Ottawa Fashion Week
Ottawa Fashion Week
March 24-27, 2010
Ottawa Arts Court
Ottawa Fashion Week tends to come and go modestly, never forcing Ottawans’ attention to anything but its central message: here’s what local fashion designers are up to. Not having seen a single poster advertising the little city’s leap into the fashion scene, I luckily stumbled upon this year’s event by accident and had the pleasure of attending Friday’s show. Known for its concentration of government offices rather than its flair for fashion and pizzazz, Ottawa’s style is hard to cater to. This may have been the reason for the unspoken theme of Friday’s line-up: the synthesis of style and practicality in the nine-to-five world.
Appropriately nestled in Ottawa’s whimsical Arts Court, the miniature and unpretentious showroom and runway area made for a cozy experience. The atmosphere was a perfect blend of comfort and class. Dress to impress but don’t worry about getting a drop of barbecue sauce on your silk Wilfrid gown (the mini barbecue skewers were divine).
The highlights of the night were undoubtedly Rachel Sin and Ralph Leroy. Sin’s collection was sharp and clean, striking enough to be worn out on the town, but easily tameable for the everyday woman. A play on the traditional silk cocktail dress brought much-appreciated versatility to the collection, with each piece designed with the allure of the feminine shape in mind. Chic and confident, each design found a way to seize my attention with its details: a striking gold zipper on a demure black and plum romper, an asymmetrical synch adding shape to a wool office dress (or should it be worn tonight? herein lies the beauty of the versatility of the collection), and a strategic cut exposing the beauty of a woman’s femininity, her back. With every piece its own project, it seemed the most salient thematic incorporation was the little beret-inspired disc adorning every model’s hair.
It was difficult to understand the motive behind the opening segment of Ralph Leroy’s “happy set of colors which marry in a festive environment” (Ottawa Fashion Week Designer Biographies). The awaiting audience was introduced to his latest collection by the dimming of the lights and a French voice speaking about child poverty. Following the speech, a slew of models walked out on a now fog-filled runway one by one, each carrying a lit candle, against a spotlight of blood red. While the transition from that confusing spectacle to an even more confusing choice of background music accompanying Leroy’s presentation (the theme from Terminator) made for an unintentionally humorous beginning, credit must be given to his exciting take on the modern man’s uniform. Blazers were reinvented, hats rendered obsolete, and Russian military jackets came into play in Leroy’s inspiration for what can only be described as a futuristic take on practicality.
Just prior to the show, I had the pleasure of speaking to Karine Eyamie, creator of Mizdragonfly, a collection of jewelery, clothing and accessories. Her creations immediately caught my eye and the vivid individuality of each piece left me gasping and asking “How did you make this one?” A gold bracelet woven in lavender yarn and little diamonds. A tuft of fur on a gold-tone band. A jagged Amethyst Quartz ring. The interplay of textures takes the front seat, leaving any preconceived notions of what jewelery ‘should’ look like. Eyamie uses a vast array of materials for her creations, collecting her pieces and storing them until the moment she finds the perfect place to glue or sew them in.
Oh yeah, and the United States ambassador David Jacobson was in attendance, along with his wife Julie. Maybe Ottawa is slowly climbing up the fashion ladder.
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