Alberta has not always been known as a place where high fashion calls home. However, the artistic genius and impressive drive of PARK (Promoting Artists; Redefining Kulture) has been slowly but surely asserting the fact that western Canada has a voice worth hearing in the arts and culture community. Twice a year, for PARKSHOW and then PARKLUXE, Calgarians are whisked into whatever new world this creative team has dreamed up and bear witness to some of our provinces most talented and promising designer’s most recent collections. The first show that kicks off the summer in Calgary is PARKSHOW. Unlike PARKLUXE, which features established local designers, PARKSHOW is all about the up-and-coming, and displays the work of artists and designers whose work is just starting to make waves in the fashion world. These waves are almost always indicative of a tsunami of talent, as was evident on the runway at this past Saturdays PARKSHOW2015.
Inspired by the moody textures and tones of the Oceanside, the PARK team transformed the Chinook Parkade into a dimly lit coastal experience, where guests walked by shimmering constructed walls, giant art-deco styled waves lit up with blue lights, and step-and-repeats with leafy, vertical hanging gardens as the backdrop.
The show itself featured no less than ten emerging designers from around Alberta. Generally, we noticed minimal lines filled with stunning architecture from many of the collections, and muted, earthy colours abounded. Many of the models wore simple brown mules- the break-out shoe of the summer- provided by Gravity Pope.
Out of all the incredible collections, one in particular stood out, small though it was. Spencer Badu, designer of S. P. Badu designs, wowed the crowd with his post-gender inspired line. Spencer started designing in 2010, with the idea that clothes could challenge perceptions on gender in interesting and meaningful ways. Since then, he and his attention-grabbing pieces have become a local favourite in the Calgary fashion community, finding their way into the closets and hearts of prominent bloggers, photographers, and models. Having worked so tirelessly to bring his work to fruition, we asked what advice he would give to young Calgarians interested in pursuing a career in the industry. He laughed and responded warmly, “Be yourself, and f— trends”. Touche, Mr. Badu.
Guests were treated to designs not only walking the runway, but to a long wall of small, pop-up shops, featuring the work of, believe it or not, even more local artists. Inbetween the two shows, we wandered through the racks of clothing, looking for stand-outs; we weren’t disappointed. House of Nonie’s display was almost obscured by perma-crowd gathered in front. Designer Nina Kahrey made waves earlier this year when her much-talked about first collection was debuted. Having been mentored by Barbara Atkin of Holt Renfrew, Nina has a firm grasp on what it takes to stand out amidst the clamor or young artists vying for attention, and her collection of bold, clean designs speak for themselves. Our personal favourite, was a long, black jacket, in unbelievably soft virgin wool.
The stunning success of PARKSHOW2015 proved once again that PARK does not not shy away from ambition. With more than a dozen artists and designers featured, multiple runway shows, an after-party, and- lest we forget- a parkade as their venue, PARK continues to build their reputation as Alberta’s premier arts and fashion collaboration, and we offer them sincere congratulations on another wonderful show.
The following photos are courtesy of Rob Moses Photography. To view his full gallery, visit his site here. Fantastic coverage! Some great appearances here by The Nobles, Juice Because, and our Jan Wittig.