Fashion Art Toronto audiences were stunned by a surprise appearance from beloved Canadian supermodel and fashion icon Stacey Mckenzie this weekend.
It was the tail end of day two of Fashion Art Toronto when designer, Mario Fugnitto, popped a bottle of champagne backstage and whispered to his colleagues that the legendary Canadian model was about to surprise everyone and walk the runway.
Known as Toronto’s kookiest fashion icon, Mckenzie returned to the runway to walk for long-time friend and designer Evan Biddell in not one, but three different looks.
To the surprise of the audience, Mckenzie opened Biddell’s show in a shiny black playsuit and a braided ponytail, which she confidently whipped side to side before strutting down the runway.
She then returned for a second walk in a classy leopard print button up dress, and a finale in a glamorous floor length pink fur coat that enveloped her entire body.
After two decades of steady modeling, Mckenzie has spent recent years focusing on philanthropic efforts, but when friend Evan Biddell called to ask her to be in the show, she simply couldn’t say no.
“We didn’t tell anyone Stacey was walking so the screams you hear in the videos are all genuine reactions,” explains Biddell. “Super models have that effect on people, more so than social media models.”
Mckenzie was born in Jamaica and moved to Canada at 13 with dreams of being a fashion model.
Amidst countless rejections and criticisms about her appearance, she dropped out of high school at 16 to go to New York, then returned to finish her studies when she wasn’t able to land any modeling contracts.
At 18 she tried again, and paid her way to Paris without knowing a word of French. There she was chosen by Gaultier to walk in his 1994 fall show alongside Madonna. The rest, as they say, is history.
Mckenzie went on to model for top designers, including Alexander McQueen, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, and graced the covers of Harper’s Bazaar, Interview, Essence, Flare and VOGUE, who would later dub her one of five Jamaican models to change the face of fashion.
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In 1997, she even played the acting role of sci-fi stewardess in the cult-classic film The Fifth Element alongside Bruce Willis.
Later in her career she stepped into varying roles as host, mentor and judge on popular reality tv shows, including Fashion File, Canada’s Next Top Model, America’s Next Top Model, MTV’s Made, CBC’s Canada Reads and fan-favourite, Canada’s Drag Race.
Everyday I yearn for Stacey McKenzie on Drag Race pic.twitter.com/v6qHIymMII
— Wink #TeamKandy (@winkinthestink) March 28, 2023
She could have just retired after all that, but Mckenzie continues to champion self-confidence and diversity in the fashion industry.
In 2013, Mckenzie founded The Walk Camp to empower young girls in Canada and Jamaica with self-confidence and interpersonal skills, through mentorship opportunities in fashion, art, entertainment, health and wellness and finance.
Her efforts have garnered her a number of awards and accolades, including most recently, the 2022 Trailblazer and Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural Black Fashion & Beauty Gala (BFBG) in Toronto.
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