Preston Street earned itself a new, temporary name for the weekend as the city’s fashion enthusiasts gathered on Fashion Boulevard for the Spring/Summer 2013 Ottawa Fashion Week, taking place at Sala San Marco.
A small section of the street was closed to traffic and transformed by a crowd of stylish people and a large white tent. Inside, local bands played live music and a “fashion farmers’ market” geared towards jewellery and make-up was underway. Stark white sectional couches sat in the middle of street for those who needed a break from their high heels.
The show opened quietly for a sparse crowd with Lococina, a new local line featuring full knits and pointed collars. The most notable piece was an ivory, pleated jacket that reached mid-thigh and stood out in the primarily green and neutral-toned collection. Stiff looking, dark-washed denim dresses seemed out of place, however, after the line’s remarkable outerwear. The denim dresses were followed by vibrant, flowing dresses in orange and canary yellow. The local designer says she plans to return next season, but until then will focus on finding somewhere in the city that will carry her line.
Yola Couture returned this season after a one-year hiatus. “Ladies with an attitude,” the opening line of the music playing during the local designer’s show, was an accurate description of the feminine dresses and playful jumpsuits seen on the runway. The cotton dress collection featured layered ruffles and tops with mesh-panelled backs in purple, turquoise, blue and cream. The most notable pieces were the A-line and full-length tri-coloured dresses.
“I didn’t know there were this many fashionable people in Ottawa,” I heard the girl sitting next to me say. While waiting for the third show to start, many of the venue’s empty seats were filled by those showing up fashionably late.
Christian Chenail’s collection, Muse, kicked off the second block of shows with, for the most part, very wearable dresses, separates and pantsuits. The Montreal-based designer’s line offered 60s-style couture, featuring tactful draping and a cinched waist, for a clean look. Most notable were the high-collared jackets paired with only bodysuits.
The catwalk was dominated by non-colour: black and white, a concept seen recently in Milan, except for a few pops of green, teal and mustard yellow. But Chenail made it easy to forget the lack of colour with a number of bold prints and asymmetrical hemlines, making his collection a favourite of the night.
Geneviève Lima warmed up the runway after Chenail’s chic collection, offering eclectically printed dresses, in blue, purple, and fuchsia silk. The collection incorporated intricately dangling gold and silver jewellery by Karen McClintock.
Then came Ottawa-raised, now Arizona-based Korto Momolu, known for being a finalist in Bravo TV’s fifth season of Project Runway. She kept the energy going with a retro-chic vibe and lots of colour. Pantsuits and dresses in tangerine orange, light yellow and cream were embellished with sequins and the on-trend peplum waistline. Also reoccurring were textured materials. There was something for everyone in this collection. Most notable were the tangerine, knee-length dresses and a trendy two-tone jumpsuit.
Following Momolou’s spectacular collection, Montreal-based designer Alfred-Marcel showed an assortment of feminine cocktail dresses, satin pantsuits and sheer blouses paired with the ever-popular sock bun. Marcel took trendy tones like coral, teal and cream and used them in paler shades than most of the night’s designers. Featuring lace-backed dresses and well-crafted peplum waistlines, one dress in particular resembled a modern take on Cinderella’s ball gown. It was pastel blue and came to above the knee, with sheer white panelling on the shoulders and a two-layered peplum waistline.
Closing Friday night in an unexpected way, Gatineau’s Vivi par Genevieve Couture, pushed the “new gypsy” inspiration beyond the design, to the entire look. Models with large, but tame, curly manes, vibrantly coloured eyebrows and eclectic markings on their faces made their way down the runway to a funky electro sound. Offering full-length floral skirts, cropped tops and stripes blocked with red, yellow and even more stripes, the made-in-Canada collection offers a bohemian style that reflected the first night of Ottawa Fashion Week: relaxed and comfortable.
Jill Adams is a fourth-year journalism student at Carleton University. She is also working towards a minor in both law and business, and is the assistant fashion editor at CanCulture.