African Fashion Week Toronto 2017- Day 3-The Royal Ontario Museum.
The announcement rings through the space where the High Fashion Designer showcase is being staged: “Presenting the Designs of Gervacy!” The audience responds in a spontaneous outpouring of cheers and applause, and there’s an almost tangible shift in the atmosphere; electric anticipation. The music pumps out and the models stride down the runway in the undeniable Gervacy aesthetic: bold African prints, feminine sensual lines, and the innovative interplay of fabrics. The line is a fitting climax to Day 3 of African Fashion Week Toronto. One is instantly reminded of Kyle Gervacy’s one-liner in the Golden Button fashion competition t.v series trailer: “I’m not saying I’m awesome…but I’m kind of there!”
He laughs now as he’s reminded of that cheeky quote and puts it into context, “I meant that I’m so proud when I see my designs on the runway. I see my work is of value which is amazing for someone who can’t sew and has no formal fashion training,” he explains. Kyle appears to be one of those rare natural talents who instinctively creates art in fashion. He was born and raised in St.Lucia and pursued a career in dance and the theatre. Fashion designing was a passionate hobby, “I sketched binders and folders of designs but fashion wasn’t a thing for me. I couldn’t sew or construct. My ambition was dance.”
When his mother passed away in his teens, Kyle immigrated to Canada. In 2013, he volunteered to be a model at the first ever African Fashion Week to be staged in Toronto. The experience was life-changing, “I got to know some of the designers and I became so inspired, so amazed by their work, and encouraged by their advice, that I went out and bought a sewing machine,”he recalls, “I cut open my clothes to see if I could reproduce them and lost track of the pieces, but I practiced making my own clothes. The first thing I made was pants out African print.” Kyle enjoyed the process of designing and making his own clothes so much he decided to participate in the African Fashion Week student designer contest in 2015, as well as the inaugural Golden Button fashion contest on Afroglobal T.V. He won both competitions.
This year, the Gervacy fashion line captured the African Fashion Industry Unisex Designer of the Year Award. It’s an accolade he’s particularly pleased to receive, “Prior to 2015, I’d never even made a dress before. I’d drape things, try things out, and they worked,” Kyle says. He describes his aesthetic as afro-fusion with strong prints and Asian elements and is striving to normalize African prints in fashion. His latest line titled “Unrequited”, displays all these aspects as well as a strong personal voice. “This line is based on a relationship that went wrong, and the journey I went through; starting out with the darker colours into the vivid yellows and gold. Everything about this line is significant to me personally, even the dominant yellow colour, is from a dream I had of my mom wearing a yellow gown at her celebration of life. My art reflects my truth.”
Kyle is in the process of re-branding and expanding the Gervacy line and building his business acumen. He is planning a major show in January, celebrating his 25th birthday with a 25 piece collection. He looks forward to the days of pushing himself artistically, “My aesthetic is different from what others are doing. I’m all about innovation and I want to create and to spend my time creating.