By Katherine Ellis
Photography by Dmitri Moisseev
Jana Hanzel and Emilia Torabi met by chance during Hanzel’s fashion show at the Slovak embassy in 2010 – a meeting that two years later spawned a fruitful collaboration on Ottawa’s fashion scene.
Jana Hanzel & Emilia Torabi Fashion Design creates one-of-a kind pieces for clients, mostly business women, seeking stylish clothing with an edge.
FAJO Magazine caught up with the busy team after Ottawa Fashion Week.
1. What is your aesthetic and who is your client?
Jana Hanzel: We prefer timeless, elegant clothes that fit flawlessly, with a little twist – there always has to be something unexpected and detail-oriented. Our clients are mostly professional business women, who dress for success. They need a dress or a suit to make them look their best, to boost their confidence and empower them, yet they are also looking for something comfortable enough to take them through the day.
2. How would you describe your partnership in one sentence?
Emilia Torabi: We respect each other’s work, style and personality – it’s our recipe in a nutshell.
3. What distinguishes your work from other designers?
Hanzel: Our craftsmanship. We pride [ourselves] in fine details and workmanship. We use high-quality materials, and our patterns are perfectly fitted to each individual client. We value each person as they are, and treat everybody with a great respect – this attitude is then coming back to us, in good terms.
4. Where are your clothes available?
Torabi: The clothes are available upon a special request from our studio. We create one-of-a-kind, custom-made garments. Very soon, we are planning to open a bigger space, and manufacture our line to offer it in stores and for online shopping. We have to time everything precisely.
5. What has been your biggest success to date?
Torabi: There are many very interesting and successful milestones that we’ve achieved so far. Each fashion show packed with people willing to see our new creations counts. The appreciation from our audience is always a big deal too. At the end of the day, it matters when people like our designs and clients are happy in clothes that we design and create for them. We had several fashion shows at different embassies here in Ottawa; the presence of all ambassadors and their spouses is wonderful and valuable for us!
6. What collections have been shown at some of the embassies in Ottawa?
Hanzel: We had a fundraising fashion show in October 2010 at the German Embassy. The proceeds went to an account to purchase books for female students in Afghanistan. We also had a fashion show at the Egyptian Embassy showing our African-inspired collection “Tubalange” in October 2011 and a few days later we showed the same collection on the runway at the National Day of Zambia event. In addition, we had a presentation of our “Coup de Foudre” collection at the Kenyan Embassy in April 2012, and we are planning to showcase our latest collection at the Slovak Embassy in February 2013.
7. The red line, Volcano, that you created for spring/summer 2013 Ottawa Fashion Week was quite daring. How did this line come about and what was the inspiration behind it?
Hanzel: We find that the majority of women in Ottawa are very conservative, and this encourages us to design collections with more life and style. If you look at our previous lines, the garments were colourful, feminine and empowering. We like to transfer this confidence and power through our garments to the women who wear them.
Red is powerful, and we needed that power and attention to awaken women in Ottawa. We softened and feminized the strength of red by introducing textures, feathers, laces, sequins and chiffon fabrics. On the other hand, by using leather, we strengthened the effectiveness of the design for those women who are looking to add some more attitude to their wardrobes.
8. Are you planning to participate in the Ottawa Fashion Week for the fall/winter 2013 season?
Torabi: Ottawa Fashion Week is one of the channels to bring our creativity to the surface and introduce it to the public. We have already chosen the theme and are in the process of gathering information about how to deliver the idea. We always like to come up with something original. So please stay tuned, we won’t disappoint you!
9. How would you describe your personal style? Is it reflected in your line?
Hanzel: My style [is] feminine, with young and colourful garments, which are accented by playful, yet elegant details.
Torabi: My style is tailored, fitted with unusual cuts and inserts that make the garment stand out. I like timeless styles with a touch of trendy.
10. What do you think is the most essential piece in a woman’s wardrobe?
Torabi: For a mature woman, it should be a cocktail dress with a matching jacket, designed to emphasize the beautiful parts of her body and hide her imperfections. It should be made from a high-quality fabric that is carefully chosen to complement her complexion. She can wear this at the office with a jacket or be glamorous at a cocktail party in the evening.
A photoshoot with the designers