Caitlin Coo for KaidaIn Ivy
"Last year I just had my unicorn horns showcased, and now just the single accessory has evolved into outfits," says Caitlin Coo, otherwise known as Kaidain Ivy, who'll debut her solo collection "Behind the Ivy and Barbed Wired" at AFW's Glitz, Glam & Fashion (Saturday, 9pm). Coo's latest projects are an expression of turning her pain into something beautiful, and they're also about delivering "a lot of joy, love and hope on the runway." In one sense, Coo is saying growing up doesn't have to be boring. Yes, even as an adult, magic is good. That's why she capitalizes on "bringing fun and difference, and also bringing that childish glee." Lately, she's been going for a theatrical look and flocking towards sheer material. A self-taught designer, Coo doesn't hesitate to encourage other aspiring designers. "Don't think about it, just do it. You never know until you try. It's about showing what you've got," she says. "This is me giving back to people who supported me in a rough time. They believed in who I was and now I can share that."
Veronica MacIsaac Apparel
When you've slain as many Atlantic Fashion Weeks as Veronica MacIsaac, you know you're the boss. Yes, she has been on the scene since the first AFW—this is year number nine—but there's something about MacIsaac's collections that makes them everlasting. It's no secret that her Celtic heritage has provided her collections with a solid niche. But what keeps her relevant to today? It seems to be all in the details. "My style is always evolving," says MacIsaac. "I don't think I've changed my methods, it's refining it." Staying true to tartan, MacIsaac provides classic with a twist. Unlike in past collections, this year she will be including more men's pieces, something she's excited about. Then she'll travel to Switzerland next year to design for a big outdoor production. In the upcoming weeks, MacIsaac will show her work at Saint Andrew's Night for the Scots society. As she prepares to headline Friday night's ready-to-wear show, Made for You (Friday, 8:30pm), she looks forward to working with the up-and-comers. In the end, it's about compromise, she adds, "You have to take a breath, and you have to be able to keep the line moving."
Blue Ladybug Design
Back on the scene of Atlantic Fashion Week for the fourth time is the free-spirited, environmentally-conscious Becky Gartner. "I gravitate towards what I like. I like how the world is changing so that trends don't matter as much anymore," says Gartner, founder of Blue Ladybug Design. This year her spring/summer collection is inspired by painter and illustrator Caitlin McGuire and her Halifax streetscapes. "There's lots of colour and they're joyful," Gartner says. Having a sustainable mindset is something the NSCAD graduate embraces, as she will be designing with only reused fabrics, which she admits can be challenging. "I used to always design based off what the fabric wanted. Now that I'm using inspiration from McGuire's paintings, it's a push-pull between her paintings and what the fabric wants," she says. Gartner's obsession with outdoor festivals also inspires her designs, which are made with "people who love music festivals but then come back to the city and can't really wear their belly shirts and hippie skirts in their work environment, but still want to be treated as themselves" in mind. After showcasing at Friday's Made for You (Friday, 8:30pm), Gartner plans to keep on the sustainable route by starting a clothing library.
If you're looking for a dose of fabulousness at Atlantic Fashion Week, Vlad Snytkin has something wicked prepared for you. There's only room for one queen and according to Snytkin, that queen is Madonna. "I made a whole collection inspired by Madonna and her album Rebel Heart." As a drag queen (Anya Knees) and promoter of the drag community, Snytkin brings the same flair to his collection. "It will be sexy, edgy and avant garde," he says. Although he trained to be a tailor in Ukraine, he wasn't always absolutely confident about his designs. "My friend asked, why are you not showing your stuff?" he says. A bit of encouragement was enough to get the ball rolling. Fast-forward to today and Snytkin has one AFW collection under his belt. "I'm not trying to set trends," he says. "I have style, I have imagination." And that he does. He will be the headliner for AFW Glitz, Glam & Fashion (Saturday, 9pm), where you can expect leather, lycra, custom fabrics and Madonna images. His fierce message to the world: "Express yourself," he says. "Don't mess with the queen."
Anthony El-cid may be one of the new kids on the block in the world of fashion designers, but this 24-year-old is determined to bring timeless style, nature and class to the runway. Only a year ago, El-cid made a debut at Atlantic Fashion Week after graduating from NSCAD with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion and textiles. Now, he's confidently launching his nature-inspired designs. "I love being out in the summer when the sun is setting," he says. "It's that moment when the shades are changing, being dimmed down and all you see are the blossoms because of their fluorescent colours." In his attempt to capture nature, this year's Spring/Summer 2016 collection features three colours that play an important thematic role in his collection of high-end and ready-to-wear clothing. For fabric choices, it's all about authenticity. "I tend to use a lot of silks," says El-cid, who was born in Lebanon, but grew up in Halifax. "For this season, I'm using a lot of lighter-weight material just playing around with the density and weight of it." As El-cid prepares for AFW's Glitz, Glam & Fashion (Saturday, 9pm), his wish is for others to enjoy his vision. "I want them to feel lost in the moment. Like in the garden lost in time."
Atlantic Fashion Week, Nov 19-21
Medium is the Message, 350 Horseshoe Lake Drive, 8:30pm
Made for You, Fri Nov 20, 350 Horseshoe Lake Drive, 8:30pm
Glitz, Glam & Fashion, Sat Nov 21, 350 Horseshoe Lake Drive, 9pm
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