The second Atlantic Fashion Week was much more focused than October's event. Gone are parties, and blending of retailers and national designers; instead, two nights highlighted local fashion designers. Perfect.
Friday night, the Olympic Centre was almost completely full, as crowds gathered around the runway under lightly billowing white sheaths. Most of the five NSCAD students that showed (Jere Brooks, Alison Seary, Pam Onecia, Danica Olders and Robyn Stephens) have studied textiles, resulting in experimentations with patterns, colours and lines. The other trend among these savvy students is their ecological awareness. Olders' recycled-material pieces would fit right in a 1920s speakeasy. Her flapper dress, made of golden beer-bottle caps, was a crowd-pleaser. Considering how much it must weigh, it had movement, and the red-haired model was gorgeous in it.
The first professional designer was Monica Nauss, who had form-fitting dresses, including a thin-strapped one in a vintage-looking floral fabric reminiscent of silk dressing gowns. Nauss used zebra print---it was nice to see zebras getting props over leopards. Laura Chenoweth designs her line on Agricola, but works with an Indian collective to make clothing from certified organic cotton and non-toxic dyes. Many pieces she showed in October were relaxed and flowing---we saw more body-conscious fits and the introduction of organic corduroy.
Lycheelime is NSCAD grad Brittany Naugler's baby. She does one-of-a-kind pieces, most of which have darling embellishments, and there were some nicely draped and exposed backs. Sunsets on the Eastside are Charlottetown's pride. These three designers, without formal training, debuted their first line at PEI Fashion Week when they were still in high school. Their youthful energy really shone. Orphanage headlined. After speaking to Kim Munson, I was excited to see her recycled leather spats and sleeves. It was clear that the models loved wearing her reconstructed clothes, and they poured on the 'tude. Munson is at her best when she does sexy Glamazon. She also did a series using reused suit jackets. I love the idea of taking traditional corporate wear and transforming it into feminine clothing.
First up on Saturday was Katrina Tuttle, who, for someone so young, is so strong in her vision. Tuttle showed showed several flirty dresses, skinny, sexy pants and wee bubble skirts, in dusky blues, and deep grays and oranges. She combines tweeds with shimmer, which gives daywear a fun little twist, like a superstar librarian.
Next up was Veronica MacIsaac. I wasn't sure what to think; her parents own a successful custom-kilt company in Cape Breton, and her work is marketed as a combination of Celtic traditions and contemporary design. I'm still not sure about the screenprinted Celtic knots, but MacIsaac's tartans are a great interpretation of tradition.
Lisa Drader-Murphy, designer for Turbine, is the most experienced. Drader-Murphy also designs her own jewellery and handbags. There were knee-grazing tulip skirts, and a series of velvet and ribbon wide belts that would dress up the old standby black dress that you can't afford to replace.
Anna Gilkerson's Deux FM closed out the weekend, and didn't disappoint, with her eco-chic line. I wanted to touch those alpaca-wool sweaters, created by a Peruvian knitters' collective, which looked cozy but cute over a bikini or tights. Again, beautifully draped bubble-skirted dresses, silky sheaths and loungewear, with solid colours, screenprinted details and flattering necklines.
Even though Saturday's AFW show happened during Earth Hour, it was refreshing, over the past two nights, to see how many designers are incorporating environmental concerns into their overall philosophy, proving that ethical can be sexy but not trashy. Take that, PETA.
Send your pretty dresses to email@example.com.