White Night and The Works

Last Thursday, Mack and I spent the evening at two different events downtown – it’s great to be able to just wander out our door to the next summer festival!

I love events that repurpose spaces – there’s something about embracing the uncommon that adds that bit of je ne sais quoi to an otherwise ordinary activity.

That’s one of the reasons why I was so drawn to White Night, a fashion showcase that took place last Thursday at the Edmonton City Centre Mall. The location? The pedway above 101 Street. I couldn’t wait to see how they would transform the space into a runway.

I secretly hoped that the conversion would also involve opening up the bridge’s second floor as a viewing platform (how cool would that have been?!) but no dice. Still, it was neat to see how the pedway could be used for something other than retail and café seating.

White Night

More than just a pedway

White Night was a part of White Out, a week of events to bring awareness to domestic violence, and the work done by the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS). White Night commissioned ten local fashion designers to create garments inspired by a white ribbon, a symbol of domestic violence. The dresses would be available for bidding through a silent auction, with all proceeds to benefit the ACWS.

White Night

At White Night

Local dignitaries, including Mayor Mandel, were on hand to mark the occasion. Although many in the audience had incorporated white into their outfits, I think someone forgot to send that memo to Minister Thomas Lukaszuk.

White Night

Minister Lukaszuk (I think I just liked how loud his shirt was)

When the show began, it wasn’t immediately clear that the fashions weren’t those created by the local designers. It turned out that the first part of the show was meant to highlight clothes available from merchants at City Centre Mall – for their own marketing purposes, though it may have been a little cheesy, it would have been better if an announcer was stating where each outfit could be purchased.

White Night

Retail showcase

Thankfully, the event MC did announce when the special dresses started rolling down the runway.

White Night

Dress by Trish Pasnak

White Night

Dress by Genette Salgado

White Night

Dress by Kelsey McIntyre

White Night

Dress by Cherie Howard

Our favourite, without a doubt, was the gown designed by Nomin Gantumur. Fitted and petite, the detail in the dress was exquisite.

White Night

Dress by Nomin Gantumur

Those interested can continue bidding for the dresses (and other goods and services donated by City Centre merchants) until June 30 (you can see the rest of our photo set here). Congratulations to the ACWS and City Centre Mall for organizing a great night for fashion and a good cause!

After the event, we walked over to Churchill Square to check out the opening night party of The Works.

The Works

The Works

The Works

Ian Johnston

The Works

OKA (the didgeridoo was great for the dancing crowd)

The Works is on until July 5. I know we’ll be back at least once more – I want to check out the coffee cup by Ben Sures.

Hope you’re able to enjoy this long weekend too!

Western Canada Fashion Week: Fall/Winter 2010

I didn’t attend the last Edmonton Fashion Week in the spring, the first that had been rebranded as Western Canada Fashion Week, but was looking forward to seeing what the event had in store this time around.

I met up with Amanda on Saturday night at the TransAlta Arts Barns about forty-five minutes before the show was to start, as we assumed the crowds would be large. It wasn’t so, at least not on this night – the Westbury Theatre was barely even half full.

Me and Amanda

Me and Amanda

The show’s ultimate draw for both of us was Sid Neigum, a young designer from Edmonton who won Fashion Week’s Emerging Designer competition last year and was recently accepted into the Fashion Institute for Technology in New York. He had first billing on the evening’s program, but unfortunately, when the lights dimmed and his name was announced, it turned out he wouldn’t be showcasing his collection at all. Instead, WCFW wanted to honour him and dressed two models in what Amanda thought were designs from his last collection. Why the organizers chose to include his name in the program at all was beyond us – we were mislead, but were hoping the rest of the evening would make up for it.

Sid Neigum

Sid Neigum

Next up was Luxx by Derek Jagodzinsky. Amanda liked some of the bright, almost tribal-printed leggings, but we both thought the collection he exhibited was quite limited.


Luxx (the first model is Linsay Willier, known for competing in Canada’s Next Top Model)

E squared offered a similarly brief snapshot of their menswear line, most outfits which included shiny bursts of silver fabric reminiscent of futuristic space designs.

Western Canada Fashion Week

E squared

My favourite showcase of the evening was Joeffer Caoc (put on by My Philosophy) – clean lines and designs meant to show off a woman’s figure, I could see myself picking up many of the pieces. More than anything though, this set had many more models than the previous two designers, and instead of having the models walk and finish the runway on their own, built up a good rhythm during their segment by sending the subsequent model down when the first was about halfway done.

Western Canada Fashion Week

Joeffer Caoc

The show wrapped up with Lanvin Menswear (put on by Henry Singer) and featured suits and business casual attire.

Western Canada Fashion Week


After Sandra Sing Fernandes came out and did her usual call for audience members to “walk off” and closed the evening, I looked at my watch – only an hour had passed since we started at 8:15, and with the fifteen minute intermission, meant that there ended up being less than forty-five minutes of actual fashion. Compared to the previous EFW shows I’ve attended, this show seemed short.

Western Canada Fashion Week continues until September 23 – I hope the remaining shows provide more than just the fleeting glance that we received that night.

Edmonton Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2009

I met up with my sister and a few of her friends last Thursday for the fall/winter incarnation of Edmonton Fashion Week.

Serendipity by Kelsey McIntyre

The final night of the weeklong celebration of fashion saw a mix of seasonally appropriate, cold weather wear, alongside optimistic, albeit out of place, spring lines. Although I appreciate that the organizers provide designers with seemingly free reign when it came to exhibiting their collections, I think some control should be exerted – otherwise, the show comes off as disjointed and inconsistent.

More than other Fashion Week shows I have attended in the past, the age range of the audience varied widely this time around – from families with young children, to groups of teenage girls, to clusters of retirees. I think it’s great that such diverse individuals decided to attend the event.

I have to also make mention that I loved the music played that night. And probably because of being trained after numerous seasons of The Hills, I almost expected (and wanted) a continuous listing of the the evening’s soundtrack.

As for the collections themselves, Kelsey McIntyre and Jason Matlo stood out the most for me, although for different reasons. I was happy to have had the opportunity to see McIntyre’s Serendipity collection again (she also exhibited in the spring), and as previous, I could definitely see myself wearing her designs – fitted pants, feminine but practical sweaters, and flirty skirts. And oh, the dresses…

Serendipity by Kelsey McIntyre

Matlo’s shows (he had two) got off to an odd start. Instead of letting the collections speak for themselves, he felt the need to project choice words up on the backdrop, such as “chic”, “classy” and “sexy”, prior to his first model hitting the catwalk. Form-fitting, Babe by Jason Matlo definitely displayed his appreciation of the female figure.

Babe by Jason Matlo

His second showcase wasn’t notable so much for the clothes, but for his choice of models, which included the runner up in this past season of Canada’s Next Top Model, Linsay Willier. As someone commented, her air of confidence was unmistakable. Although she wasn’t necessarily much taller than her fellow models, she definitely seemed to be.

Linsay Willier wearing Jason Matlo

The other three collections didn’t really appeal to me, although Lani Van Rooyen had some show stopping gowns (why the models had to walk like they were jilted brides was another issue entirely). Amanda’s favourite outfit of the night was by Laura Dreger, which featured a leopard print coat, leggings, and a Starbucks cup as an accessory (you can read more about her thoughts about fashion at her blog).

Lani Van Rooyen

Laura Dreger (not Amanda’s favourite outfit, but another leopard print one)

Edmonton Fashion Week Spring/Summer will be returning in April – check the website for updates in the spring.

Thanks to Amanda and Eric for taking all of the photos – you can take a look at the photo set here.

Edmonton Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2009

My sisters and I decided to have attend the last Edmonton Fashion Week show on Thursday, partially because we were curious to see what this year’s incarnation would look like, and partially because of the more convenient south side location (as public transit users, the hangar at Kingsway was not appealing).

My only other taste of Fashion Week was in the fall of 2007, where we scored front-row seats in a tented venue on Churchill Square. The Arts Barns was a marked improvement venue-wise, as we were able to wait inside the lobby to avoid the spring chill. Unfortunately, the doors didn’t open until twenty to 8pm, and given that this was about forty minutes later than advertised, we weren’t impressed. Moreover, line control was sorely lacking, which meant as soon as the doors opened, the haphazard crowd randomly crushed their way inside the theatre. As someone used to the hat-drop efficiency of the Fringe, the front-of-house organization was poor.

Sisters! (I am indeed the least fashionable of the three)

Once inside, we settled in our third-row seats (which, combined with our point-and-shoot camera, explains the quality of the photos below), and admired the lovely transformation of the black-box theatre. I loved the dramatic, lush, red velvet curtains and the two beaded chandeliers hung above the runway. Three projection screens had also been set up at the head of the stage, and during the show, would mediate between images of the name of the designer and a runway camera – I’m still on the fence about the use of multimedia – it was an interesting perspective (and gave it a metropolitan feel), but I wasn’t sure it was entirely necessary.

The show was undoubtedly sold out, but as with the show two years ago, I had to wonder why organizers continued to sell more tickets than seats available. As a patron who paid full price, I would be annoyed at the need to stand, particularly when nothing on the ticket indicated the possibility of limited seating. I suppose their system of selling individual advanced tickets that can be used for any show date might need some retooling.

An unrecognizable CityTV personality (whose name I forget, and for the amount of presence he had, it wasn’t important) and Sandra Sing Fernandes hosted the show. Though Fernandes should be commended for spearheading the fashion festival in Edmonton (and based on the age range of attendees, seems to have helped bubble the city’s excitement about local designers to the surface), it appears to be self-serving for her at times – for example, the cover of the week’s program was a picture of a model wearing one of her designs.

Fernandes and CityTV personality

Whatever tone was established by the setting of the fashion show was destroyed by the opening performance by Kimberly Spears, a country singer. It ensured the audience reminded that the show was firmly ground in a prairie city.

The show as a whole wasn’t bad – Sarah Shell’s 442 McAdam, a collection of bags, got redundant really fast. Nokomis was fairly blasé, in Amanda’s opinion. Serendipity by Kelsey McIntyre, on the other hand, presented a stunning array of dresses, including a few wedding gowns. She definitely got the loudest applause from the audience, and I appreciated that the models incorporated umbrellas into their walk – it played off of the musical selection, Duffy’s “Rain on Your Parade”. Jessica Halabi showed both spring/summer and fall/winter collections, while Joeffer Caoc, presented by My Filosophy had a few sophisticated pieces, albeit some that badly needed steaming.

442 McAdam




Joeffer Caoc (it was a little much that all models finished with My Filosophy shopping bags)

As a whole we enjoyed the evening. Though they have a few things to improve on, I’m sure Edmonton Fashion Week will become one of the city’s festival staples. Fall/winter will run September 17-24, also at the TransAlta Arts Barns.

If you want a bit of fashion to tide you over until then, I suggest you check out my sister’s blog.

Edmonton’s Fashion Festival: Fall/Winter 2007

Amanda and I headed to the last runway show of Edmonton’s Fashion Festival tonight. The event moved from Planet Ze Design in Old Strathcona to the more visible and central location of Churchill Square.

While the website recommended attendees to “dress creatively,” due to the venue being a tent in the urban outdoors, the slogan really should have been “dress warmly,” as my sister and I were quite cold by the end of the nearly two and a half hour show (my flats really were not the smartest shoe choice).

We had decided to line up quite early, which in hindsight was a great decision, as we were able to secure front row seats. The poor souls who arrived too late were relegated to stand in the crowded areas behind the chairs, not fun on the hard concrete Square floor. I didn’t blame those in the back for leaving early, as nearly half the crowd had gone by the time the last designer hit the runway.

Amanda and I wait for the show to begin
The Festival’s Creative Director Sandra Sing Fernandes opened the show by welcoming everyone. She’s a rather imposing lady, with a radio-friendly voice and a daring fashion sense. While it is likely because of her due diligence that a fashion festival exists at all in the city, perhaps from a PR standpoint she should have taken the time to, for example, learn to pronounce the names of sponsors, remember who donated the door prizes, and be able to properly introduce performers.

Sandra Sing Fernandes, MC for the evening
First up wasn’t a runway showcase, but an Edmonton-born country singer, who performed “Lady Marmalade”, for what purpose I don’t know. Later on in the show, a troupe of ballet dancers took to the stage. Neither of these seemingly impromptu additions were advertised in the program, and though it is a nice thought to provide members of the artistic community with a venue, in the grand scheme of things, such inclusions ultimately detracted from the evening’s fashion focus. Superfluous interruptions like these really highlight the assumption that fashion cannot survive on its own in Edmonton.

Of the four collections, I thought Nylon by Dex had the most “wearable” designs, while Nokomis‘ whimsical hair and makeup choices emphasised the expected femininity and organic nature of their designs. I thoroughly enjoyed Morse Code‘s portion of the night – entertaining and visually slick, the models were cheeky, with a 70s sensibility in their outrageous wigs and movements, supported by funky music choices (including remixes of Batman and Spiderman theme songs). The show closer, Stanley Carroll, opened with a spooky Halloween theme, dressing the first few models backwards, and affixing wigs over their faces and attaching a mask to the backs of their heads. While memorable, the clothing ended up playing second fiddle to the stunt. The rest of the collection was showcased with the lights on, fortunately, but really was much too long.

Ultra Ego

Ultra Ego



Morse Code

Morse Code

Nylon by Dex

Stanley Carroll

Stanley Carroll

Stanley Carroll

This was my first fashion show, and I must say it was enjoyable as a whole. Sitting so close, I was able to notice some of the “seams” – padding under shoes to prevent scuffing of soles (and allowing for shoe resale), and really, in many cases, the shoes being much too big for the models to walk properly. On another note, Amanda and I talked about the need for a bigger (indoor) space, but the halls of Shaw Conference and Northlands are all too mainstream. It will be interesting to see where this takes place next year.

Goaded by an exposure to America’s Next Top Model, but helped by the “glamour” of flashing bulbs, pumping base, and the irresistible sound of high heels hitting the platform, I will be back. Look for Spring/Summer Fashion Week in April 2008.

Shoe Shopping: Flat-out Difficult

Bettina can attest to how many shoe stores we traipsed through while in Montreal last year after being bitten by the “flat bug.” Still, due to my more than picky nature when it comes to shoes, I only managed to find a pair I bought as a last resort, and one that I really haven’t worn all that often.

With my upcoming Europe trip, I decided a pair of black flats would be indispensible, as I’m planning on a wardrobe to bridge the line between touristy-comfort and casual chic (I never like looking out of place, but as we will be traveling with a tour group, I’m sure I won’t be able to escape the “foreigner” label, but I’ll do my best). Of course, I’m sure by the time I get there, facing 40 degree temperatures, all careful planning will go out the window, but at least I had some good intentions, right?

Anyway, after a few weeks of shopping, I settled on Steve Madden’s Twillo flats, purchased on sale at Da Vinci’s in Edmonton City Centre. I figure they’re dressy enough to pair with the skirts and dresses I’m bringing along, but casual enough to go with my jeans and capris as well. I’ve worn them a few times so far, and though the leather soles tend to crunch rocks underneath rather loudly, they’ve proven to be quite comfortable. The real test will be the state of my feet when I return, so stay tuned!

Steve Madden Twillo flats

On the topic of shoes – during one of my last trips to Gravity Pope on Whyte Avenue, the manager talked about an exciting event taking place in late June. Having moved all of their clothing merchandise to a separate location two blocks away, the newly shoe-only store found itself with a lot more space. So much space that they decided they could act as a venue for a play about shoes. Vancouver playwright Elaine Avila’s Shoe! asks the question, “Can self-worth be purchased through the perfect pair of shoes?” I’ll be finding out the answer next week. More information at TixontheSquare.

I Heart H & M

I was first exposed to H & M while in Toronto on vacation about this time last year. They had a great selection of both work and weekend wear for a reasonable price, and while some eschew their quality, I find their “disposable fashion” made of better material than its counterparts Forever XXI and to some extent, Zara.

I’ve visited the West Edmonton Mall location twice since it opened, and have been floored both times. In direct competition with Forever XXI, H & M trumps them in every category: the staff are numerous and friendly, the fitting rooms are innumerable, and the tills are speedy. Their merchandising by style is helpful as well, and I haven’t found it too difficult to locate duplicates of orphan items that have caught my eye. Lastly, I have come across some great deals – I picked up a short-sleeved wrap dress shirt for $20 less than the C’est Sera version I saw a few weeks ago.

So if you needed a reason to brave the crowds at WEM, you now have it.

Seatbelt Bags

A quick trip into Plaid Giraffe yesterday acquainted me with the novel Seatbelt Bags by Harveys. The line came about when a husband and wife, installing seatbelts into their 1950s Buick, decided to make a handbag out of the material. Out of demand, they ended up making more.

The bags are quite unique – the Laptop Bag in “Race Car Red” would make a durable yet stylish addition to an everyday business wardrobe.

But I think my choice would be the Carriage Baguette (shown below in “Champagne”) – the metal clasp makes all the difference to a timeless design.

Still, for an equivalent price of $200, it’d be quite easy to find a leather purse more widely recognizable. So I don’t think I’d be able to justify such a purchase…yet.

It’s a Fashion Revolution: Uniform Sizing

I read an Associated Press article reprinted in the Edmonton Journal on Friday about a program women everywhere have been holding their breath for – standardized sizing across merchants.

“Spain’s government has reached an agreement with major fashion designers, including the owner of the Zara chain, to standardize women’s clothing sizes with the aim of promoting a healthier image. Designers such as Cortefiel, Mango, El Corte Ingles and Inditex, which owns Zara, agreed to take part in the program, which was announced Tuesday.

“The program, designed by the Health Ministry, will also prevent those companies from using window displays featuring clothes smaller than a European size 38 (10 in Britain, 8 in the United States). They will have five years to phase in the change.”

Imagine – shopping for yourself, or for loved ones, and not having to guesstimate sizes. And the end of the line for the “sizing up” marketing strategy, a tactic that exploits self-esteem shopping for those who marvel at their sudden ability to wear a smaller size.

I hope this movement hits North American shores soon!

Random Weekend Notes

  • I watched Little Miss Sunshine over the weekend. It’s easily the funniest movie I’ve seen in recent memory. Steve Carell was hilariously dry, and Paul Dano, the silent, Nietze-reading adolescent brother, had me in pieces with his looks of eye-rolling indifference.
  • Had a brush with a fake designer bag – bought what I thought was a Diane Von Furstenburg Rolling City Bag from Winners on Friday. But something didn’t feel right. I scoured the internet for evidence that this black and white heart-pattered weekender was authentic, but found no trace that this color scheme existed. And knowing that Winners has carried replica merchandise in the past (fake Seven for All Mankind jeans, for example), I promptly returned it today.
  • Visited the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market on Saturday while I was in the neighborhood. It was as lively and bustling as I remembered. Most of the produce there were winter vegetables (carrots, squash, potatoes), but I did pick up a jar of organic strawberry jam that will come in handy when I make Linzer cookies later this month.
  • While on Whyte, I also stopped by The Plaid Giraffe (10340-82 Avenue), an affordable gift and jewelry store on the Avenue. Though I’m not much of a jewelry person, I couldn’t help buying a Lavishy 1 inch circle necklace. I figure it’ll tide me over until I have the means and the opportunity to buy the Adina version.