Glitter, theatrics and lace: Fashion Week’s Big Night Out

They came in cocktail dresses. They came in sequins. They came in satin, silk and chiffon. But the one thing those flocking to Ottawa Fashion Week’s second night did not come in was winter coats and boots.

Despite the frigid temperatures that threatened to seriously over chill the cabernet sauvignon served at the outdoor VIP area at Sala San Marco, fashion lovers gathered in their hundreds to see what designers from across North America had in mind for the Spring/Summer of 2013.

This model is wearing designs by Guertina Cruz on the runway as Ottawa Fashion Week enters the second night on Saturday at Sala San Marco on Preston Street. Photo by Wayne Cuddington, The Ottawa Citizen.

While the crowd in the main ballroom waited anxiously to see what local designers Jana Hanzel and Emilia Torabi would put on willowy international supermodel (and local teen) Harieth Paul, they first had a chance to see what mass production and energetic design could do in the Voyou collection. Designed by young Montrealer Lise Marie Cayer, who partnered with Aldo in footwear, the clothes had quirky flashes of vintage aesthetics along with a youthful appeal for both men and women. And it seems to be working: Cayer recently revealed that two months ago, she opened LMCA, her first own store in Montreal  and through a partnership with Blank—“the American Apparel of Quebec,” she says—she now has 60 sales points throughout Quebec, from Montreal to Sherbrooke and Quebec City to Rimouski and Chicoutimi.

Of course, it was the red hot—and by that, read “everything was red”—designs from Hanzel and Torabi that dazzled the crowd. It was a classic, if monochromatic collection for the pair and married their European instincts for tailoring and drama with their renowned attention to even the smallest detail.

It was an interesting contrast against EYE Thread, a new label from recent university graduates Ashleigh Kaspszak and Tim Knapp. Designed by Kaspszak, the youthful line with pops of purple and animal prints is a venture into the unknown for the two, who are increasingly making a name for themselves with their limited edition handbags. “These will be our one-of-a-kind dresses. We don’t believe in mass production and will never do it,” Knapp explained earlier this week. “In terms of dresses, we’re putting it out there so that people will understand the philosophy.”

Lace, beads, peplums and ruffles were the word from Guertina Cruz, a young and untried designer who presented most of her collection in shades of innocent white. The collection favoured Victorian-pretty innocence with some modern flourishes like fish tail hems and beaded shawl backs. It wasn’t, however, universally well-finished in its tailoring.                 Copious was slow-moving music but seriously hot fabrics in artfully draped pink synthetic shorts, pieces with open backs that had the crowd saying ‘Oh!’ and draping that enhanced the female form.

Opening to the South Korean pump of Psy’s Gangnam Style, Illyria Pestich & Good Luck Shirts split equally between saucy, sexy prints for women and smart collared shirts for men in plaids with Robert Graham-esque contrasting cuffs and collars.

Did we love Serendipity by Kelsey McIntyre? In a word, yes. This was the best of young designers mirroring current trends and colours with lavish lace, sequins and charming hummingbird print frocks. It was a more mature collection from McIntyre than in the past and ended with a hand-clapping, traditional wedding dress that was a nod toward more traditional couture.

The show closed with the work of Montrealer, Andy Nguyen and his Y!D.N.A Collection, which he has also shown in Montreal and Vancouver. Called “Confessions” the highly imaginative work was an apologia for past mistakes; it spoke of sensuality, dynamic emotion and although theatric (hello muscular men sporting parasol-shedding gold glitter), not much that was wearable. Currently working as an assistant demin designer for Buffalo Jeans, Nguyen says his goal is to build collections not for sale, but as part of a portfolio to gain entry to Central St Martins College of Art and Design in London, which just happens to be absolutely THE school to attend.

“I’m trying to show the school in London, ‘Listen, I went across the world and I’m worth it to have the scholarship to go there,’” he explains. “’I want to show you guys that I’m determined to compete with the best.’”

From your mouth to God’s ears, Andy.

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