A fusion of cultures
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Feb 22, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

A fusion of cultures

Ottawa East News

Two Kanata-area designers put the finishing touches on their fall/winter 2013 collection last week in preparation for Ottawa Fashion Week.

The Fusion collection was designed and created by Jana Hanzel and Emilia Torabi, of Jana and Emilia Fashion Design Studio.

The 24-outfit compilation, inspired by aboriginal culture, fashion and natural elements fused with a modern style, debuted on Feb. 9 during fashion week.

“We want people to feel beautiful and happy in the clothes,” said Hanzel. “(We hope) that people will like it.”

Furs, fringes, feathers, beading and small animal bones create intricate patterns on their pieces, with both a modern and classic appeal.

“We have a beautiful culture right here under our noses,” said Hanzel. “This is the culture of the continent.

“We always talk about ethnic inspirations,” she added. “We put all the inspiration in a very respectful way.”

In 2011, the two showcased a collection motivated by African designs, colour and culture. This is their fifth season working together for Ottawa Fashion Week.

“We are anxious for the feedback,” said Torabi. “We are excited ourselves. Those who have seen it so far are excited.”

The two began working on the designs in October, as soon as the previous season ended – before the creation of the Idle No More movement, a grassroots campaign calling for indigenous sovereignty and protection of land and water.

The two said the collection was “not politically motivated.” They discussed the concept and designs with the Wabano Centre, which provides culturally-sensitive medical services, social services and youth programs for aboriginal people living in Ottawa.

“They thought it was a good idea,” said Torabi. “We always do research and reading and investigation, (looking at) the details on the fashion.

“All the aboriginal details we use are to enhance the garment.”

The collection includes dresses, vests, coats and separates. Details on the garments, such as beading and feathers, can also be removed for everyday wear, said Torabi.

An average of 50 hours of work went into each piece in the collection, a total of 24 outfits.

“We enjoy the results,” said Torabi. “When it’s hung there you don’t see much but when you see it on someone … it’s beautiful.”



The two women began working together four years ago after both attended the same fashion event.

“We respected very much each other and started merging our businesses,” Hanzel said. “I love the creative process … it’s fulfilling to share your creative process with somebody.”

Both enjoy working with bright colours and natural fabrics.

Torabi learned the trade at her grandmother’s knee. She was a Russian fashion designer who also studied in Florence, Italy, before settling in Ottawa.

Hanzel said she learned how to design and sew in her native Slovakia.

“We had to make it ourselves,” she said. “You wouldn’t be able to have nice clothes from stores.”

She also studied and taught at Richard Robinson Fashion Academy, based in downtown Ottawa. Hanzel and Torabi now offer classes out of their studio.

For more information, like their Facebook page Jana & Emilia Fashion Design Studio or visit the website at janaemiliafashion.com.

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