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The Fulcrum catches up with Ottawa Fashion Week designers

ATTRACTING DESIGNERS FROM around the globe and featuring a wide range of local talent, Ottawa Fashion Week was the place to be this past weekend. While the glittering runway, glamour, and impressive designs may have stolen the show, the designers behind this year’s fashion week were the real stars. Though they may prefer to let the clothes do the talking on the catwalk, some of the designers from this season’s show sat down with the Fulcrum to talk about their collections.

Jana Hanzel from Jana & Emilia Fashion Design

Jana Hanzel and Emilia Torabi are local designers who normally design clothes for business wear. Jana & Emilia Fashion Design line is aimed at giving women more options than the basic black or navy suits for work. Hanzel and Torabi also offer fashion design and consultation for individual clients. Their most recent collection that debuted at fashion week is a departure from their typical style and featured  more vibrant and colourful tones.

The Fulcrum: What do you foresee for spring/summer 2012 collections? 

Jana Hanzel: It’s not much about particular trends, I think. Now the trend is being different. Whatever suits you, whatever you look good in, whatever you want! Whatever statement you want to convey, so I would do this. I wouldn’t think about trends.

What inspired you when creating the collection?

We wanted to put together African inspiration with Western [world] style, so it’s like a mix of those. Africa is a very big continent, so [in and of] itself it has a lot of influences. The clothes—although they are different—they are wearable. You can wear them anytime [and] that [was] our main focus: Making clothes that are wearable and unique.

Your collections are usually very business-oriented and more reserved, but your designs for next season are a departure from that. Is there any particular reason why you chose this route?

We wanted to provide variety. We can do beautiful business [wear], beautiful clothes for Ottawa weather, [but we can also] do beautiful African designs for spring and summer. Anything is achievable.


Samuel Dong from Samuel Dong

Samuel Dong designs are based on his personal motto: Every woman is a flower waiting to bloom. Having been a designer for quite some time, this Montreal-based craftsman’s most recent work is an ode to more feminine and elegant styles. With his line sold in more than 2,000 boutiques around the world and two stores in Montreal, Dong has been dressing women with style for over 20 years.

The Fulcrum: There was a lot of drama, intricate dresses, and romantic-inspired elegance in this collection. What influenced you for the upcoming season?

Samuel Dong: We got a lot of inspiration from flowers [and] gardens. It’s very simple—we got it from there. The most important thing is that when I get these kinds of ideas, I have to go looking around for the fabric. Otherwise it can’t be worn. You have to find the fabric. Luckily my old fabric suppliers knew what I wanted.

You started designing your own line almost 12 years ago and did contract design work before that. How do you continuously find inspiration for your work? 

That same question is like, ‘How do we keep life going on?’. As long as life goes on, the ideas keep coming. 

As a designer, do you tend to look at trends or do you follow your artistic intuition?

Mostly it’s about your inspiration. As a designer, that’s my first job. My second job is as a businessman. So as a businessman, I have [to see] what is selling [well] and what is not selling. But, of course, as a designer I have a sense [of inspiration] and what is in the heart.

Fashion is always moving forward. What can we expect from Samuel Dong next season?

We have to care about [where] we’re living. I can tell you my [upcoming] fall collection … is green. Green to protect the earth.

—Sofia Hashi