By Jill Adams
Photography by James Park and David Kawai
Ahead of Ottawa Fashion Week, FAJO is once again featuring some of the season’s most exciting and talented designers, who will be showcasing their fall/winter 2013 collections this weekend. The designer line-up for OFW is more diverse than ever before, welcoming newcomers as well as past favourites. The collections will be presented from Feb.8 to Feb.10 at the Ottawa Convention Centre.
Elise Bourque who is behind Elizbourk, knew she wanted to become a fashion designer from a young age. Originally from a small town in New Brunswick, Bourque began her studies in fashion design in Montréal; but not feeling at home in the big city, she decided to move to Ottawa and complete her studies at Richard Robinson Academy of Design. After graduation, she started a blog to showcase her designs, which are often inspired by street fashion. Bourque’s work combines a very feminine aesthetic, with a slightly boyish influence and very on-trend styles.
MUSE par Christian Chenail, a Montréal-based designer, returns to OFW after a spectacular collection last season. Trained as an architect before moving on to study fashion at Lasalle College, Chenail combines these skills, reflected in the structured elegance of his designs. He is known for taking his collections beyond the “purely decorative” and values the importance of structure. He is constantly reinterpreting classic styles with modern creativity.
Jana & Emilia Designs, a local favourite, returns this season as well. Jana Hanzel and Emilia Torabi’s collections are known to accentuate the female figure, while simultaneously uniting comfort and originality. They are often influenced by ethnic inspirations or different historical eras. Last season, Hanzel and Torabi impressed the crowd with their all-red collection – Volcano.
A tailor by trade, Joseph Helmer, left Montréal for Paris to continue his career in fashion design, after graduating from Lasalle College. There, he worked for renowned experts, while also designing his own creations, before eventually returning to Quebec. Helmer’s unique designs combine various techniques, styles and materials, while also reflecting his exquisite craftsmanship.
Frank Sukhoo, local designer of Sukhoo Sukhoo Couture, also returns this season. Sukhoo, who has been in the industry for more than 15 years, opened his own studio in downtown Ottawa, after many years of working with Richard Robinson and other local talents. He is recognized for his one-of-a-kind pieces.
Last but certainly not least, Andy Nguyen, designer behind Y!D.N.A., studied fashion at Lasalle College and graduated in 2010. That year, he was also acknowledged as the Canadian breakthrough designer of the year. In only a short time, Nguyen has created a national presence for himself at a number of fashion weeks across the country, and became known for his avant-garde vision. His elaborate runway shows usually feature the unexpected and take on performance-like aspects.