New designers from Edmonton and around the world bring NOISE to the runway

Nulla, the Edmonton-based fashion collective, is hosting its second in-person showcase, NOISE 22, May 19-21 at CO*LAB.

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In Latin, nulla means zero or nothing. It was from such a place that Ben Falconer and Sheila Ferreira founded Nulla Art & Fashion Collective, a creative arm of the Patti Falconer Agency that supports emerging designers.

Formally launched in October 2021, the Edmonton-based collective is hosting its second in-person showcase, NOISE 22, May 19-21 at CO*LAB – Community (Arts) Laboratory, 9641 102A Ave.

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“The second round feels like we’re beginning to make an imprint and people are beginning to look at what we’re doing with a little bit more interest,” says Ben Falconer, director of the Patti Falconer Agency which his mother opened in 1968.

Five years ago, Falconer took over his late mother’s legacy managing talent in Alberta and around the world. In March 2021, the company expanded into publishing a quarterly model-centric magazine known as ‘BlkSwn’ that features more art-driven photography. According to Falconer, Nulla is an extension project — providing a platform to make the designer and modelling world more accessible.

The three-day event will feature designers mainly from Edmonton and Calgary but also across Canadian and international labels. Collections will vary from children’s clothing and bridalwear to consigned vintage streetwear and haute couture.

“It’s a lot more independent designer driven, we had five local designers last time, and this time we have approximately 15 or 16,” says Falconer.

Designers sew their creations, making them from scratch and one of Nulla’s main mandates is reusable wear.

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“We aren’t interested at all in fast fashion. We’re interested in sustainability and recyclability,” says Falconer.

Zachary Ward, a local designer presenting his collection this weekend, has been learning about clothing production and design since his high school days at Harry Ainlay, including sustainability in fashion. He’s been working with established Edmonton designer Kathleen Todoruk, owner and creative director of Todoruk Designs.

“She has helped me have an aesthetic appreciation for couture and this idea of fashion that’s a little bit more sustainably made, locally made and clothing that’s high quality and tailored to the user,” says Ward.

Amber Chaba is another young designer hoping the showcase will help establish her label As Scene in Death with a stronger brand presence in the fashion community.

“The director of Nulla has been really helpful. She’s been really informative and inspiring to me and she set me up with some opportunities,” says Chaba about Ferreira who has been in the fashion world for more than 20 years.

Chaba is designing and making clothes for local rapper Cab’Ral for their tour planned later this year. They’ll also be one of the musical performers at NOISE.

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Designers often cover costs for their first collections and a lack of funding is a common stumbling block for new artists.

Along with providing a platform for exposure, Nulla’s mission is to empower designers to find their place in the industry authentically.

“We’re very pro-designer and we’re keeping the cost extremely low for them for them to grow,” says Falconer about what sets Nulla apart from other fashion houses. “We’re here to help educate or to help people figure out a way to get their ideas created and brought to the stage.”

As an added effort, Nulla has partnered with Frame Productions, an Edmonton-based production company, to live stream this weekend’s event.

“We’re trying to get it out to the digital world as much as possible just to show how high the quality is actually of some of these designers in Alberta and in Canada — that is our long-term goal,” says Falconer. “There’ll be interviews with designers, interviews with models, and then we’ll have a couple of musicians that are performing.”

Falconer sees including live music as a throwback to the true origins of fashion. Kesara, an Edmonton singer-songwriter who performed at Nulla’s fall show, will return with hip-hop and reggae artist Evrlove, joining Cab’Ral on this weekend’s bill.

“In my opinion, fashion starts at the street. I’ve always believed my whole life that fashion is innovated by the street designers and streetwear,” he says.

Falconer himself will be debuting his own brand ‘BlkSwan’ which is a nod to the post-punk movement of bands like Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Smiths, which reflects Falconer’s years as a teen.

“In my mind, I am a child of the ’80s so I just remember a lot of those kinds of sort of Victorian-style dresses with Doc Martens and black hair and I guess the early movement of goth,” says Falconer when he describes the pieces he’s created.

Read more about a few of the stand-out local designers online.

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PREVIEW

NOISE 22 presented by Nulla

When: Thursday-Saturday, shows at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Where: CO*LAB, 9641 102A Ave.

Tickets: $26.50 online at Pattifalconer.com

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