Lights, camera, strut! This Friday, May 13, Richard Robinson Academy of Fashion Design presents the Grande Premiere—Ottawa’s version of Milan Fashion Week, featuring homegrown designers and local student talent. We chatted with the academy’s new owner, Renee Berezowski, about this exciting event and the Ottawa fashion scene.
“The Grande Premiere is a yearly fashion show that highlights the original designs of our students. We invite a panel of judges to choose the ‘best of’ in a variety of design categories. At the end of the show, we award the respective winners! It is very exciting!” says Berezowski.
Richard Robinson Academy is the only haute couture fashion design academy in Canada, founded by Robinson more than 50 years ago. The renowned couturier and fashion designer will be one of the judges this year. He will be joined by Marilou Moles, an Ottawa blogger; Joudel Janoska, an influencer and content creator; Frank Sukhoo, a fashion designer and owner of Sukhoo Sukhoo; MJ Naim Brown, a socialite; Angie Sakla-Seymour, owner of AMTI Management; Pam Dillon, an editor at Luxe Magazine, and JP Bex, a Canadian artist.
Berezowski bought the Academy from the Robinsons in May of 2020, and while persevering through pandemic challenges, she is full of energy and optimism: “I look forward to the future of the school! We are haute couture-focused. That means that we pride ourselves on quality finishings and hand-sewn techniques. Many of our graduates have gone on to work for big companies such as Coach and Le Chateau, and a lot of them have started their own successful fashion brands! We are looking forward to seeing our next big designer breakthrough into the fashion world!”
We took the opportunity to ask Berezowski a few more questions:
Apt613: How has the pandemic affected your work and the ability to present this event?
R.B.: We have not presented Grand Premiere since 2019. So as you can imagine, we are super excited to present our live event this year! Our students have worked through really challenging schedules. With lockdowns and distancing, I had to make a lot of adjustments to the programming. We were able to pivot into a hybrid system where some classes were taught online and others in person. The staff at the Academy have become experts in crisis management! We were successful in keeping everyone safe and there were no major COVID outbreaks. Not only did the pandemic affect our day-to-day, but the protests and interruptions in the city core took a toll on the students’ mental health, especially after such a long two years.
Apt613: What do you wish to see in Ottawa’s fashion scene in the future?
R.B.: The fashion designer scene in Ottawa is strong. We have some serious talent in this city. Typically Ottawa isn’t known as a fashion capital, but we believe we can take it there! Ottawa is a growing city with a lot of diversity. There is a lot of opportunity here! Through fashion shows and events, we can build greater awareness in the city, and hopefully people will come out and discover that Ottawa, too, is stylish!
Who can we expect to see on the runway this year?
R.B.: Be prepared for some really amazing new and innovative designs! Firstly, we have invited some of our alumni from 2021 to present, as they never got to do a live fashion show because of the pandemic. We are excited to have them present their designs on the runway. Our headliners and show openers this year are Meagan and Morgan, “The FINN Twins,” our alumni from 2018! They are breaking through the fashion scene in L.A. and New York with their home base in Ottawa. Lastly, but most importantly, we have 35 students from both our first- and second-year programs ready to present their original designs on the catwalk. All of these designers are going to be the new upcoming Canadian designers that everyone will want to watch for!
View this post on Instagram
Tickets to the Grande Premiere, hosted at the Infinity Convention Centre, can be purchased here. It is a gala-style event, with formal dress code.