Saturday, October 8, 2011

My experience at Ottawa Fashion Week

It's been exactly a week since my wife and I went to the closing night of Ottawa Fashion Week. I had mixed emotions about my experience so I wanted to take some time to collect my thoughts so I could write a more constructive blog post. Ottawa already has its share of pessimistic and cynical writers.

Before last Saturday we'd never been to a professional fashion show before so we were pretty excited. It ended up being just like the many shows I'd seen on Fashion Television. The set up looked very professional. Cameras were flashing. Industry professionals sat in the front row with very serious faces either shaking their heads in disapproval or nodding their heads in delight, typing away on their smart phones. The difference between being at a show and seeing one on TV is like watching sports on TV and being in the stadium or arena. It was a whole different experience.

The first show of the night was hometown girls Jana & Emilia. It was amazing to see European women making African  clothes that looked pretty authentic. They ended up getting the biggest applause of the night. Later that night I also overheard people still talking about the Kania show from the night before. It was cool to see Ottawa designers stealing the show.

Halfway through the night my excitement unfortunately turned to frustration. During every break we had to go back outside and line up again for the next group of shows. The lines got long so quickly we had to immediately line up for the next group of shows so we weren't able to enjoy the festivities as much as we could have. At the last break we ended up standing in line for an hour and the last section of the night was an hour and a half behind schedule. We stayed to see local designer David McCaffrey but there ended up being another long wait before the last designer so my wife and I left. At the time I was fuming. I'm not sure how fashion events usually go but I didn't like spending more time standing and waiting than actually watching the shows.

I was talking to a dad who was there with his 13 year old daughter and he noted how different fashion events are from sports events. When you're watching sports there's a time clock so you know how much time is left, the breaks in between periods or quarters are timed, and they always start on time.

So did I have a good time? I did...but yet I didn't. At the time I questioned whether I would ever attend Ottawa Fashion Week in years to come. I would, but they'd really have to work on the experience for non-VIPs. There were some very awesome moments that night, mainly the actual shows, and the atmosphere was electric, something I hadn't experienced in Ottawa to date, but the frustrations unfortunately made me forget about the things they did well.

Nevertheless, I think OFW has the makings of a great event. The city really needs it. I wish them much success and growth in the years to come.

Kevin Bourne

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