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Atlantic Fashion Week kicks off their fifth season 

June 15 at Casino Nova Scotia

See more designs from Sebastian Couture at Atlantic Fashion Week. - BRENT MCCOMBES
  • See more designs from Sebastian Couture at Atlantic Fashion Week.
  • Brent McCombes

In Atlantic Canada we're often confused about which shoes to wear with which top. Trends seem to dribble east from Toronto and Montreal three years late and, when they do get here, the end result usually feels too dressed up for these modest Halifax hills.

But Hali does have an underground pipe of hot looks and designers existing stylishly below the radar. Many are being showcased this month as part of Atlantic Fashion Week's fifth season.

Angela Campagnoni, creator of AFW, is the woman who jumps up to help a fallen old man while every other onlooker is waiting for someone else to make the first move. Campagnoni has been making the first move over and over again, creating important progress for the Atlantic Canadian fashion industry.

A graduate of Dalhousie's Costume Studies Program, Campagnoni hop-scotched from opening her own tailoring shop in hometown Windsor, NS, to being a product engineer for Textiles Nova Scotia, finally moving to design at Stanfield's after flirting with positions in design and modelling for years. Campagnoni took over talent agency City Models in 2007.

Through the ever-growing City Models, and AFW, Campagnoni drives to offer support to Atlantic designers and models. "I began Atlantic Fashion Week in 2008 because I saw a need for our local talent to be celebrated on an international pedestal. One of the biggest challenges that Atlantic designers and models face is the lack of support for the market, which is something AFW is aiming to change."

Campagnoni notices that artists and designers will often trade services in a sort of barter system and fears that designers adjust to non-payment for their work. She hopes to break the cycle and have designers recognize their worth. "Thankfully, we've been successful in securing the international coverage these women and men deserve."

This season AFW will be showcasing eight emerging designers. Campagnoni promises all eight are incredibly talented, but Haligonians should keep an eye on John Michael, who is beginning to flash on fashion radars.

Despite the slaughtered economy, aspiring models, designers and collections pile out season after season. This passion for fashion contributes to the competitive nature Campagnoni sees as a potential roadblock for emerging fashion citizens. "Sometimes [the competition] can cause problems for people to work together and for the industry to advance together as a whole. The best way to deal with these stressors is to realize that everyone has them and experiences them."

The fashion industry will always receive flak for encouraging materialism or creating aesthetic standards, but a celebration like AFW reminds the public that fashion is a form of art. It's about balance, risk, history and innovation. In spite of the high-profile industry, Windsor girl Campagnoni retains her east coast charm. Head Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld asked for a valet for his eighth birthday, "loves the iPod" and "has 500 of them." Angela Campagnoni has something more worthwhile to say: "My best advice to both an emerging designer or model is to know your brand, to stay true to what you want your end product to be. In both [modelling and designing] there are the 'flavour of the month' trends. Stay to your core values and vision and your end product will have a much stronger structure."

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Atlantic Fashion Week begins June 15 at Casino Nova Scotia with the Emerging Designer Showcase

8pm

For a full schedule of events, see atlanticfashionweek.com

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