Halifax: Atlantic Fashion Week(end) part one

Danica Olders' bottle cap dress
Danica Olders' bottle-cap dress at Atlantic Fashion Week.

No need for asterisks or apologetic preambles: my city finally nailed down Fashion Week this season—or at least an abbreviated one—hitting a level of success that’s way off the small-town scale.

Although last fall’s Atlantic Fashion Week (part one, part two) left many a gaped mouth in its wake, the event was not without its flaws. But what first run isn’t? Ironing out the kinks, this season’s AFW (atlanticfashionweek.com) ditched the complicated runway for a cleaner approach, the model list was narrowed to the city’s finest catwalkers and the schedule was fine-tuned. And hanging from this strengthened structure was a series of designs that filled my notebook with exclamation marks and ignited my Maritime pride.

Following a schmoozy soirée at the Mercedes-Benz dealership on Thursday, the weekend affair took off on Friday evening with the first of two designer showcases. Work from a clutch of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University students was the first to hit the runway, with second-year textiles and fashion student Danica Olders stealing much of the spotlight. Her third and final piece, a stunning gold flapper dress made up of hundreds of flattened bottle caps, set off the weekend’s only audience-wide applause. Juxtaposing the lavish ’20s with a more resourceful present, this dress did more than just convey a message: its backless silhouette, subtle pattern and elegant fit hinted at solid, to-be-watched talent.

Maxwell-John marked the night’s first designer label, a straightforward line of figure-hugging pieces that lean a little more night than day. Straying successfully from the pencil silhouette that ran throughout her collection, designer Monica Nauss sent an adorable ivory bubble skirt with tie detail at the hip down the runway, a delicious little piece that I can’t quite forget.

Embracing her signature cut of airy tunics, A-line skirts, flowing trousers and accented waists, eco-conscious designer Laura Chenoweth (laurachenoweth.com) showed an elegant collection on Friday, tossing in pops of rich colour and intricate prints amidst her classic, natural hues. Also keeping true to form, Orphanage Clothing (orphanageclothing.com) wrapped and strapped the models into a new round of designer Kim Munson’s edgy bits that I still can’t get my head around.

Lycheelime grabbed my attention with a houndstooth sheath that scooped to a daring open back, foreshadowing the peek-a-boo backs tucked into Sunsets on the Eastside’s (sunsetsontheeastside3.blogspot.com) collection—next up on the runway. The Islander trio has kept the designs as fresh and young as ever, but the line has matured with the girls. The collection has surpassed the dress-up musings of three teens and tumbled into true designer territory—but not without the funky details that give Sunsets its punch. Case in point: a blush-hued flowy frock with a tie collar and gathered waist dripped with romance and whimsy, but a back slit to reveal canary yellow sequins exposed a little more than a flash of colour.

Next up, Katrina Tuttle, Veronica MacIsaac, Turbine and Deux Fm in the second AFW designer showcase. Stay tuned!

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