If you asked Kadeem Kyle Faustin a decade ago what his number one life aspiration was, the 14-year-old Faustin would have said, “To be the greatest dancer known to man!”
The St. Lucian native has 16 years of dance development under his belt and was determined to blaze his pathway to success performing and studying with Kashe Dance company and COBA after immigrating to Toronto seven years ago. Thereafter, life as Faustin knew it changed and his arabesque movements had to correspond. In 2011, after the passing of the dancer’s greatest fan—Faustin’s mother—he endured and fought paralysis caused by a spinal compression. His life was shifting drastically but what remained strong was his will to overcome. “A lot of designers get lost because they don’t know who they are. I found out who I was very early,” says Faustin, who had to stop dancing at the resounding advice of his doctors. Using the strength of the byproducts of what life gifted him along with his mental power, Faustin says he cured himself from the inside out with the mantra, “You’re going to walk.”
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And walk he did! In 2014, Faustin strutted his way down the African Fashion Week Toronto (AFWT) runway as a model where he had the fortunate opportunity to meet designers like Adebayo Jones, Zeena Kay, and Chinedu Ukabum. The show and craftsmanship of each designer left him so inspired, that the then 22-year-old purchased a sewing machine and began experimenting with his own designs. “The majority of the time I don’t know what I’m doing. If you asked me what my process was to construct a piece, I couldn’t tell you,” Faustin confesses. The self- taught designer simply took apart a pair of pants one day and made another using the structure of the original and different fabric.
That bold leap lead to Faustin creating Kyle Gervacy--a brand that has signature Afro-Asiatic inspirations and bears the designers innermost sentiments. Kyle Gervacy is not only Faustin’s fierce alter-ego but also an ode to his mother who suggested the name 'Gervacy’ for Faustin’s first child. Kyle Gervacy represents the birthing of Faustin’s first creation that he has nurtured and molded through love, arduous work, and sacrifice. His growth has been awarded as AFWT 2017 Ladies and Menswear Designer of the Year during the African Fashion Industry Awards on August 19. This wasn’t Faustin’s first AFWT award. A year after modelling, he premiered his ‘Dessenze’ collection and won the AFWT 2015 Student Designer Competition.
In the 2017 Kyle Gervacy collection, we can see the designer’s growth and attention to subtle detail. The ‘Unrequited’ collection was originally named “Sauvage” but after a dream in Faustin’s sewing room he woke up with a revelation. The dream took him back to a painful past relationship where he remembered how much he gave without receiving and how good yet horrible he felt because of it.
“After I woke up, I began sketching and crying at the same time. It was a really tough time in my life,” says Faustin who believes that for his creations to be beautiful the creative process must be honest. Every detail of the ‘Unrequited’ collection is a representation of Faustin’s abusive relationship all the way down to the seam lines in the dress corresponding to the number of years endured. Although the relationship was difficult for Faustin to bear he was determined to show through this collection that out of darkness comes light and each piece tells that story.
AFWT is a useful platform for Faustin to showcase his designs but it is not his driving force to keep going in fashion. “I want to change the way men see fashion,” says Faustin whose vibrant African print designs play with symmetry and gender and are made to order.
Following the success of the “Unrequited” Collection, Faustin is working on a Kyle Gervacy Ready to Wear line, expanding his business team, a new website, and becoming a household name brand. Keep up with what is next for this artist on Instagram and Facebook.