Friday, February 24, 2012

Strut it! Ottawa Fashion Week-end Review

Last weekend I trekked up to Ottawa as one of their invited guests, there to blog, tweet and help promote the "Ottawa Fashion Week" event in their fair city.  Prior to leaving, whenever I mentioned Ottawa Fashion Week to outsiders, I was always met with a perplexed expression that said: Ottawa has a fashion week?

Truth be told it's only a weekend. But there is fashion in Ottawa. I have found some amazing things shopping in Ottawa over the years. The vintage can be unbelievable. This trip I literally stole some sale items from Obakki's fall collection. But on the runway? That's another matter.

There were some fine ideas - and a lot of enthusiasm - at OFW. The designers' biggest challenges were fit and fabric. Those two factors determine the wearability of an item, in my view. And the wearability determines the sales possibility. In more cases than not, I was left wondering who would be buying. In my work with up-and-coming designers the first question is - who is your customer? Where is she wearing this?

The other weakness was styling. I encourage OFW designers to find stylists who can translate their point of view into an exciting show. I know Ottawa is full of bureaucracy, but even fashionable bureaucrats don't want to be perceived as boring. Or dated. There were a few stand outs in that regard, take Andy Nguyen and his label Y!D.N.A. Collection.

The young Montrealer thrilled me with his imaginative show. Yes, sometimes it was hard to see where the garment ended and the styling began, but backstage, up close, at least you could see the tailoring was there. I'm telling you, watch this one. 

Y!D.N.A. Collection
Y!D.N.A. Collection
Y!D.N.A. Collection
OFW's closing night included a charity runway show for UNICEF. "Celebrity" models were invited to walk the runway in dresses from fashion week designers. (I use the term celebrity loosely, because yours truly was one of the models and well...'nuff said.) But I was honored to be involved, and even got to open the show! Plus I got to hang with some Toronto pals like All Access Kevin (who produced the show), ET Canada's Rosey Edeh, Casie Stewart, Gail McInnes and Gabrielle Miller. Then there were all the new friends we made with the ladies from Ottawa. Fun times all around!

Thanks to Raymond Chow for sharing these photos from OFW. Check out the full set from the weekend here, including the UNICEF show. The jewelry we are wearing is from Toronto's own MMCrystal, known for its sparkly, blingy, red carpet-worthiness. Thanks to all in Ottawa who made our visit happen.

Me wearing Rachel Sin & MMCrystal Jewelry
Tre Armstrong from So You Think You Can Dance Canada in Rachel Sin
Gabrielle Miller wearing Rachel Sin
Erica Wark in Sukhoo Sukhoo
And now, guess what?! I'll be strutting down the runway again at Toronto's World MasterCard Fashion Week next month for the Dare to Wear Love show. And I'll be asking YOU, dear readers, to help me raise funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation in the days and weeks leading up to the show.

Stay tuned.

* Note: A word to the wise, designers -- leave out the punctuation from your label's name, for Google's sake. It might be cute but will hamper your search results. Right, Derick?! That goes for you too, [blak]•i.

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