Looking back at my past three years of Park Shows reminds me of the key parallel between my and their core missions: to expose and promote local fashion and arts. Despite the difficulty of fashion-based endeavors to succeed out of Calgary (which I often discuss), It is absolutely a point of pride to see the degree of growth and success that PARK has achieved in these worthwhile endeavors over the relatively short time that I've been going.
Last year was only my second summer going to these events, and I could already see tangible progress. With the debut of the two-night event last year, it already seemed like the Golden Age of PARK. Rather than simply stretch the formerly one-night show into a slower, more lethargic two-night affair, PARK bet on the strength of our local scene with one night of high-fashion designer shows, and another night of more ready-to-wear casual collections.
With the debut of a new format, it was of course a bit of a nail-biter to see if it went well enough on the organizer side to be carried through to this year. So getting that first invite to Park Show and seeing that date range was a great relief for not only myself, but undoubtedly for most of the show's audience. Not only the double night, but also the venue shift to a more intimately-Calgarian setting of the old yellow warehouse in Inglewood.
The main highlight though of this year had to be the designer collections themselves. It seems like no coincidence that with more and more local venues and events betting on them, Calgarian and Canadian designers stepped it up a major notch this year with an eclectic mix of designs and styles on display this year.
It's impossible to pick any singular highlights, however a few notable moments were Gypsy soul designs pulling from a range of traditional retro hippy inspiration for a colourful and easygoing display, Luxx Ready to Wear pulled out an incredible variety of fabrics and cuts for their debut in Park, and Rad Hourani, Lac Ann, and the ever-fantastic SP Badu rounded out the night with their next-level minimalism. And that was just night one. Night two featured Kate Hewko debuting a clothing line with the material and aesthetic exuberance that nobody who's a fan of her jewelry would be surprised at, mainstay favourite Lennard Taylor with a characteristically theatrical performance in which he painted a model's shirt in real time on the runway (essentially the fashion equivalent of a classic rap freestyle), as well as last year's relative newcomers Seed and Year of the Ram building their already fantastic niche fashion interpretations into equally successful runway shows.
Thankfully, what I said last week still seems to stand true: the PARK series is one of the only sequels that doesn't disappoint. However, regardless of anything I say, I'll let you check out the mega photo series below and decide for yourself.