For Canadian chef Jamie Kennedy, fashion is a family affair.
The celebrated Canadian chef stands in a cramped corner, letting fashion designer Jim Searle pin and tuck his shirt, emblazoned with a lime green, royal blue and beige pattern and covered in dark silk organza.
Known for his Toronto-area restaurants Gilead Café and Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner, Kennedy, 55, will strut down the catwalk with his three sons at Toronto Fashion Week.
“It might be a really cool thing,” he said over a bowl of yogurt, preserves, honey, hazelnuts and granola. “Because often the things that I do bring me away from my family.”
Micha, 22, Jackson, 20 and Nile, 16, will join their father at the third Dare to Wear Love runway show Friday. Local celebs will model clothes by 25 Canadian designers at the show, a collaboration between the Fashion Design Council of Canada, Searle’s menswear line Hoax Couture and The Stephen Lewis Foundation, a charity that supports those living with HIV/AIDS in Africa.
It’s an opportunity for Kennedy’s doppelganger sons — all brown-haired and over six-feet-tall — to get involved in charity, he says.
“It’s a point in their lives where they can appreciate where it’s coming from.”
While none of the three brothers have ever walked a runway, at least two have different takes on modelling clothes.
While the boisterous Micha says he “love(s) fashion,” soft-spoken Jackson feels jittery about his Dare to Wear Love debut.
“I guess I’m a little nervous,” he said. “I’m hoping that it won’t go badly.”
The two brothers, who along with Nile will be wearing African-print shirts with the same colour scheme as their father’s, had come to Gilead for fittings. Both also regularly work in the café kitchen.
“They’re going as Team Kennedy,” said Searle, 53, who along with partner Chris Tyrell, co-founded Toronto-based Hoax Couture.
Since launching the first Dare to Wear Love show at Toronto Fashion Week in 2009, the design duo has raised $100,000 through ticket sales, corporate sponsorship, donations and clothing auctions, for The Stephen Lewis Foundation. They hope to raise $100,000 more this season alone, says Searle. Remaining outfits that aren’t sold are typically used as inventory, or rented out for photo shoots, he adds.
Designers create anywhere from one to four pieces, which are made from wax print cotton that Searle and Tyrell bought from local markets in western and southwestern Africa during a trip last year. This season’s show will showcase 32.
“There are literally, I don’t know, thousands of prints available,” Searle said. “In three years, we have yet to repeat a print.”
Nine hundred people will watch Kennedy and other notable Canadians, including fashion maven Jeanne Beker and singer Sarah Slean, sashay down the runway Friday — a prospect that the chef finds daunting, he says.
“I know I’ll get butterflies before they say, ‘Ok, go.’ ”