Monday, October 10, 2011

NB Fashion Week: a review

Friday was the day for the New Brunswick Fashion Week. For an event that had promised so much potential, it never really peaked to expectations when it came time. I truly believe that honesty is the best policy when it comes to blogging because this is one of the bases of a blogger`s credibility. As much as I believe in the concept of a New Brunswick Fashion Week and stand behind promoting a fashion industry here, this event was not executed nearly as well as it could have been. However, I am thankful for (in the spirit of Thanksgiving!) having the opportunity to improve my knowledge of what is required to build a fashion industry and for having been introduced to the talent and hard work of local designers.

If you remember back to my initial post on NBFW a few months ago, this event was initially to be Moncton-based but expressed interest from other cities grew it to include Saint John and Fredericton. Saint John, of all locations, had by far the most people who expressed interest and a desire to contribute to this event. At two Industry Nights hosted in July and August in Moncton and Rothesay, respectively, big plans had been laid out for a week full of events to promote a true fashion industry in Atlantic Canada.

NBFW logo designed by Danielle Queen

In the end, NBFW was condensed into a one day event at the Trade & Convention Centre. Lack of organization and marketing on part of the company organizing and directing the event was evident. Events from Moncton, Fredericton, and KV had been quietly dropped from the plate. Schedules and information were very limited in what was provided to potential sponsors and others interested in promoting the event. What little information was provided usually changed and with little notice. Radio ads featured a week in advance of the event were not even entirely accurate, nor was information in the paper.

However, with that being said, local retailers, businesses, models, hair stylists and make-up artists involved executed their roles to the best of their ability with professionalism. I was really impressed with this.

The event was to run from 1-5pm with a trade show of vendors booths, accompanied by local retailers showcasing their merchandise on the runway. I arrived at the Trade and Convention Centre mid-afternoon to find out that, despite having the actual schedule (in Excel spread-sheet form) from the organizing company in my hand, that the production had shut down shortly after 3pm. The schedule had changed so radically that all fashions had already been displayed on the runway, even without notice to the store owners showcasing their clothing and accessories. I began to snap photos of the retailer's tables but then they turned down the lights so that I couldn't even finish that task.

I was a little surprised as well to see no sign of the New Brunswick Fashion Week logo (as above) anywhere at the event. There was also no mention or poster of the charity that was being supported (prior to verbal announcement at the evening show): The Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation's The Give, in supporting stem cell therapy. It was announced at the Industry Night at Shadow Lawn in August that NBFW is donating 10% of its proceeds towards this excellent cause. This would have been an important and helpful fact to better publicize.

(Image credit: SJRH Foundation)

As far as the evening fashion show went, it was good to see that the retailer`s merchandise was added to be included. The models did an excellent job of walking the runway and showcasing items, both retailer and designer. The choice of low lighting in the room proved a challenge to get good photos, but for an amateur photographer, I managed to figure it out!  

I appreciated the acknowledgement of bloggers`presence at this event and the respect we received. We were included with the press to be able to receive media passes. Unfortunately, there was no section or reserved seating for media as we were told in advance, and there really wasn`t the opportunity to go back stage as promised (unless you snuck back there!)

After a long night...the true purpose of what this event was truly to be about finally hit the runway. The designers`work was truly impressive. I just wish they had gotten more time that they had truly deserved- and after a long day for many of them- that they had been featured earlier in the show rather than all having to wait until the last 50 minutes of a 3.5 hour show. (For example, we had to sit through a 4 song Zumba performance before we finally got to see the designers`work- the instructors/performers were really good, but it just did not seem to be a proper fit for a fashion show.)

Those who waited it out to see the designers` pieces on the runway would agree that it was more than well worth the wait. In total, 6 designers from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were featured:

BEC fashions by Rebecca Pike (Halifax)

Danielle Queen Designs by Danielle Queen (Saint John!)

Clutch Culture by Mo Handahu (Halifax)

Ginic Fashions by Ginette Bijould and Nicole Cameron (Moncton)

 CBrido Collection by Celine Brideau (Fredericton)

 Drunk Gurl by John Michael Brewer (Halifax) 

(Left to Right): (1) Designers hit the runway for their final walk, (2) Mo of Clutch Culture takes a bow at the end of her showing, (3) Danielle of Danielle Queen Designs graces the runway after her Saint John designs have run, (4) Mo Handahu and Rebecca Pike walk to the end of the runway hand-in hand for the final designer walk.

Seeing this show live made me realize how much talent we really do have here in Atlantic Canada and how important it is to preserve and support their work. These designers have created pieces that I would truly love to wear! They presented their work with integrity and professionalism....we really do have the beginning and potential for a fashion industry here!

To see the full collections from each designer, check out the album I posted on the blog's Facebook page:

Unfortunately, this fall's event didn't quite do them justice. With better organization, communication, and execution, advanced planning, and a great increase in marketing to the public, I could see next spring's New Brunswick Fashion Week being a huge hit. It really has the potential to be a huge success, especially if there are people on the ground in the local cities helping to plan (the organizing company were based out of province). Nonetheless, I'm so glad this idea was brought to Saint John. The intentions and passion behind the idea were there, yet there is a definite room for improvement in what can be offered next season and how we can get the message out for increased participation.

At the end of the night, I did leave the event with a feeling of excitement after being introduced to these designers' work. For more of the my favourite aspects and moments from this event, stayed tuned for upcoming blog posts this week!

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