Saturday night: Go big or stay home

Drama, drama, drama!

What did the second night of Ottawa Fashion Week for Fall/Winter 2013 teach us? Go big or stay home. Fashionistas — including bubbly opera singer Julie Nesrallah and witty cellist Amanda Forsyth — lined up for runway seats for what is traditionally the hot ticket for the three-day festival.

Here are the best — and the bombs — from the runway.

Designs by Y!DNA on Saturday night, the second night of Ottawa Fashion Week, February 9, 2013.

Y!D.N.A: Oh, Andy. Young and fearless Montreal designer Andy Nguyen knows how to entertain an audience. This one started oddly enough, with dry ice, a rambling personal message from the designer (until the dry ice ran out) and models carrying suitcases of white liquid. Done entirely in white, the male models sported tied-on silver futuristic yet medieval chopines and tight — how to put this — poopy pants. Like past OFW showstopper Adrian Wu, it puzzled and amused. Although he now has a sponsor and the collection is intended to be more commercial, it was all show, and a slightly disappointing one at that.

Dare: Heralded by an exhilarating parade of pounding African drummers, chanting and dancing, Gabon-born designer Gwen Madiba closed out the second half of Saturday’s show with foot-tapping style. Madiba knows how to design for taut young bodies — no body fat allowed — a fact that came through with her collection of fitted Lycra dresses, peplumed gowns and faux-leather ensembles. The theme? Love is in the air, or at least it was in Paris, where most of this collection was put together. Ultimately, Madiba, who holds several post-secondary degrees, delivered a collection of fairly uncomplicated silhouettes.

Designs by Iman Nakhala at Ottawa Fashion Week, Feb. 9, 2013.

Iman Nakhala: While the strains of modern northern African music played, one could almost smell the spices of Morocco wafting down the runway in Nakhala’s first show. Having travelled to the North African country recently, Nakhala focused on animal prints, rich blue and peach satins, gold thread embellishments and braid. Although not everything worked — some were too loosely structured — there was enough drama and detailed focus to look forward to another season.

Ariel Fu: Inspired by the 1920s, and featuring flashes of Oriental details, Fu’s ready-to-wear collection of Italian wool separates and dresses was her third collection to date and offered some finely tailored and interesting departures from standard office wear.

Jana & Emilia Fashion: Constructed to their typically high standards, their Fusion collection featured everything from walking shorts and fringed suede skirts to fur tops and feathered jackets. Some seemed more costume than couture due to the liberal use of dream catchers, feathers, bow-and-arrow accessories and beads, but most focused on a steady diet of classic winter white and mustard-coloured boiled wools. In past seasons, the talented Kanata-based design duo have set a benchmark on exquisite tailoring while playing with themes such as African culture (Tubalange) and all-red collections (Volcano). This time, the pair was inspired by aboriginal heritage at the Wabano Centre.

Designs by Tess Johnson at Ottawa Fashion Week, at the Ottawa Convention Centre, February 9, 2013.

Tess Johnson: A young and talented designer from New York City, Johnson’s collection had plenty of fun — custom prints in slightly stiff twills and jerseys with pops of colour. Her work abounded on some pieces that were immediately wearable  — cute cropped jackets, for example — and other high-concept items such as architectural jackets that screamed, “Wear me to an art opening.”

Nyira: As with other collections this season, black predominated, with pops of patterned greens, reds, blue and lashings of gold brocade. The collection also focused on high-waisted shorts and skirts and bubble hems.






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