FAJO has been covering Ottawa Fashion Week for many years. Dedicated supporters of this event, we have also been a Media Partner for a long time.
This season, I was invited by OFW’s founder Bruno Racine to walk on the runway for their popular celebrity show – and it was absolutely fabulous!
Before Bruno invited me, he mentioned that Joseph Ribkoff will be one of the participating designers. Joseph is a veteran Canadian designer, but his fashion pieces have a very special place in my heart. Here is why.
When I was 18 years old, living with my family in Dubai, my parents took me to a boutique one day to buy my prom dress. We kept digging through clothes, trying to find something suitable. I’m going to be very honest with you, I already loved fashion back then like a fanatic.The funny part was that we ended up with two sales specialists who were both Russian, so my Mom and I kept chatting with them and asking which dresses they recommended. Eventually, a deep purple piece, with a touch of silver and a matching shawl, emerged. I tried it on and fell in love. It was by Joseph Ribkoff.
I only have a single photo from my prom and I don’t even know where it is. I guess I was a typical adolescent in 2001, who didn’t really care about capturing the important moments and was too busy experiencing them. Back then, we had Nokia phones that probably weigh more than five of the current iPhones. There was no social media and my thumbs weren’t constantly tired from typing too much.
I didn’t know anything about Canadian fashion at the time. I had never been to this country and I was curious to find out more. And now, 12 years later, as soon as Bruno invited me to walk on the runway, I immediately asked if I could wear a piece by Joseph. It’s funny how life works – sometimes things come together in a perfect circle.
So here is what happened at the show that took place last Sunday!
I selected my dress the night before. I tried on a few pieces and the one I chose was by far my favourite. It was a lovely grey-and-black peplum piece, with a black belt that had a large bow at the buckle. I am still very much in love with it.
The show took place at the beautiful Hilton Lac-Leamy in Gatineau. All participants were renowned members of the media or well-known entertainment personalities. All proceeds will be going towards Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation; I love taking part in events that are for a good cause.
My hair was done by the lovely Assunta, who actually lives in Montréal. She was super sweet and I loved chatting with her. She even gave me a hair dryer to keep my hands warm, because I was feeling a bit chilly. It’s nice when you meet someone for the first time and can immediately tell that they are caring individuals.
My make-up was done by the lovely Emmy. She kept telling me that I will look beautiful and I think that if I had even a tiniest sense of nervousness, it all vanished after talking to her. She was so calm and friendly.
My make-up was ready. Suddenly, Leslie-Anne Barrett, who was in charge of make-up at OFW, appeared and said we needed to add glitter. That really isn’t my thing, but before I knew it I literally had a sparkly vision because of all the glitter around my eyes and on my cheeks. I was concerned because it was something I’m not used to at all. But I trusted her. And then I looked at myself in the mirror and let me just tell you – this woman really knows what she’s doing!
We lined up backstage in order. The music went on. We started dancing to it and getting excited. I watched my fellow models go down the runway, one after the other.
Soon enough – it was my turn. I held two roses – a pink for Angie Sakla-Seymour, the owner of one of the leading Canadian modelling agencies, who is a breast cancer survivor; and a white one for Max Keeping, CTV Ottawa (CJOH) anchor, who is a cancer survivor too. Both of them are incredible people: they are fighters, visionaries and leaders. They are an inspiration in many ways.
So people have been asking me what it was like being on the runway at a charity fashion show? I think the closest analogy I came up with, after thinking about it on the plane back, is an ultra glamorous version of a mini-race. All eyes are on you. Everyone is smiling. People are clapping and cheering. Everyone is excited. The energy is perfect.
I walked down the runway, smiled and waved. Posed and blew kisses to the photographers. Handed the roses to Angie and Max. It all felt wonderful and so quick.
I love the catwalk. And I will be back on it again soon – probably in Toronto next time!
P.S. I would like to congratulate Bruno Racine and the entire crew at fashion week for another successful season.
P.P.S. A special thank you to FAJO’s Executive Editor Katherine Ellis and Reporter Jill Adams for their support that night. You, ladies, are amazing.
P.P.P.S. Thank you for gifting me the dress, Mr.Ribkoff. I love it.