Calgary, October 22, 2012 – When one is invited to a one-of-a-kind fashion show held in what’s perceived as Canada’s icy answer to Texas, one tends to be sceptical. After all, Calgary is a city known for the Stampeded, a booming oil & gas industry, frigid temperatures, a breathtaking landscape and of course – coffee shop baristas that make more than most Toronto teachers do. OK, so maybe I’m kidding about the last bit (close enough though). The point is that outside of cowboy boots, cowboy shirts and cowboy hats, you wouldn’t associate Calgary with any fashion that isn’t, well, western.
Enter fashion designer and renaissance man extraordinaire, Paul Hardy. The man hit the ground running in 2002 and has won countless accolades for his womenswear, jewellery, accessories, costumes, and even interiors. As if that’s not enough, he’s done extensive humanitarian work helping to raise money for marginalized women in Africa.
This past weekend he teamed up with Tourism Calgary to host a very special ten year anniversary event that showed us another side of Calgary. The day began with a Saturday brunch overlooking a picturesque freshly snow-covered Prince’s Island Park. Guests flew in from all over Canada and the USA to start their morning with a meet-and-greet with Paul Hardy at the award-winning River Café Restaurant. A brief break afterwards allowed us enough time to visit the Calgary Tower and that really cool shopping mall called The CORE. The place even has its own indoor botanical gardens.
Fast forward to the evening, which began with a VIP red carpet reception hosted by business mogul Brett Wilson, formerly of Dragon’s Den. The night then transitioned into the main event under the auspices of country music superstar Paul Brandt, two-time Juno award winner Greg Sczebel, Peter Barbee from Among Savages, and an ensemble from the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Some incredible local food and beverage offerings from Calgary’s award-winning culinary stars, establishments and suppliers didn’t hurt either.
Paul Hardy Spring/Summer 2013 told a story of an Amish girl fleeing her colony for New York City where she pursues her dream of becoming a model. Or is that Sunday nights on TLC? The collection is a coming-of-age story of a girl attempting to find a greater sense of wholeness by reconciling the reverent traditions of her past with her human experiences in the world as she knows it.
This glorious fashion opera was broken down into acts, carried out in an enchanting transformation of Hardy’s Inglewood studio. Each chapter documented this personal evolution through fashion and music. The SS13 palette was limited and that comes as no surprise for the Amish dress code is restrictive – even in colour. Black, shades of white, accents of grey are contrasted by rebellious burst of flame orange and introspective French pool blue. Brilliant how Hardy incorporates varying degrees of Amishness in a compelling manner throughout. From handmade and distressed effects to billowing dresses that almost touch the floor, it’s clear that Amish is inspiration and not gimmick. The details are incredible – shredded strips beaded on tulle, metal blends for hammered effects, leather with distressed sackcloth fusing, 3D lace effects of tulle on tulle reference the evolution of the young woman’s path as she reconciles past with her future. The temptation to delve into allegory is hard to resist for in many ways, this may have been Hardy’s story and not the girl’s.
Runway Photos: Phil Crozier, PHOTOPHILCRO
Event & Backstage Photos: Spiro Mandylor, Olympus Digital Photography
Calgary Skyline Photo: Tourism Calgary