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#VFW

Rebecca Rowe

Stepping into the Ottawa airport I knew. My bag was going to be way over weight. I’m impressed with myself for being able to carry it as far as I did, if I’m being honest. It was five o’clock in the morning and when the service attendant asked me if I wanted to leave anything behind I gave her a look that made her smile then asked if I simply wanted to pay the overweight fee. I nodded, what could I possibly leave behind on what was going to be my biggest show to date?

I smiled and handed her over a credit card and off went my over stuffed suitcase full of my fall collection. I think at that moment I was waiting for something to happen. I don’t know what exactly, a light to open from the sky? A chorus of children to start singing? Either way, I waited until the suitcase went out of sight. Nothing happened. I walked down to security and got asked to take off my shoes. 

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing mountains. Looking through the little oval windows of the plane through to the tops of these majestic peaks and valleys it took my breath away.

How could you ever get tired of mountains?
Me, being me, got right off the plane, dropped off my bags and headed straight to the opening gala. I refused to miss anything and jet lag is a myth, that’s what coffee is for. Walking through the courtyard to where the event was taking place the first thing you notice is the five foot tall #VFW all lit up, like you see in the movies. I felt extremely underdressed in this crowd. Six inch heels for days and everyone dressed in their own style. 

STYLE TIP: You always look the best when you feel like you. Dressing up does not mean Playing Dress Up. Elevate your existing style with some cool accessories, fun shoes or fancy makeup. If your everyday style is jeans and a t-shirt, why not try a pair of nice jeans, button up blouse, red heels and big statement neckless? A pop of a red lip and you're dressed up and ready to go.


The shows were great, a collection of artistic and over the top pieces to kick off the week. Definitely a little bit intimidated by the work strutting on the runway and who wouldn’t be? It’s natural to stress out and compare work, but we’re not going for the same customer or with the same goals. Spent most of the week reminding myself that it’s okay to be different and to do what I do.

          

Coffee and media, what could go wrong right? Well, Google lied with their directions and no one showed up until the last hour. You know what that does to an artist’s brain? Exactly. Luckily enough I have a really good friend who showed up, slightly frazzled from the Skye Train breaking down causing a thirty minute delay in everyones commute! Behind her came a swarm of influencers and media who poured over my pieces, asking questions and taking photos. My day went from terrible to fantastic in moments.  THINGS TO REMBER: everyone's day is scheduled different and sometimes things happen. Breathe and trust that the prep work you did was enough. 

      

You know when you wake up on Christmas morning and you just know it’s going to be a good day? That’s what it felt like on the day of my runway. Blood pumping as you pack up your bag, trying to remember all the things you’re going to need for the day. Charger, clothes, cell phone, keys, have everything? Ok. Lets go. You get to the venue and…you wait. The moment the models arrived, who are all stunning thin, fit creatures with amazing bone structure, I just started throwing clothes on them. Who fit what and what looked best on whom, until we found a line-up I could live with. Then off to hair and makeup where, you wait. These artists are fantastic at what they do. Walking into this haze of hairspray and bobby pins, the sound of blowdryers take over the sound of models’ giggling and taking selfies. The head of hair came up to me to confirm the hair look and with a check on his list left to find the next designer. The makeup room was the complete opposite. Quiet as every artist in there was concentrating on the perfected winged eyeliner.

Back on the main stage a little blonde woman held up a microphone and guided the models through their walkthrough.
“Too fast."
“Third chair” - talking about how far up the models needed to walk.
“WAIT”

I was scared of her. That’s saying something. Just like that, the walkthrough was done and the girls were swept back off to hair and makeup.

You can tell when the show starts. Even backstage, because the energy in the room shifts. A once playful or stressful, (depends on who you are and what your job is) environment became anxious with static energy. You can hear the guests mingling behind the curtain. That fist designer is starting to sweat and the guests go silent. The announcer makes her speech and that same little blonde from before nodded to the first model. Off she goes for what feels like half a second. Turning the corner and theres a huge grin on her face and the tension is broken. At least for designer number one.

When my turn finally came partway through the evening I could feel the stress rash starting up my neck. I changed what every girl was wearing, starting to mix and match the lineup in my afternoon of waiting. The girls went with it and slipped into their designated outfits. The lights went dim and the music started. By this point in the evening all the girls are just excited, dancing behind stage in line and ready to strut out in the next designer look. The blonde gave her nod and out went that first girl.

   

There’s a monitor backstage where we can see the models and my heart was pumping. They looked great, you could see the flashes of the photographers start and the look on the girl’s face when they came back in was amazing. I had all eight of my girls line up in two lines for the finally and in perfect unison they strutted out creating a walkway for me to come through. This was honestly the hardest part of this entire experience. Not showing your work, essentially an extension of you, but actually going out and putting a face to your brand.



Then it was over.

The meet and mingle with me (and my dressed models) that took place on the runway during the break was a blur of flashbulbs and questions. “What was your inspiration?” “Is this your first show?” “what’s coming up next?”. I honestly don’t remember what I said. With an announcement from the DJ we all rushed to backstage. My pieces were hastily removed and put back on the hangers. I packed it all up and that was it.

 

I just showed at Vancouver Fashion Week.


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