Western Canada Fashion Week: minimal wins over opulent

April 21, 2011

Text by Sarah Dion-Marquis.

Photos by Chris M. Chan Photography, Samantha Scharft Photography and courtesy of Joanna Wala and Kelsey McIntyre.

Designers and the savvy crowd made this year’s Western Canada Fashion Week a success in the prairies. Finding a seat in Edmonton’s TransAlta Arts Barn was nearly impossible for people who didn’t book tickets in advance, unless something called “luck” came into play. Fortunately, there was also standing room.

Edmonton isn’t New York or Paris when it comes to fashion. Its fashion market is also smaller compared to Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. Yet, this year’s fashion week attracted some of the biggest names in the fashion industry to Edmonton’s trendy Old Strathcona neighborhood.

Designers are aware that they have to sell their fashion creations to put bread, butter and, perhaps, sushi on their table. Sales play a big role in the decision of big designers from the East Coast, and abroad, to fly all the way to Alberta. Albertans are the biggest shoppers in Canada, and are amongst the biggest earners. According to a BMO study published in December, they are also the most generous when it comes to buying gifts for their loved ones. For Toronto’s star designer Joeffer Caoc, and Japanese icon Y-3 Yohji Yamamoto’s, this is a major factor in their decision to participate.

Take Caoc, for instance. The award-winning Canadian fashion designer’s clothes are a favourite among singer Nelly Furtado, supermodels Coco Rocha and Daria Werbowy, and fashion commentator Jeanne Beker. ”He’s always been loyal to his Edmonton fans,” said his rep, adding that he has a “big customer base” in Alberta.

Yohji Yamamoto.

Caoc’s pieces are classic with a little bit of a twist. He brightened up his clothing with a lot of colour, and many stripes, for the spring/summer 2011 season. They were equally wearable on special evenings, or on carefree summer days. Another characteristic of Caoc’s collection was that it would fit women of all body types, which is quite unusual for an established designer’s collection.

The audience was delighted to see Japanese designer Y-3 Yohji Yamamoto‘s collection too, without having to fly to Tokyo, Paris or some major North American fashion event.

The sales of his two primary lines average above $100 million annually. He’s known for his signature oversized silhouettes in black and his habits to feature drapery in varying textures.

Yamamoto’s ample black dresses and skirts were, therefore, not surprising. He also injected a bit of colour into his line, including yellow, eccentric green and blue, which gave an avant-garde spirit to the collection.

Minimal and practical also seemed to be the trends amongst other designers at this year’s WCFW.

Stanley Carroll.

Veteran designer Stanley Carroll made a comeback after unexpectedly quitting in 2009.

This time, he says, it’s different. ”Disillusion, superficiality and rigidity are over.”

The new Carroll is back on his own terms, and isn’t afraid to let the world know about it. He’s not interested in selling his new line – Pieces – in stores in North America or Europe. Instead, he’s letting the Internet do the job.

Carroll is now focused on designing clothes on a small scale, which is the opposite of what he was doing before. Carroll also didn’t hire a single Size 0 model to present his line at WCFW.

He showcased ample colourful dresses that one can wear to go to Puccini’s opera on a Saturday night or in the office on a regular workday.

Kelsey McIntyre.

Fort Saskatchewan designer Kelsey McIntyre had a very striking collection at this year’s fashion week. Titled Serendipity, it was inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia and owls.

The public appreciated the different textures, prints and features that McIntyre focused on.

The designer enjoys creating clothes that she herself would want to wear: dazzling feminine pieces that have a bit of a vintage quality.

”I like to say the girls who are wearing them are vintage chicks,” she said.

McIntyre makes sure her pieces flow naturally on every body type.

Finally, Edmonton-based Joanna Wala showcased a line, titled Sofiss, that targeted young professional women. The clothes were very classic and day-appropriate.

Joanna Wala.

”This collection, in particular, is all about waking up and saying ‘What am I gonna wear Monday morning and Tuesday morning?’ instead of an evening look,” said Wala.

The idea to create such collection came to Wala when she was teaching at a university and realized she had nothing to wear from her own designs, as all her collections were geared towards evening wear.

The organizers of WCFW wanted to deliver the best in fashion and design to Edmonton.

With over 350 Edmontonians showing up every evening to enjoy the showcase, the mission has been accomplished.

For more information about the Western Canada Fashion Week, please visit www.westerncanadafashionweek.com

Photo gallery – catwalk and photoshoots

Joanna Wala

Cincopa WordPress plugin

Kelsey McIntyre

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