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Atlantic Fashion Week night two recap

Atlantic Canadian designers conjure Betty Page's spirit and provincial pride.

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Night two of Atlantic Fashion Week is always dedicated to professional or established designers, as compared to Wednesday night's emerging talent event. This season though, we felt the absence of Katrina Tuttle, who wowed them at Toronto Fashion Week, deux fm (Anna Gilkerson has a new addition that doesn't involve eco-fabric) and Turbine, who has their own event next Friday at the WTCC. I sat beside Turbine's Lisa Drader-Murphy and she told me that her collection, which she'll be debuting that night, is an incredible 350 pieces.

The evening started off unusually with a jewellery show from NSCAD artist-in-residence Megan Allison, who is here from Jamaica. it showed well on the runway, with colourful drama and interesting shapes. Chunky, with lots of floating medallions, and gold mixed with turquoise, these are signature pieces best worn with simple, understated outfits to show them off. Lee Lategan, who is also a jewellery designer, works in cashmere and silks. He has stores in Mahone Bay and Palm Springs, and his collection definitely would appeal to a country club set. Again, it works well on the runway for drama (in particular a long, black silk gown with a modestly high neck that opens up in the back with surprising layers of multi-coloured ruffles), and though his designs are not for a youthful audience, there were a few pieces, like a silk autumnal-toned skirt that could be dressed down with chunky boots.

At only 19, PEI darlings Sunsets on the Eastside (Jackie Skinner, Kirstin Sweet, and Katryna Crabbe) are the epitome of youthfulness. Previous seasons they've wowed with flirty frocks, detailed with unexpected twists: bold colours, peak-a-boo lace-ups and chunky buttons. This time around it appears as if the designers are toying with a more mature, muted palette--edging on glam--but haven't abandoned those girlie details, like a generous sash tied in a bow on the back of a dress, or a tight row of ruffles around the waist of a bubbly champagne-coloured party dress.

In some ways, I think Kim Munson from Orphanage has the hardest job at all. Munson reuses and reconstructs existing clothing, so she's really tied to what she can find, but her construction is so good, and she keeps finding ways of pushing "recycled" fashion. Plus, her shows are always really fun to watch. For the past couple of seasons Orphanage has been working a lot with men's wear--tweeds and pinstripes--and this time, she brought out the Betti Page in all the models with darling bras (lapels on the cups) and high-waisted hot pants made out of suits! Zippers everwhere. They reminded me of early Playboy bunny outfits, but when constructed out of trad men's fabric, any notion of sexual control and power are flipped on its ass.

So part of the job is admitting when you're wrong. Last year I had some reservations about the market potential of Veronica MacIsaac's Celtic-inspired line outside of the region, but my god, anyone who can make a Nova Scotia tartan bikini both cute and sexy has me waving the flag(forget those "come to life" ads, province). Cut from family tartans, this collection brought out the pride, but is also energetic and again, youthful. My only disappointment was not seeing in person an off-the-shoulder plaid gown that graces her current ad.

Next up: gotta-have picks from AFF...

Click on the slideshow to the right for night-two highlights

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