Ottawa Fashion Week draws diplomats, designers, students.

Ariel Hartman

This week, Ottawa’s fashion elite were out in full swing, celebrating talented designers at Ottawa’s biannual fashion week.

A model for Undone clothing at Ottawa Fashion Week

With loud, pumping music and the sound of chatter, the second floor of the Arts Court on Daly Street was filled with more than 100 people waiting go into the theatre where three Ottawa fashion designers were showcased.

From Wednesday through Saturday, three designers a night showed their collections at the Arts Court Theatre.

This year’s fashion week attracted a wide variety of people, from the U.S. ambassador to Canada, to Aurelie Dahoo, a grade 12 Ottawa student.

“I just wanted to see everything and thought (tonight) was great,” said Dahoo.

Saturday was Dahoo’s first fashion show, and she said she really enjoyed herself.

“I really liked the atmosphere. It was a really intimate feeling,” she said.

Dahoo said she initially went to the fashion show because her friend was going to be a model, but she found herself enjoying the show having a lot of fun.  She said the shows were a lot better than she thought they would be, and “there was a bit of everything.”

“It was definitely worth $20,” she said with a laugh.

Courtney Flood, an Ottawa-based designer who was the first to show on Wednesday night, was at the Saturday show to see the other designer’s work and to show her designs to interested buyers.

Manning the racks of clothes that made up her line, Flood said she was really excited to have been included in this year’s showcased designers considering she is fairly new to the fashion industry.

“I’ve only been doing this for about six months,” she said.

Flood, who mostly makes made-to-order pieces, said she is hopeful that all this attention will help her bring in more business.

“I’m hoping to attract more clients. The clientele I am looking for is definitely here,” said Flood.

Charity Is In

This year, Ottawa Fashion Week partnered with the Canadian International Learning Foundation, an Ottawa-based charity that has volunteers in developing countries who work together to improve learning standards in those countries.

A model for Jana Hanzel at Ottawa Fashion Week

Ryan Aldred, the president of the Canadian International Learning Foundation, was at the shows every night handing out information flyers to interested fashionistas.

Aldred said he was very happy with the amount of interest the charity garnered over the four nights, and that many people had stopped and talked to him.

“It has been a tremendous opportunity to network, and so many people have (been interested),” he said.

Because the Canadian International Learning Foundation relies on volunteers around the world that connect online, there are very few operating costs, said Aldred. The majority of the money donated goes directly to their initiatives in Afghanistan and Uganda.

“We use (fair-trade) coffee sales to cover the cost of our flyers,” he said.

Aldred added he even had the chance to speak with David Jacobson, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, and his wife, who attended Friday’s show.

“Words can’t even describe how fantastic it was to speak to (Jacobson).”

Aldred said he has been very pleased with the turnout and he is looking forward to continuing the partnership with Ottawa Fashion Week in 2011.

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