Ottawa’s fashion crowd stepped out in their finest ensembles Feb. 13 for the launch of the 2012 Fall/Winter Ottawa Fashion Week.

The night’s event took place at the ultra trendy Loft Spa on Elgin Street.  The all-white interior with blue accent lighting set the perfect mood to start off this season’s festivities.

Designers from all over Canada will showcase their Fall/Winter 2012 collections Feb. 17 to 19 at The Westin Hotel, a new venue for the event.

Fashion Week creative director Bruno Racine said he was excited about the new venue and that all the weekend’s events would happen in the one place.  He also talked about show’s new focus on Canadian designers and including more entertainment with the runway shows.

Loren Romei, a fashion blogger and journalism student covering Ottawa Fashion week for the first time, said she was glad to join the capital’s fashion crowd at the launch.

“It’s good to see the city get out and get excited,” she said. “And it’s good to focus on local designers because it pays homage to the fashion scene in Ottawa.”

Another Fashion Week first-timer, student Katrina Kuras, will be working behind the scenes with a team of hairstylists from the The Loft Academy. Having been with the Academy for about a month, she will be able to try her hand at hectic backstage environment this weekend.

“This will be my first taste of that world!” said Kuras.

The Ottawa Fashion Week team has been busy planning and organizing since the end of last season, which took place between Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2011.   Planning for this event takes place all year round—when one Fashion Week ends, another begins.

“If it ends, say, on the 20th, we’re starting in the 21st, ” said Nicki Lumsden, a Fashion Week production coordinator.  She and her partner, Michael Berger, take care of everything from the safety pits, to the runway and even the performances.

This year’s event will feature veteran designers Jana Hanzel and Emilia Torabi, Rachel Sin and Illyria Design.  New to Ottawa Fashion Week is Halifax designer Lisa Drader-Murphy of Turbine.  This will be the first time anyone from Nova Scotia has shown here in Ottawa, Racine said.

Along with Turbine, the weekend will also feature other Ottawa Fashion Week newcomers, such as Ella Peru and Helmer.

Experienced Ottawa Fashion Week model, Lashanda Skerrit, was one of many beautiful girls walking around in designer duds.  She has been walking the runways at the event for the last four seasons.

When asked which designer she was most excited for this weekend, she gave a definite answer, “Sukhoo Sukhoo!” That is, the local couture design label that she was wearing and that will be closing the event Sunday.

By the looks of Skerrit’s well constructed, shimmering gold dress, Sukhoo Sukhoo will be an event highlight, as metallics are always a great trend for fall.

If the launch was any indication, this year’s event promises to be the best yet.  With an intimate new venue and edgy new designers, this weekend is sure to a stylish one.

—Photo by Portia Baladad