," so having the P.E.I. Fashion Weekend and business support was an amazing feeling.

'That's enough pay for me, seeing people happy'

Jerry Oriade, a designer for FINIX, said the event far exceeded his expectations.

Trailside Music Hall played host to the P.E.I. Fashion Weekend show. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

"I was like, 'Whoa, look at the people wearing clothes I designed,'" he said. "No one ever sees the behind the scenes, the hours of work put in just for a few seconds. But I was very happy. I could see the audience liked it, smiling, clapping. I just felt amazing. That's enough pay for me, seeing people happy."

Oriade said being able to create friendships with people in the scene on P.E.I. was a highlight for him.

In 10 years' time, he said he'll look back and say, "I was part of the first [fashion week] on P.E.I."

Artist and designer Almendra Romero said her clothing is inspired by Mexican culture.

"I just want to show, you know, where I'm from … and the traditional clothes we have," she said. "This is the first time that I get to show people … what I can design for clothes, so it's pretty cool."

Romero said it's something she wanted to do since she was a teenager. She feels empowered and happy that her designs were seen by Islanders.

'This show just proved how diverse we are'

Model Lox MacMillan-Metatawabin said it was an honour to walk in the show and showcase local brands.

"I felt so confident. I felt like P.E.I. came together, and we're showing what we got on this small Island, and it's a lot to offer," she said. "The energy felt in the room, you just fed off of it.

"This show just proved how diverse we are."

Lox MacMillan-Metatawabin says it was an honour to walk in the show and showcase local brands. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

Kency Manalili, who modelled for three P.E.I. designers, said he was nervous at first. But when he saw the red carpet he thought, "Now is my time to shine.

"It felt like home to me, and I felt really comfortable. I've always wanted to do something like that, and having the opportunity tonight, I just feel so blessed," he said.

Manalili said he hopes events like this broaden what some Islanders view as fashion and make people more comfortable with experimenting.

'I felt so confident and happy,' says Andrew Imade. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

Andrew Imade modelled too, representing three brands. Walking during rehearsals, he said, was the first time he ever felt nervous.

"I was panicking. I forgot how to walk basically." He went home and practised his steps and rhythm.

Before the show backstage, he was tense and breathing heavily. But the spotlight changed all that. 

"I'd do it a million times," he said. "They should have another one. If I could, I would do this all week."

With files from Jane Robertson

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