Dare To Wear Love Gala Returns To Raise Funds For Stephen Lewis Foundation

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After a two year hiatus, the Dare To Wear Gala returns to the runway this Friday, May 12th at the Ritz Carlton in Toronto.

The fundraising fashion show features Toronto luminaries and influencers wearing one-of-a-kind outfits designed by Canadian designers and fashioned from six yards of African cloth. The event donates all the proceeds to The Stephen Lewis Foundation, which helps grassroots organizations committed to improving the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa.


The first Dare To Wear Love fashion show was started in 2009 by Jim Searle and Chris Tyrell, the design duo behind the Toronto-based Hoax Couture label. It became an annual event and has raised more than half a million dollars for the foundation until they took a hiatus in 2015 and 2016.


The duo was inspired to launch this event when the legendary FashionCares – the annual AIDS fundraiser – came to an end. They wanted to start an event than would not only raise funds for AIDS but also showcase the talent of local designers. Each designer participating in the fashion show is given six yards of African cloth which they are allowed to use in any manner to create a single outfit to be modelled by a local celebrity.

Chris Tyrell says one of the reasons The Stephen Lewis Foundation is the recipient of their efforts from the very beginning was a common thread he shared with one of the projects of the organization.

“I was an orphan and was raised by my grandmother,” says the designer. When they started Dare To Wear Love, the foundation had started an initiative to reach out to grandmothers and orphans – those most affected by AIDS in African countries hardest hit by the disease. When parents died, their young children were often left to be raised by grandparents.

This year’s gala will boasts two fashion shows – not only the celebrity portion but guests will also be treated to the fall 2017 collection from uber-hot Toronto fashion label, Greta Constantine. This marks the North American debut of the collection since the label presented the collection in Paris earlier this year.

Tickets are still available for the fashion show and after-party at daretowearlove.com.