Ottawa Fashion Week, Day 2: From the front row

Editor’s note: This is a special blog post for Ottawa Citizen Style by Justyna Baraniecki who produced a show by Ottawa’s own FrAsh on day 1 of fashion week. Check out her blog at

OTTAWA — The shows on the second night of Ottawa Fashion Week were sold out — every seat was filled and the room brimmed with excitement. But after incredible shows on Day 1 from Y!DNA and !Nui, Day 2 seemed a little lacklustre in comparison. The shows opened with Tribal, a casual sportswear line that seemed out of place on the runway. The clothing was business-ready and forgettable, something you would see in a typical office environment.

Hopes were high for DeMoyo. The designer has a knack for beautiful tailoring and great fabric choices but the show was overshadowed by poor styling choices. The first model out the door wore an incredible pair of raw silk high-waisted pants with matching pleated wrap top. DeMoyo’s tailoring is always on the mark, but pairing it with off-season shoes, mismatched stockings (pale gray and black mixed with navy which were messy and distracting) and clumsy accessories did little to complement the clothing. It was an example of how a great collection can be overshadow by poor styling.

After the break, Ottawa’s Jana Hanzel and Emilia Torabi served up the most confusing collection on the runways. Inspired by the 16th century, the designer duo attempted to modernize the Elizabethan collar, fitted bodices and brocade. On paper, these concepts are alluring and exciting, but in their execution, the results were lacking. The over-the-top styling of the clothing, the try-hard elegance and gimmicky runway walk (models sat in an antique chair at the end of the runway) were met with shudders from the front row. The odd fabric choices (shiny poly-blend sleeves with even shinier leopard-print synthetics, pink faux-fur and brocade) and tailoring seemed more fitting for a 1980s off-broadway period musical than any situation one could think of in 2012. The crowd genuinely felt for one of the last models to walk down the runway, as she was sent down in a see-through nude body stocking (leaving nothing to the imagination), topped with a see-through black lace sheath dress, a white silk crop-top, an Elizabethan collar and hat. She looked nothing short of a semi-nude court jester. One thing was clear, wearing these pieces in public would not land you on any “best dressed” list. The designers had a wonderful idea that failed to inspire past conception.

ElizBourk OFW Ottawa fashion week

ElizBourk (Photo: Justyna Baraniecki)

The last two shows redeemed the evening. ElizBourk’s debut collection at Ottawa Fashion Week was a youthful, wearable and fun collection, which should have all kinds of potential. The designer is very much in tune with her market and who the “ElizBourk” woman is: confident, young, flirtatious and comfortable, exactly what we saw on the runway. Though not everyone’s cup of tea, the collection was wearable and consistent and it won’t be long before you find ElizBourk in a boutique near you.

Rachel Sin OFW Ottawa Fashion Week

Rachel Sin's runway show (Photo: Justyna Baraniecki)

Rachel Sin returned to the OFW runway for another season, giving the audience a pleasant and elegant collection. She rarely strays from her own style, which is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, if it “ain’t broke, why fix it?” The silhouettes remained quite similar to F/W ’11 with elements of her S/S ’12 (the cage dresses), though she shifted her fabric choices. The collection was  light for autumn, but remained a crowd-pleaser.

Finally, the day closed with Turbine. While it started out great, it lacked an overall vision. Lisa Draper-Murphy created a stunning kimono-like silhouette. Simply marvelous! The first few kimono-style pieces to walk the runway were created with an airy, white, translucent fabric that held its shape beautifully. Beyond the kimono inspiration, the pieces that fit outside of this theme (the silver tube dresses, the odd ruffled tank dresses, the cotton and galaxy print tops) seemed out of place. The cotton pieces were far too casual and clunky with the original elegance of the draped and belted wrap blouses. It was an anti-climatic end to a great beginning. Had she stuck to the kimono and obe theme, the show would have remained a grand success, but alas, I only found favour with half the collection.

Kimono by Turbine's Lisa Drader-Murphy Ottawa fashion week OFW

Kimono by Turbine's Lisa Drader-Murphy (Photo: Justyna Baraniecki)

It was really hard to top the drama on Day 1. Y!DNA set the bar  high for how to properly close a night. Here’s hoping Day 3 has more in store.

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