How would you describe the style scene in Ottawa?
It’s ever-evolving. My mother Eleanor Wilson was a fashion model in Ottawa from the mid-1970s to the 1990s and worked with some of Canada’s top designers. At that time, there were only a handful of boutiques and a few thriving shopping malls in the nation’s capital. Today, there is more variety and the scene is much brighter, sophisticated and less conservative. The savvy gala-going crowd are keen to break out the bling, while the 20 and 30-something generation is driving the campaign to support local and Canadian designers. We have veteran designers like Richard Robinson and Frank Sukhoo and newcomers such as Amy Donovan, Arfie Lalani and Amir Zargara.
In Ottawa who are the upcoming style influencers we should watch and follow (people and or retailers, best-kept secret)?
It used to be that shoppers would travel to Montreal, Toronto or across the border to get their clothing and shop for shoes. With strong independent boutique owners (Schad, Anik Boutique , Shepherd’s Fashions, Fashion United, Outskirts, Victoire, Renée Levesque Bijoux Mode, Stunning!, L’Hexagone Menswear, E.R. Fisher and the list goes on) and top shopping centres like St. Laurent, Rideau Centre and Bayshore Shopping Centre, you never have to leave the city. The national capital region is bursting with talented wedding designers, makeup artists, hairstylists and style mavens of all ages. One of the things that makes this city great is its eclectic neighbourhoods. Every ‘hood’ has its own flavour, both food and fashion-wise, and is worth checking out. We are also a very supportive city and look out for one another. I hear that a lot from PR and fashion agencies when they open a store or host an event in Ottawa.
How do you see the future of style being impacted by fast-fashion and the sustainability movement?
To some extent, the two (couture/craftsmanship versus high-volume cheap fashions) will continue to co-exist, but in an era where styles come and go with the changing seasons, it’s important to be mindful of the waste (in landfills) and the impact that fashion production has on our environment and people who work in the factories. With concerns about climate change and the depletion of natural resources, there is a growing chorus that over-consumption in the fashion industry has got to end. Millennials have been more vocal on the subject of sustainable and recyclable fashion and social justice. Stella McCartney, for example, has been leading the charge for sustainable practices for more than a decade. Even Harvard is studying her business model as a global fashion brand rooted in sustainability. After oil, the textile industry is second biggest polluter on our planet.
What are five fashion trends for fall 2016 that people in Ottawa will adopt?
I love fall clothes — the layers, colours and fresh styles. I just interviewed Richard Simons, the vice-president of merchandise for Simons, who was recently in Ottawa to open his first store here at the Rideau Centre. He outlined eight top trends for autumn and, I have to admit, I’m loving them all. Here’s a look at five trends: British-inspired prints (tartan, checks, houndstooth, herringbone), feminine slip dresses, capes, military-themed accents and a return of the retro 1970s-inspired fashion look. I’m due for a new tartan scarf and can’t wait to go shopping. If you want to know more, our Ottawa Citizen Style magazine comes out Sept. 27.