Halifax: NSCAD students steal the first Atlantic Fashion Week show

A look from Alison Seary's Spring 2010 collection, presented at Atlantic Fashion Week. Photography by Brent McCombs

Following in Atlantic Fashion Week tradition, the first designer showcase of Halifax’s two-night AFW kicked off in the Mercedes-Benz showroom on Kempt Road last Wednesday with work by current students of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. Unlike the past, however, their unveiling didn’t whip by with only the ghost of a few key pieces lingering in its wake. Instead, the NSCAD students, their designs rich with imagination and artistry, have completely swallowed my memory of the evening. Our art college, ever strengthening its fashion department, must be doing something right.

Read a round-up of the shows, after the jump.

Under the label Chloé Comme Parris (chloecommeparris.ca), Chloé Gordon and her sister Parris Gordon take up the bulk of the night’s imprint on my mind. Having brought to the table one of the only truly wearable collections to NSCAD’s Wearable Art Show in the spring (and having shown up to Wednesday night’s event in the most incredible leather pants and dagger earring), this designer’s addition to AFW was one I was eager to relish—and Chloé didn’t disappoint. Chloé Comme Parris poured a collection of tribal polish down the runway, pairing sexy sheaths in organic silhouettes with the tailored cuts of coattailed blazers and leather vests. Inspired by fish, references to gills and fins flitted along hems and side seams and many of the airier fabrics were dyed using the rust—an allusion to water pollution—on found objects in the art college’s metal shop.

See looks from the Chloé Comme Parris collection.

Danica Olders, with her line Stiks by Rustik (rustiklothing.com), matched the Gordons’ mingling of femininity and edge on her female models, swapping the aquatic inspirations for something of the dry-land (and perhaps even feathered) variety. But Olders, who says she’s frustrated with women’s wear’s adoption of masculine lines, ventured into menswear and is hoping to give the male silhouette back to, well, men. Committed to making everything her models wore on the runway herself—not always the case for young, emerging designers—Olders suited her male models in cozy scarves, tribal vests, military jackets, simple shirts and jeans with exposed zippers. I had already drafted a Rustik must-haves list by the end of her short collection: a thick, double-strap cherry leather belt and a collarbone grazing dream catcher earring to add to my collection—an item, I’ll admit, I’ve already picked up.

See looks from the Stiks by Rustik collection.

Designer Pamela Onecia Johnston, also a NSCAD student, has grown since her last appearance on the runway, this time presenting two whimsical children’s outfits in earthy takes on the classic Easter-egg tints. She also created an oversized hooded jacket and sweet little garden frock, fairytale-like pieces that brought the youth of her children’s wear into her more grown-up garments. Alison Seary, (see a look from this collection) who made it to week three of local fashion competition Off the Cuff, showcased her skills in the textiles department with treated denim and—my favourite of her pieces—a woven capelet that any chilled shoulder would be honoured to don. Punctuating the handful of NSCAD students was third-year St. Francis Xavier University student Sarah McKenna, who exhibited a small collection of tiny, flirty party dresses, one of which (a floral, boustier of a thing) had many a frock-loving lady leaning forward in cupidity.

After collections from Susan Johnston, who took the event’s attendees into the past with pieces made from her late grandmother’s fabric, Lycheelime, John Michael of Drunk Gurl, The 3 Elements, Maxwell John Designs, and Akshay Tyagi completed the NSCAD bookends, presenting several pieces from his Thaw collection. Adding that little bit of theatricality we’ve come to expect of Tyagi’s use of the runway, his final model, enrobed in a clear plastic overcoat and an icy blue double-zip textured dress, was accompanied for a slow stroll by two barefooted (and bare-chested) men in futuristic white pants and layers of beautiful ocean-hued scarves—the East Coast emerging designer sure isn’t a shy one.

See looks from the Susan Johnston, Lycheelime, 3 Elements, Akshay Tyagi collections.

Next up, Veronica MacIsaac, Orphanage Clothing, Sunsets on the Eastside and more in the second AFW designer showcase. Stay tuned!

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