Shop Talk

EVENT REVIEW: Five things we saw at Ottawa Fashion Week

A favourite from the Jana Hanzel/Emilia Torabi collection. Photo by Sarah Fischer

Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

Let’s start this post off with a disclaimer: we don’t attempt to ‘cover’ OFW. Covering means attending all the pre- and post-events, all runway shows, and having a decent base of WordPress skills to translate our observations into something comprehensive and pretty that accurately reflects what we took in. We have no such skills, and we don’t have the time (on top of managing multiple print projects and maintaining this site) nor the expense budget to camp out at the Westin! (One of us has a baby bump to keep fueled with fatty nutritious food, after all.)

But we can offer our opinions on what we did see. For one thing, it was fun! The event is definitely becoming a social event, with fewer people looking anxious or bored and more attendees using OFW to mix and network, dress to impress, and get involved. There was a palpable buzz surrounding the crowds of people hanging between shows. A great sign.

However, at Shop Talk we pride ourselves on going beyond boosterism and offering real commentary. Herewith, a summary of our observations from the sixth season of Ottawa Fashion Week.

1. Designers getting creative with the runway
From balloons to ballet, presentations were infused with a new energy, a willingness to break away from the ho-hum of the catwalk. Maybe it all started with last fall’s Kania presentation, which had audience members on their feet, dancing along with the Caribana-inspired show, or maybe it’s part of an international trend to up the ante with set design. Either way, we like.

We were a bit confused about the pillows in this ElizBourke dress, but we loved the huge balloons! Photo by Sarah Fischer

2. Style in the seats
Perhaps nothing new here, but we can’t help but applaud the folks who make an effort to show their personal style — and trend savvy — with knockout outfits. We were loving the poise (not to mention the dress) of actress Gabrielle Miller. Stylist Erica Wark looked the picture of spring in lime green sequins and a structured coral skirt. (But how do they rock the spring looks sans leg covering of any kind?)

3. Confusion in the seats
Not sure how to get around this, as there was clearly some attempt made at assigned seating. It makes us feel like prima donnas when we have to walk the runway before the show looking for our name tag, and yet we understand that more people RSVP than actually show up (tsk, tsk!). I know there are bunch of engineers on the team at OFW. If they can put a man on the moon…

4. Runway Returns
It’s interesting to watch the progression of OFW veterans like Rachel Sin, Jana Hanzel, and Elise Bourque. At times we had to wonder: are they recycling designs from previous seasons? Or is this what those in the know call a ‘signature’ look? And what is the difference? (Hey, when you’re watching a continuous stream of very different fashion shows, this is deep!)

Rachel Sin's collection featured a neutral palette, trademark tailoring, and a few peplums. Photo by Sarah Fischer

5. Another Venue?
Yes, the most recent incarnation of OFW was at yet another venue. We had mixed feelings about the facility itself: on one hand, it seemed to have a very busy feeling, which was an improvement on the sometimes vacant atmosphere at the Convention Centre last fall. On the other hand, the vendor marketplace seemed lost in the kerfuffle of entering/exiting the runway room — but then again, we didn’t spend hours in the space, so maybe during quiet hours this was the place to be? And it’s true that we can track our years attending OFW by the venue changes. However, it would be nice to see the organization find a fitting space to grow. Goodness knows confirming a venue must take up a heck of a lot of volunteer hours every year!

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