Sherol Leslie is rooted in the Edmonton community but nourished by a Barbadian heritage. Her love for her community drives her, and she is a welcomed presence at almost every Caribbean cultural event. Her newer project, in its second year of production, veers a bit off of this path. Fade to Black is a celebration of BIPOC fashion. Her modeling experiences, locally and internationally, spurred the idea. "I wanted to see people like myself - to be able to target BIPOC individuals and celebrate them. I wanted to give them a chance from the jump rather than having to search for spaces for acceptance." Sherol shares about a blog released during Black History Month that highlighted all the Black-owned stores at Londonderry Mall. A quick connection over social media became the catalyst for Fade to Black - she aimed to extend the focus on these Black-owned businesses throughout the year with a Summer fashion event. She successfully pitched the project to the Londonderry team, and they took a chance on her.
The first year, Sherol was taken aback by how quickly strangers embraced her concept. For the second installment, they can now use their template to enhance aspects of the event while remaining centered on Black culture. The Caribbean influences are also not easily shaken. She jokes about being schooled from a young age about presenting yourself well in public. "It's about wearing your 'Sunday Best,' but I want us to be that 'best' every day. To be able to dress in ways that express ourselves and reflect our confidence."
The Fade to Black brand will push beyond fashion and the spotlighting of Black-owned stores. Their connection with the Black Teachers' Association is a testament to their grounded commitment to the Black community and grassroots movements. Outside of the edgy clothing, vibrant artists and musicians, Sherol also hopes that attendees take stock of the team effort that goes into executing the event. She credits her partnership with event planner Jasmine Duncan for bringing her vision to life. "I'm not a person who plays the hero. I ensure that I excel in what I know how to do, and when I need help, I can count on her [Jasmine]," says Sherol. She elaborates that the partnership has helped navigate difficult circumstances and cultivated a greater focus - highlighting the talents and work of the BIPOC community.
Fade to Black - Masterpiece takes place this Saturday, June 3rd, at Londonderry Mall. A timely reminder that "No matter who we are, we can showcase ourselves as a work of art."
Image taken by: Arif Jaffer