Sunday, April 5, 2009

At Odd's Ends - April 3rd Designer Collections at EFW

The second designer collections night was a mish-mash mix-up of bridal gowns, avant-garde clothes, bikinis, and evening wear, just the way Edmonton Fashion Week has been doing it for four years. Since it's still a relatively new pet project of Creative Director Sandra Sing Fernandes, it's focus is less theme-based, and is more centralized on the large range of Edmonton fashion designers. To think of it, the amount of local talent that can be mustered up in one night for a city with a moderate population of about a million is quite extraordinary. In terms of a marketing perspective, a large mash-up such as the one seen Friday night is just perfect for the usually fashionably unconscious Edmontonian who pays tickets to see these shows. The ultimate result: a satisfying tit (no pun intended) for tat compilation of collections that quenches the Edmonton thirst for more local creative talent in the fashion industry.

Kathryn Neuman
I've taken a couple of courses with Kathryn before, a University of Alberta Human Ecology alumni, and it's safe to say that even a year ago, her work proved that there was nothing short of her talent. Seems pretty fitting that this girl with a Poiret aesthetic for colours like burgundy, canary, sky blue, and mint green, and a style that is whimsical and flirty, should work for local Edmonton designer Maggie Walt. One of the great things about her collection on Friday is that she escaped her safe zone of tailored, fitted garments, and ventured into the territory of fabric draping, as seen in a burgundy asymmetrical dress with a little teasing cleavage on the right side. Her small, ten-piece collection is consistent, new and a great kickoff to the other collections.

Nazila Couture
Of all the designers that evening, Nazila Couture was probably the most marketable for her conventional taste on high-glamour, high beauty, high heels, high slits, and high impact. Roberto Cavalli said something once that a woman is most beautiful in her difference to men, and that women just want to feel sexy. Nazila Couture nails that mark, and several of her dress designs even take after Cavalli, like a long, blue, yellow and red printed maxi dress. However, the most noticeable dresses from her show were the ones that were based on her Indian roots. The Bollywood, tummy-flaunting, floor length sequined gold gowns at the end were the highlights, with one model wearing a fabulous gold crystal flower headpiece on one side. It's almost just like Cavalli said too --- Nazila's opening dresses were beautiful but common, and it wasn't until her Indian-inspired dresses at the end started coming down the runway did we remember how promising and unique she can be in future shows.

No doubt the most high-energy collection of the night, thin, sixteen-year old girls marched bare foot down the runway to rock music in Hawaiian print bikinis. This collection didn't showcase anything remarkably new, but reminds us of what it's like to be young, beautiful, sixteen, blonde, and going on Spring Break. BodyGlove's show had a lot of in-your-face attitude with the large floppy straw hats and sixties-inspired sunglasses. Oh, to be sixteen again and not care what other people might think of you.

Lani Van Rooyen
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Lani's bridal wear was calm, and the models waltzed out slowly with flowers, as if playing out some harmonious but tragic poetry in their head. Although the mix of bridesmaid dresses might have been a bit confusing in terms of a central theme or story, Lani's highlight is her Chanel-like couture wedding gowns, one notably with three-dimensional flowers made from chiffon that appear to come off the gown, resembling the shadow butterflies in the background. Her crinoline dresses were also a high mark.

Stanley Carroll
A veteran in the fashion industry, Edmonton's favorite Stanley Carroll once again closed the evening with the most exciting show. Inspired by what appears to be vintage photographs and drawings of a 1930's flood, models came out in wet hair, blue eyeshadow, and pale lips, wearing dresses made from knit fabrics with thin vertical stripes a la Missoni. Carroll puts his usual avant-garde twist by cutting his clothes in boxy shapes, oversized tailoring, and biker pants for men. For women, the focus was on dresses that draped and dripped like muddy water. One of the most memorable stylings was the trenchdress mixed with a garish blue pair of rubber construction worker boots. Carroll's show is always exciting because he has a way of mixing both men and women's clothes together in a theme that is consistent, and in garments that are shocking yet beautiful and incredibly unpretentious. Now that is something all designers should look towards.

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