FASHION: Read all about it!

There’s an apocryphal story about some famous fashion designer, possibly Oscar de la Renta, walking into the Edmonton International Airport about 20 years ago. He takes one look around and remarks: “Oh, my GOD: I’ve never seen so many ugly people!”

The guy was just being pissy. Airports will do that to people. Edmonton has many beautiful people. It’s just that, as general rule – and this certainly doesn’t apply to everyone who doesn’t regularly shop at Wal-Mart – we don’t dress very well. Why, some Edmontonians have been known to go out in public wearing ripped sweatpants and a stained raincoat.

That’s why events like Western Canada Fashion Week (WCFW) – underway through April 1 at the Transalta Arts Barns in Old Strathcona – are so vital for the fashionability of Edmonton. Producer Sandra Sing Fernandes points out that “a lot of famous models are coming out the Alberta area. It’s because we grow them so tall out here. Also, we’ve had so many mixed races. Believe it or not, we’re more mixed here than in the States. I lived in New York for many, many years and I just couldn’t believe when I got back here how many gorgeous women I saw – and men.”

She adds, “Fashion sense is another issue altogether.”

And so the Fashion Police will be out in force at Western Canada Fashion Week, which has something “amazing for everybody,” Fernandes says. Those among us who wallow in “practical” clothing no matter what the occasion (ever seen folk fest producer Terry Wickham wearing a tie?) will learn “what not to wear,” that plaid doesn’t necessarily go with everything and that baseball caps have no place in the fashion world unless they’re tilted and printed with designer brand logos.

It may help to bone up on your FASHION WORDS:

–     Sanctified: That the clothing brand being modelled has the full approval of the designer, as in the Y3 collection show on Tuesday, March 29. Japanese designer Yojhi Yamamoto won’t actually be here, but he is one of several world-class designers who are starting to recognize Edmonton as a good market – and so this show is “sanctified.” Watch this space for updates on an additional WCFW event to support Japanese Earthquake crisis relief.

–     Practical vs. Wearable: Tattered running shoes are practical. High heels are wearable.

–     Fashionista: Pretentious word (like “Foody”) referring to anyone so interested in fashion that you will not be taken seriously if you wear tattered running shoes in their presence.

–     Couture: Meaningless word. It just means any garment that is hand-made.

–     Haute Couture: Custom made designer clothing you cannot possibly afford.

Still, it’s fun to look. Fernandes says there may be a few “wild” get-ups of the sort you see on televised fashion shows – weird-looking models wearing the kind of outfits no one in their right mind would ever wear in public unless you’re Bjork – but for the most part, the designers at WCFW are showing “wearable” clothing.

The event begins Thursday with competitions for emerging designers and stylists before moving onto the fashion shows proper. They include: The Stanley Carroll (Edmonton clothing designer) collection on Friday (March 25), the hair stylists showcase on Sunday (March 27), some wild things expected at the Fantasy Hair and Make-up night on Monday (March 28) and collections from both Alberta and International Designers running every night for the balance of the following week. There will also be live entertainment nightly, with music and dance performances.

The full schedule is here. Tickets are $20 per night or $85 for the whole thing, available at Tix on the Square, or at the Transalta Arts Barns by calling 780.409.1910.