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Learning the hard way what not to wear at an Ottawa Fashion Week launch party

By Devan Marr on February 7, 2014

Tuesday February 4th was the media launch party for Ottawa’s 11th Fashion Week, being held at the Lac Leamy Hilton. Apartment613 sent me over to check out the event, get the scoop, people watch, and generally feel like I need a new wardrobe.

Held in the Gagnon Room at the Hilton, the launch party was what you would except from an event labelled “Fashion Week.” Servers with champagne, delicious snacks, and well dressed models made their way around the swanky room. Even Mayor Jim Watson was there. He gave some brief remarks, congratulating the organizers on continued success of the week here in Ottawa and for providing the opportunity for local designers to show their creativity and dedication to the industry. Having never been to a Fashion Week, I didn’t know what to expect but certainly everyone else in the room did. There were clusters of people around the room, excitedly discussing the upcoming event, the new Gala format, and I assume some local gossip. As with any media event there was plenty of schmoozing, as Mayor Watson fielded a revolving door of people asking questions and thanking him for showing up. The man certainly knows how to work a room.

As I made my rounds around the room (wondering why I thought dark jeans were going to be appropriate for this event), conversations about marketing and relationships between the designers and industry were the common theme. Although the event wasn’t packed when I was there, people certainly seemed excited about the week. When I eventually made my exit people were still making their way in. I suspect the term fashionably late takes on a liberal meaning at Fashion Week.

This year’s Fashion Week will feature 17 designers, including local designers like Zarucci, who specializes in evening gowns and leather, or Jana and Emillia, a designing duo consisting of a former Computer Science major and an Italian-trained couturier. The organizers have teamed up with the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and will be donating a significant portion of the proceeds of the event to their continued efforts to provide support and counselling for those affected by cancer. The Foundation provides support for the Maplesoft Centre. Maplesoft is Eastern Ontario’s first cancer survivorship centre and features coaching and programs for survivors and their families. A substantial part of this funding is going to come from the Fashion Week Gala, Saturday February 8th.

If the chatter in the room was any indication, Ottawa’s 11th Fashion Week should be quite the event. The launch party went smoothly and I learned a valuable lesson about dressing down and when not to do it. If you’re into design it will be worth the trek out to the Casino to see some of the events, and maybe take a detour to the slots.

Ottawa Fashion Week runs from February 6 to the 8th at Lac Leamy.