Wrap Me Up: An Ode to Winter Dressing

Words by Natasha Grodzinski

When I woke up two days ago, there was frost on my neighbour’s roof. I’ve tried to deny it, tried to ignore it, but there’s no way to escape it.
Winter is coming.

And when you experience winter in Ottawa, you know you’re in for four and a half months of snow piles and frozen fingertips.

Cold weather is an undisputed part of our national identity. Evan Esar famously said, “Canada’s climate is nine months winter and three months late in the fall.” When Europeans first came to Canada, one of their biggest challenges for settlement was surviving the winter.

But we’re built for winter, aren’t we? We’re Canadians. It’s supposed to be part of our constitution to withstand the howling and biting northern winds. I find even after hundreds of years of living here, we’re still not used to it. We wait for a heated bus with shaking anticipation. We run into warm coffee shops and stamp our boots inside to rid ourselves of the snow clinging to our feet.

We huddle close, and we huddle up.

Growing up in Canada, one of the first things I learned was how to dress for winter. My first snowsuit experiences were à la A Christmas Story. I was barely able to move. Halloween turned into a game of, “What costumes can we fit over this parka?” Getting ready to go tobogganing was an olympic sport all on its own.

If summer is about shedding layers, winter is about building a bunker. It’s about burrowing yourself into wool, leather, cotton; just about anything warm you can get your hands on. More often than not, I find myself wrapped in a plaid blanket, surveying my cold student house like a weathered king surveying his barren land.

I need a good coat. That is my ultimate goal every winter. Find the coat that will keep you alive without making you look like the Michelin Man. In the 4th grade, I did not succeed in the second venture. I had a silver, puffy coat. It kept me nice and toasty for a few months before it started to bleed feathers. My friends called it The Incredible Puff CoatTM .

For most of my childhood, I wore my sister’s hand-me-downs. She was older, and growing at a much faster rate than myself (or that was until high school, when I victoriously surpassed in height.) I wore the Northern Reflections parkas for kids, the OshKosh snow pants and hats knitted by my grandmother.

As I got older, I started to buy myself coats. I went to vintage stores, to independent stores, to chains, all in the search of finding an affordable poly-wool blend to keep me safe from the elements. I find I’ve favoured ones at least two sizes too big; perfect for fitting as many layers underneath them as I can. During my second year of university, I wore a men’s coat for the winter, one found after an hour of digging in Value Village. It had a hole in the lining and cost me $20. Every time I put it on I felt like Humphrey Bogart.

Scanned by Frederic. Reworked by Nick & jane for Dr. Macro's High Quality Movie Scans website: http://www.doctormacro.com. Enjoy!
Dr. Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans

Usually, the coats I buy are black. I’m unsure if it’s a colour preference, or if I’m obsessed with looking like a vampire. There I go, lumbering down Bank Street in the middle of a snow storm: black coat, white hair and pale face.

 

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Every coat I’ve owned, I’ve loved. Even the puffy coat. They represent a timeline of my winters in Canada, and when I remember the coat, I remember events associated with it. That thick peacoat was the one I wore my first winter away from home. That parka was the one I brought to Sault Ste. Marie with me. In the process of keeping myself warm, I’ve created a lineage of outerwear.

And while I do not necessarily love winter (for me, it just lasts too damn long), I love my coats. This coming winter, I have a calf-length wool peacoat. Of course, it’s black. When I see frost again, I will be ready for it. Grudgingly so, maybe, but I’ll be ready.

 

VELO VOGUE Fashion Show

This Saturday, June 6th, the much loved and loyally followed bicycle blog, Ottawa Velo Vogue, will host their annual fashion show and fundraiser.

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We can confirm through personal experience that this is a really fun and unique event, but we’re extremely eager to see what Zara Ansar and her team have planned for their event at Maker Space North.  The fashion show has grown tremendously and always sells out, but now with a much larger venue, there’s more room for live acts, such as local pop sensation, NOAH, and a wicked cool set up, with visuals by VJ DRIFTNOTE.

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While raising money for Right Bike, this is not your average fashion show; it’s a bicycle fashion show! Models will be wearing stylish and functional attire while riding bikes. An event would not be complete without food, drinks, silent auction, raffles, and much more.

To learn more about the event, go here, or to get tickets, go here!

For a chance to win tickets, head to our Twitter page to enter the 24 hour contest!

 

 

Island Park Distribution: Ottawa’s Newest Thread Barons

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This coming Friday, April 24th, a launch party of epic proportions will be going down at House of Common in Hintonburg. Beer will be supplied by Dominion City Brewing Co., beats by DJ Lamb Rabbit and Eric Roberts, and to fill your semi-inebriated hunger pains will be the Gongfu Bao Cart! Holy children-on-fire, can you say awesome?

Now, who are the ingenious devils responsible? Ladies and gents, they are called Island Park Distribution.

Island Park Distribution, if you haven’t heard, is a brand new apparel start-up by Ottawa natives Martin Conley-Wood and Richard Monette. The name comes from Ottawa’s own Island Park Drive in Westboro where the two friends grew up together only streets away. Their working manifesto is in the true spirit of free-range creativity, collaborative entrepreneurship, and cultural growth, focusing on creative integrity and respect.

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The concept is tried and true, but they’ve done a couple things to mix it up. Firstly, there are no restrictions or guidelines for the artists, they have complete creative control (I like to call it free-range creativity). Secondly, their artists actually get paid a fair wage with no hidden contract fees or charges; fifty percent of the profit from every t-shirt sale goes directly to the corresponding artist. If you are an artist or designer who wants to get involved send them a shout at islandparkdistribution@gmail.com.

Currently their product line consists of t-shirts, each design by a different artist, and a multitude of 5-panel hats. Plans for product expansion include tank tops for summer, sweaters come fall, and a continuous smorgasbord of fresh designs. They may have just started but by golly they have some fun things in store.

Photographs by John Finnigan Lin.

A Cultural Chic Affair

There’s no better way to welcome spring than with bright, colourful fashion and delicious cuisine. On the eve of Easter Sunday, RSVP Events hosted a fashion event and fundraiser called A Cultural Chic Affair at the Delta Hotel in downtown Ottawa. Gifted designers, excited guests, and the most elegant models strolled around the hotel floor. The night’s goal was to promote local businesses and show off beautiful clothing created by Ontario’s gifted designers, as well as to fundraise for Nelson House charity to help abused women in Ottawa.

The evening began at 6 o’clock with drinks, hors d’oeuvres and live music. Just outside of the main room, a number of silent auction items were available to bid on. One in particular, being donated by Afric Du Canada (a Gatineau shop selling clothing, shoes, paintings and jewellery straight from Africa), was a soft-hued painting of a tribe gathered in front of their huts.

Nancita Kapi, a local soulful singer, opened the night with smooth, effortless vocals. She hypnotized the audience as her voice soared through the high notes of a beautiful blues song. Everyone was entranced as Nancita commanded the stage with ease. Find out more about her and her album here.

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The main event was the fashion show. Designers from all over Ontario presented their current line. Jana & Amelia Fashion Design Studio have a smart and sophisticated collection, with clothing for both men and women all made in Canada. From striking red dresses to sharp, business-women-on-the-go green jackets, this line was definitely a crowd-pleaser. Check out their work here.

Following Jana & Amelia, was Tufafi Fashion. Intricate tribal patterns and elegant designs made their way across the runway. Charifa Labarang, founder of Tufafi Fashion, started the line with the intensions of exploring her culture, the world of fashion, and sharing her discoveries with others. Labarang believes that African print should be worn every day because it is an expression of celebration. One piece in particular, being a backless, above-the-knee dress that flared from the hips was a real eye-catcher. The blue and yellow shapes popped against the red and white motif of the dress. Explore her line here.

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After Tufafi Fashion was Sidow Designs by Faduma Sidow. This line was a huge hit. People cheered and whistled when the models strutted down the catwalk. Faduma recently graduated from Richard Robinson Academy of Fashion Design in Ottawa and this is her first collection. She drew her inspiration from her Somali background as well as her love for long, classic gowns. The intention of her line is to move people or make them feel positive emotions when they see the clothes. This could not be more true for what happened when the models walked the runway. Gemstones placed subtly in just the right spots gave every single piece a wow factor. One stand-out item from her line was a long, icy blue cape that draped down to the floor. Red jewels trickled down the trim of the hood and cascaded down the shawl collar. This piece looked like it could be seen on a New York Fashion Week runway, proving the incredible talent that Ottawa has within the design industry.

Intermission was a chance for guests to browse vendors from local businesses. Curly Hair Designs (who styled the models’ hair for the fashion show) were showcasing their hair products, Aquilla Design Company were showing off themed aprons for those who like to cook with style, and AMC Hair Studio had a table with displays of hair samples and products.

Chidima Designs displayed multicolored purses, bowties, hair clips and other accessories all in various fun patterns. Shakara Designs had a slide show going with lovely bridal hair styles. Beads Eleganza, Zainab Azhar (makeup artist) and Sabrah’s Reflexology also sponsored the event.

The food that was served was flavorful and delicious. People gravitated towards the table filled with delicious appetizers made by event volunteers, curious to know what they were trying, what it was called, and how it was made. The spicy, coconut rice was a crowd favorite.

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The DJs for the evening were Tribal Threat, who kept an upbeat tempo to match the excited mood of the guests. Tribal Threat is a duo of two Ottawa-based DJs that play all types of music, from house, dancehall, R&B, to hip hop and more. You can check out their SoundCloud for samples here.

After intermission, Aquilla Design Company’s drew everyone back to the runway. From Toronto, Tanyta Bolden showed off her one of a kind apron designs as well as some flirty yet sophisticated attire. Inspired by the fashion of the ’50s and ’60s, Tanyta puts a modern spin on a classic style. She loves the trends that appear on the television series Mad Men and her line reflects precisely that with its lively prints and colors on elegant and professional garments. She wants to promote confidence in women and show that putting effort into your style goes a long way. Her passion comes out in her clothing, which says that it’s fun to put together an outfit, and it’s not as hard as one might think. Check out her Facebook page.

AMM Line Productions ended the show with a bang. The vibrant, electrifying pieces in this line seemed to emit an energy that bounced off of the runway and brought life to everyone in attendance. The cheers didn’t seem to end while models danced and smiled down the runway in bright blues, yellows, and purples. Even Nancita Kapi modelled a few pieces and blew the crowd away with a beautiful strapless romper. Browse her online collection.

A Cultural Chic Affair was a one-of-a-kind experience that brought recognition to local Afro-Caribbean businesses, gorgeous models of all tones and sizes, and displayed beautiful creations by talented designers. Being the first event of its kind, the organizers rightfully hope it will become an annual affair, and continue to enrich Ottawa’s fashion and design culture.

To check out future updates from RSVP Events, visit www.rsvp-events.ca

Issue 08 now online

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Spring issue is now available online (and of course at our stockists in print)!

Enjoy the colourful and light-hearted content, as well as some encouraging and emotional words. Beautiful images and playful design.

We suggest reading this in a leisurely setting, perhaps a cafe, or on a chair by the window. Enjoy.