Gilles Wouanko, Founder of African Fashion Week Edmonton

Intouch.NEWS sat down with Gillas Wouanko, founder of African Fashion Week Edmonton. AFWE was created in 2013. He explored his inner desirer of fashion while his stay in Paris, Montreal and now in Edmonton. African Fashion Week Edmonton is the high profile African focused even in Edmonton. Held during the Black history month. 

What are the three attributes that fashion show producer should have?

For me a fashion producer should be
- Very creative,
- A great team worker and leader usually have a big team to manage
- Should be able to handle pressure

The Day of the show your survival kit will definitely include?

- Keep your cool
- Be organize, have a plan and a schedule
- Delegate
- Communication

The most memorable location, which has hosted one of your events?

Weber Exclusive: The location, the space, the high celling, the staff. Just perfect.

What difficult situation you have faced and how you got out of it?

A difficult situation would be going to meet different businesses for potential sponsors, partnership etc... I feel like people are not really responsive, most of the time they don’t even give you the opportunity to explain present your project or to explain what its about.
How i got out of it, You keep pushing until you meet the right people who are willing to take the time to hear you and realize that you actually have something interesting going on. Like at Weber Exclusive for example.

Want is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company Luxure Productions Ltd?

Never give up, keep pushing.

What would you suggest to those that want to be involved into the business?

Be very patient, open minded and ready to work hard


You are a fashion designer? Will we be seeing your designs anytime soon?

Yes i am a Fashion designer, presented my first collection at AFWE 2015. i don’t think i will have the time to finish my collection for AFWE 2016 but will have a cocktail party to showcase thecollection when ready.

Anything we should be keeping our eyes open for in 2016?

We are having:
- Miss Africa Edmonton (About showcasing the inside and outside beauty of the African Women as well as her intelligence, elegance and grace.)
 in Summer
- Miss Afropolitain in Toronto May 2016 (Pageant contest showcasing afropolitain young ladies beauty and intelligence)
-  Luxure productions Ltd yearly networking cocktail party around September
- The yearly winter ball  
- Charity Gala as I am working on a charity project i will have a Gala to introduce the project (no date yet).

Conversation with Aman Dhalay - Javeda Designs

How do you define "fashion" and why do people care about it so much?

Fashion means something different from person to person, but at Javeda fashion to us is a tool from which we can define ourselves, express ourselves. Style is a mechanism through which one reflects their personality and preferences to the world. Fashion is a method of personal expression. People care about fashion because it’s something which is engaged with daily and something which we use to reflect ourselves, our persona, our taste, etc. It is through fashion that one is able to stand out and feel good about themselves.


Why did you decide to become a fashion Designer?

I have always loved good design --whether it was interior design or couture. When it comes to creativity and design I was influenced by both my parents. My mother has always been a fashion diva who serves as an inspiration to me. My father has influenced me with his creations, designs and meticulous attention to detail. I developed a passion for interior design at a young age and later in life I created my own fashion brand and interior design business. To me the two fields are closely linked. Both a beautiful living space and a fine piece of clothing require the same amount of creativity, craftsmanship and attention to detail.


What is your favourite part about being a fashion designer? What inspires you when you are creating your designs?

My favourite part of being a fashion designer is that I am able to creatively express myself and my clients through designs! Inspiration can come from anything and anywhere. But most of my inspiration comes from my Indian cultural heritage infused with the western culture which I was born into. My clothing line is a fusion of this inspiration; however I also focus on a lot of traditional Indian wear.


What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?

The first piece I ever designed was when I was 15 years old. It was a dress that I designed and stitched for my 6 year old cousin. The dress was of a black and white checker print on cotton fabric, with little red bows across the neck line. I remember the excitement when it was completed!


Who are the celebrities (Bollywood and Hollywood) you would love to dress up and why?

Bollywood – I have many favourites but one in particular that I would be honoured to dress up is Sonam Kapoor. She would best carry my designs.

Hollywood – Sarah Jessica Parker. Ever since “Sex and the City” she has been my favourite Hollywood actress. I have always loved her fashion in the show and in real life.

It would be a dream come true to dress both these beautiful ladies up!


What matters to you most as a fashion designer?

As a fashion designer what really matters to me is quality of my work and how I can make someone feel and look beautiful in my designs.



How do you feel you have grown or changed as a designer since you entered the fashion industry in 2009? What have you learnt since you started out?

It’s been 7 years since I launched my brand and as any designer in the beginning it’s always a struggle to get your brand out there.  You have to understand your market and people’s desires, and based on that you can move forward. Product knowledge is essential in being able to bring my clients vision to reality, and this learning is continuous. Each year as time passes fashion changes and as a designer I need to stay on top of my game.  

I first started designing professionally for family and friends and soon after I developed a well-rounded clientèle. In 2010 I had the opportunity to run a fashion boutique where Javeda was one of the brands that was carried amongst other Bollywood celebrity designers. Having a store front gave me the experience of running a business and understanding the market. I begin taking part in local fashion shows and then was invited to Western Canada Fashion Week in 2011 where I launched Javeda’s first collection “Vibrant”. In 2012 I became part of WedStudio as their South Asian Bridal Gown designer.   I have learnt that being a designer and running a business is 2 different things and you need find a balance between both to make a successful brand.

 “Aman Dhalay” in one word would be?



“Javeda” in one word would be?



If you were a superhero, what kind of powers would you have?

I think it be fun to have the super power of being able to read minds. I’d like to know what my clients are thinking, their visions, desires, ideas, to be able to truly bring to life what’s in their imagination! But in the meanwhile we here at Javeda go with the traditional chat over some tea or wine.


What’s next for you?

Currently I'm excitedly developing our 2017 collection. In the long term we are working towards participating in the New York fashion week.


Anything we should be keeping our eyes open for the future?

There are always plans with Javeda! But a girl can’t spill all her secrets. Follow us on Facebook at Javeda and Instagram @javedadesigns to keep tuned with the unravelling of our plans!

Conversation with Estella Lokiru - EJR

Estella Lokiru is currently an upcoming fashion designer from Calgary, Alberta. Her brand is call EJR by Estella Lokiru. All the apparels are hand-stitched. She made her first skirt when she was only 14 years of age. Let’s talk to Estella and find more about her

Designed by Estella Lokiru

Designed by Estella Lokiru

My interest in designing was sparked by my desire to help the Orphans in my home country Juba, South Sudan
— Estell Lokiru

What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your label?

 Few of the biggest lessons I learned is the importance of networking and time. Being in the fashion industry is not as easy as I had thought but I have been blessed to have such great response with EJR. I was featured in AFWE (African Fashion Week Edmonton) and on The Sunday Omony Show at Shaw Channel within my first year of designing. 

30% of proceeds goes to the Orphanage
— Estell Lokiru

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

 With EJR, I want every woman who wears it to feel comfortable, strong, beautiful, sexy and different/unique. Most importantly, feel good about making a difference in the world. 

If you are a superhero, what kind of powers would you have?

If I was a superhero, my power will have to be being able to be in 2 places. So many things to do.

Designed by Estella Lokiru

Designed by Estella Lokiru

What sparked your interest in Fashion?

My interest in designing was sparked by my desire to help the Orphans in my home country Juba, South Sudan. I love fashion and I have been sewing since I was about 9 or 10yrs old. I went to visit the Orphanage back in 2013, the situation and conditions those children are living in literally brought me to tears and I just knew right then that I had to do something to help change it and what's better than using fashion to change the world. 30% of proceeds goes to the Orphanage

Are you self-taught or did you study fashion design?

I am self-taught. I have been considering going to design school to better my techniques definitely.

Where do you find inspiration for your creations?

My inspirations comes from the fabrics. The way a fabric feel and moves, is how I decide what to make. I don’t sketch and each piece is hand sewn so, every piece is like a work of art for me.

Designed by Estella Lokiru

Designed by Estella Lokiru

Being in the fashion industry is not as easy as I had thought but I have been blessed to have such great response with EJR.
— Estell Lokiru

What’s next for you?

Fundraisers for the Orphanage home and working on a new collection.

Anything we should be keeping our eyes open for in the future?

New summer collection and my website

Conversation with Macano Designs

The most fabulous part of being a designer for me is being able to make my pieces come to life
— Macano Designs

Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?

I think I’ve always wanted to be a designer. I can remember vividly when I was 6years old I created a swimsuit and I was proud of my handy work. But the designer bug truly bit when I started to do Carnival Costumes in Toronto.

Where does your artistic influence come from?

This might be the cheesiest response. But I draw inspiration from everything people, nature, colors and most importantly music form there I pick a theme and run with it.

What is your favorite part about being a fashion designer?

There are so many awesome parts of being a fashion designer; The most fabulous part of being a designer for me is being able to make my pieces come to life on each model also getting that feeling and then saying “That’s it” hands down the best.

How do you describe your fashions and style?

My fashion slash style is a bit of Art, mixed in with Fashionista with a dash of Couture.

What do you wish people would understand about working in fashion industry?

To me the most important thing to understand about the fashion industry is expect the unexpected and know how to be your own event manager. Nothing about being a designer is easy I think I speak for most designers when I say we love creating but after your creation is finished you’re tasked with model hunting and event planning being ready for what comes next or just being able to improvise is key.

What advice do you have for other aspiring fashion designers?

The best advice I can give is “Follow your dreams” don’t let anyone tell you “You can’t make it” if they do just say these wonderful words “Just watch me”

What's next for you?

My next step is, design more and sing more!

Anything we should keep our eyes open for in the future?

Yes for sure come to my Feb| 11| 2016 Show titled “LED Dress Fundraiser” and look out for my next show which is in titled “Light into Darkness” Macano designs Angel costume series to be presented on May 21 2016.