Across the country, the state of fashion events seems to be hanging in the balance (read: the recent cancellation of Toronto Fashion Week). Ironically however, being the city that historically didn't even know about Toronto Fashion Week, this event season has been one for the record books here in Calgary.
We got treated to a transformation of Chinook Mall's north end for Park Show, we donned our best derby shoes and bowler hats for the Packwood Grand, we got close enough to wink at Paul Eli during the inaugural TOM* Calgary Couture Cowboy event, and just last weekend we got to visit the brand new National Music Centre (for my own first time) for a three-story long runway show.
This has been the 8th anniversary of Park Luxe and Park Show, and these events have already matured like a fine wine of thrice its vintage. Coming full circle from their 2011 event at the Arrata Opera Hall, 2016 saw a return to our newest music venue, which almost worked too perfectly for a fashion show to be coincidence. The usual PARK format of pop-up shop, bar, and runway show fit right into the National Music Centre. SP Badu, Atelier suits, and other notable venders dropped in for their pop ups and Rosso was serving up both caffeinated and alcoholic drinks all night to help facilitate some proper mingling leading up to the main event.
With a runway spanning three floors and a total 5 minute walk for the models (major props to them for the feat of looking good while doing so) from beginning to end, the fashion show itself managed to be both sizeable and intimate, unique not only for Calgary but for all of Canada. What was likely a nightmare for planners to organize and pull off (which they certainly did, by the way) was not unlike a lucid dream for both photographers and guests. Starting on the third floor, the models zigzagged through the VIP seating and down the stairs to the lobby for the general audience.
The show featured some of our favourite usual suspects such as House of Nonie, Paul Hardy, Malorie Urbanovitch, Lauren Bagliore, and Henry Singer, as well as a few newcomers. Year of the Ram showed off their beautiful and minimalist intimate apparel line and the engineers and designers behind the brand new Okakie line debuted their innovation-focused contemporary women's suiting which has the capacity to be transformed each season. Another notable addition to this year's roster was the new Atelier brand, launched this summer by Calgary fashion regular and previous ParkShow stylist Lauren Larsen of Ensemble Style. Here are her own candid words about her experience:
"PARK events have always been my favourite events of the year. I love the way it unites the creative people in our city. Several years ago I attended my first PARK event as a guest and was blown away. The energy, music, designers, fashion...it was all very impressive. Shortly after, I requested a meeting with one of the founders, Kara Chomistek, mostly to pick her brain about the industry, how she got into it, and how I could help. Kara's drive to bring Canadian creatives together, and to build a solid foundation for them to showcase their work was so inspiring to me that I knew I needed to help out in any way I could. I ended up volunteering for the next few PARK events, mostly assisting with putting looks together and dressing models, and event after event, I was continually amazed by the outcome - these are truly exceptional fashion productions.
I don't know if I even have the words to describe how it felt to debut my menswear collection, Atelier by Ensemble Style, at PARKLUXE this past weekend. Going from being a volunteer to having my own designs walk down the runway was nothing short of a dream come true. It was an honour to be on the stage alongside some of Canada's most incredible designers, and I think I'm going to be hanging out on cloud nine for quite a while.
Everything about the night was perfect... and I can definitely say that my volunteering in the past really made me appreciate the work that all of the volunteers put in during the weeks and months leading up to the event, to make the night happen. A 1500+ person fashion event takes an army of passionate, generous and amazing people to pull off, and I can truly say that the entire PARK team is all of that and more. "
Thank you to Kara, Megan, Jessie, Phil, Maeghan, and the entire PARK team for the fantastic event! Check out my full gallery below, and I'll see you at Park Show next spring!