5 HOT FASHIONISTAS
They make up hats. They make up clothes. They make up stunning looks with … makeup. Meet five future fashion powerhouses making their mark on Ottawa now.
Photographs by Brigitte Bouvier
Alan White & Barry Moss
What they do: Milliners to the masses, the owners of Hats etc. make everything from wide-brimmed Ascot-worthy hats to Royal Wedding-esque fascinators. (Alan spoke to Style.)
Describe your style: It’s kind of classic, from the 50s and 60s, like Dior and Schiaparelli with a modern, up-to-date slant. I am a graphic designer, so I came into hats in a very strange way. A hairdresser friend wanted a portfolio in the mid-80s of wacky hairstyles. I did the photographs… and a hat came into the equation. I made one out of cardboard and felt. A couple of people commissioned me. I never saw myself doing this.
What influences you? I never tire of seeing Now, Voyager (1942), in which Bette Davis is a frumpy Boston heiress who goes away for her health, taking the ticket of a friend who is sick. She gets her friend’s wardrobe. She steps off the ship in the most amazing black hat.
Biggest challenge? Trying to sell out (of) hats! (laughs) Or getting women to stop saying ‘I can’t wear hats’. We say it’s not that you can’t wear a hat, it’s that you haven’t found the right hat to wear.
Who’s your market? Our U.K. clientele was bridal parties. I’ve lived in Toronto and Vancouver, then returned to the U.K., then we moved back here at the end of 2010. Now, it’s the same wedding market, although we sell worldwide. Kate Middleton is now doing what Diana did back in the 80s with fascinators. We’re hoping that it’ll happen here, too.
If I could live in any era: It would be the late ’40s. The clothes were so elegant. It was the tiny little details that made things stand out.
Where to go: Justine and Justina’s, 541 Sussex Dr. or online at www.hats-etc.com.
What she does: A talented and inventive makeup artist, she creates stunning looks for weddings and fashion photography.
Describe your style: I go over the top. I will go where no other artist can even think about going. From when I was four, I had that artistic thing in me. I look at the face as a blank canvas. Like with an artist, you see him painting and he automatically goes on and on. That’s where I take my makeup.
What influences you? Honestly, it’s just me. I never look at others. When I create something, I draw it first on a face chart, just like a painter. I don’t copy someone else. If I am given a concept, I can create my own style within it.
Biggest challenge? Fashion is challenging, and Ottawa is small. I know I will end up in Montreal and Toronto. I see myself in LA and doing makeup in Hollywood. I always dream big and one day it will come true. Whatever I’ve dreamed so far has come true.
Who’s your market? The fashion industry and bridal.
If I could live in any era: It would be the ’80s. The fashion was dramatic. And if I go right back, it’s the ’40s and ’60s. In the ’80s, it was all about hair and eyes. The eyes speak a thousand words and if you see that ’80s or ’90s look, the eyes were dramatic.
Where to go: www.arianaassadi.com
What she does: She delves into past fashions to create modern clothes for funky women.
Describe your style: It’s kind of like 1940s and 1950s. It’s fun, but a little bit more modest. There are a lot of cutouts in some pieces, longer hemlines.
What influences you? Originally it came from my nana. She taught me how to sew, then just seeing old movies and the clothes from that era and not being able to find them motivated me. I started taking sewing in high school, then I went to Richard Robinson to learn design.
Biggest challenge? Getting out there and known in Ottawa is difficult. Many people are interested in retro styles, but some things are a little too out there. Also, I don’t have the manpower to make tons of pieces, so everything is unique.
Who’s your market? I do a lot of word of mouth trade. I’m looking at doing more of the craft shows.
If I could live in any era: It would be now. Honestly, I would stay here. I love the ’50s, but the way that women were treated back then, it wasn’t great, even though the style was great.
Where to go: Khala Morgan on www.etsy.com or Darrell Thomas Textiles, 153 Preston St.
What she does: The owner and designer of Parispolice Clothing and AEM Entertainment uses influences of Euro styling to create fun street wear.
Describe your style: It’s very edgy. We have a lot of street wear, plus cardigans and button ups. The new line will have collared shirts, blazers, suits and dress pants. We just released a shoe line, with Swarovski crystals on them.
What influences you? Since I took over ownership last year (she bought out her former business partner), I’ve been looking at the European market. I’m working on distribution deals in Europe and Dubai. I’m trying to bring European fashion back to Canada, maybe through Holt Renfew. Guys here don’t want to wear purple pants and a purple shirt, even if it looks great. I’m trying to give them the confidence to do that.
Biggest challenge? People are scared of spending money on clothes. But my attitude is you can’t go cheap on wholesale because it makes your clothes look cheap.
Who’s your market? Young people and 30- to 40-year-old men. They’re fit and want to show off their muscles. You could be 40, feel like you’re 20 and look like you’re 20 in my clothes.
If I could live in any era: It would be the ’80s. People didn’t preach about what people were wearing, how high their boots were or how tight pants were. I am bringing that expression back, even introducing the studs and little chains.
Where to go: www.parispoliceclothing.com orJean Machine locations.
Angie Fisher & Andre BelLemare
What they do: Working together, they design and sell street-cred clothing. (Angie spoke to Style.)
Describe your style: I would call it a skate-slash-nerdy style. We’re not couture; we stick to graphic T-shirts, hoodies, henleys and street style. When we started it, I had just graduated from architecture, my husband studied business. We always wanted to start something, from the time we got together when I was 15. Fashion was it.
What influences you? When I travel, I get inspiration from people and art galleries. In Paris, I saw a bag in a window that looked like sticky notes and that influenced the design of one of our pieces.
Biggest challenge? Working together. Initially, we got into each other’s business. I wouldn’t suggest everybody could work together, but we are really good now. He sources, does negotiation, the finances, everything. The boring stuff. (Laughs.)
Who’s your market? Basically, us. I hate saying that, but it is the 20-year-olds who are depending on Lululemon—we want to offer something other than that.
If I could live in any era: It would be Mad Men times. The ’60s were so cool. They drink and smoke and sleep on the couch when they’re working. They go for four-hour lunches and brainstorm. Like the people who work at Google. That’s the life.
Where to go: Online at shop.demulabel.com. The company has also just signed a major distribution agreement that will see it go national by the end of the year.