2 Reviews in 1: PARKSHOW SS15 Calgary

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Sarah G. Schmidt's home


I was excited to attend Calgary’s PARKSHOW SS15 as it’s an opportunity to get dressed up and go out. This is especially important to me as this city feels casual, too casual, and this event can help to change that. At the minimum I feel it’s a step in the direction of a better-dressed Calgary.

After attending, I felt torn. That’s a lie. I wasn’t torn, I wasn’t impressed but thought that I should try to be nice. I’ve heard, and even tried from time to time, to adopt the mantra, “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.” I guess I’m sorry; I should have been silent.

Good intentions aside, I couldn’t accept being underwhelmed as my only feeling. I knew my instincts were to be ruthlessly unkind in my review commentary, which also wasn’t the full picture. Sure, there were positives to the event, but I’d be bullshitting if all I did was sing its praises.

My internal battle was strong, yet I decided to put forth an effort to try to be fair or, at the very least, kind. I decided to share two reviews of the event. A cutthroat look and a more kind look. But before I get into that, below are the basics.

This Spring/Summer PARKSHOW brought together Calgary’s fashion designers, retailers, enthusiasts and larger community. It was a night of fashion set below the Calgary streets in the P2 level of Chinook Centre (side note: smart venue choice). The presentation was a mix of a selection of the shopping centre’s retailers and local designers. It was all set to music, bright runway spotlights and fuelled by cocktails. Lexus cars created the perimeter and pop up shops of the fashions plus a few more local designers threads filled the gaps between the edges of the runway and the luxury automobiles. The design tone was straight and simple, just like the lengthy runway.

The Kind Review

This fashion collaboration event is relatively young, as are the staff and production. They made the most of what they had, trying to create an atmosphere of cool effortlessness. With the apparent youth comes a spirit of accomplishment and frivolity that could not be kept quiet. The staff excitement was is the air.

The set of models were composed of seasoned walkers and newbies, male and female. Their golden make-up and waved hair styling was laid back. Dewy and sunny just like a California beach babe.

Some of the collections appeared to be monochromatic in colour palate, while others were rich and varied in tones. The set of collection’s theme appeared to be anything goes, as long as it’s ultra, ultra casual and more than ready to (comfortably) wear.

The crowd received the show in a kind and spirited manner. A friend, new to fashion shows, shared that he thought it was a great, new way to spend a night and felt good about being exposed to local artists. It was a totally new experience and he was soaking it in. That’s a compliment to the show and totally understandable from his point of view – and nice to hear. In general, the vibe was something along the lines of easy company with a couple cocktails.

If you wanted a light night out of mild entertainment, nothing too “out there” fashion wise, this was your scene.

Now for the Cut Throat Review

The production value and aesthetic of the show and its surroundings were juvenile, sparse and awkward. Cellophane wrap and rented neon light set in frosted fixtures do not a fabulous set make. Moreover, the AV was off time due to human interference on three separate occasions. The overall pacing of the walking and event could only be described as deliberately drawn out. That impacted the total schedule by over a half hour. Though I’m sure the staff enjoyed the accomplishment of completing the event I dare to say it did not deserve the superfluous language and social media self-adoration that spammed my feeds.

The same set of models became tiresome, especially as some can only be described as a clodhopping mess. This particular poor soul needed runway coaching more than I need a better attitude. My concern with the model’s wavy hair and bronzed makeup styling is that it felt an entire year too late. I was hoping for the potential of future trend setting or at the very least, current. It felt so very 2014.

I was confused by the show’s theme. I heard from another attendee who worked for a brand that was showing that night that it was requested of each collection to put together a set that was either just neutrals or one colour with a summer feel. That may be true but it wasn’t universal amongst all of the collections and that made the showings feel drab and unsettled. The casual tone, to me, was a too late, horrible marriage of 2014’s normcore movement with black and white cotton street wear.

When I say the crowd was kind and spirited I really meant likely naïve and talking amongst themselves rather than being consumed by the show. It was more like a gabfest at a friend’s cocktail party where there happened to be models walking around aimlessly. To be absolutely clear, my conversation was certainly more compelling than the collections. I do not know where to place blame. Shall I shun the supposed theme? Blame it on collections that were unimaginative, mostly reflective of trends of the past and way too safe? Or am I the one to blame with my unrealistic expectations?

I would like to stand by my criticisms: How will Calgary dress more stylishly if we don’t actually show them how? Another friend shared to me in one word that captures everything: snoozeville.

I’d be so bold to say that anyone who was in the fashion and style “know” was no doubt disappointed. Taking a step back, I insist that while it wasn’t the most titillating style experience it still was a fun night out to mix and mingle. 

It turns out I’m more cutthroat than kind. I expect fashion shows to dazzle, challenge or inspire. They should not reflect an already too-casual Calgary. I want a show to inspire a new way of putting Calgary’s best, or better, stylish foot forward. I appreciate and whole-heartedly support the aspiration. The execution, however, needs some work.

Enough about me, what did you think of the show?