Dress Verdi's Aida Contest: Verdi Festival Fashion Project

Antonella Ciancibello-Normey, Edmonton Verdi Festival Co-Chair conceptualized a fashion component of the Festival to recognize Edmonton's dynamic fashion community and devised a very special event – the Dress Verdi's Aida Contest. Entry into the competition was by invitation only and was limited to seven designers. The theme focused on the soprano arias from Verdi's renowned opera Aida and its central character the Nubian princess of the same name captured by Egyptian Captain Radames. As fate (and the opera plot) would have it, he falls hopelessly in love with Aida and saves her from a life of hard labor. Radames decides to include her as a handmaiden to Amneris, an Egyptian princess and his future bride. The opera is set against a backdrop of loyalty, betrayal and forbidden love and is a prime example of a classic love triangle in which these three people - Aida, Amneris and Radames - are forced to make difficult choices that forever alter the course of their personal history.

All seven local designers were tasked to create an artistic interpretation of the costume that would be worthy of the Verdian heroine Aida. The designers were given free reign and invited to let their imagination run wild! Dress Verdi's Aida Contest costumes will be showcased at the Edmonton Verdi Festival's two most distinguished events: Viva Verdi Gala Concert - Winspear Centre - October and Incontro con Verdi, CIFES: "20-Regions of Italy" Extravaganza Weekend - Santa Maria Goretti Community Centre - on Nov 1st to 3rd. The costumes are being displayed in the Winspear foyer on the evening of the Viva Verdi Gala Concert and attendees will be able to cast a secret ballot to select the winners during the intermission. Three prizes will be awarded at the end of the concert: 1st Place - $1,500; 2nd Place - $1,000 and 3rd Place - $500.

Please observe the Dress Verdi's Aida Contest entries carefully and kindly cast your vote on your favorite three in order of preferences on the ballot card that you will receive with your programs as you enter the Winspear.

Points of Interest:

  • Grand opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi. Plot by Mariette Bey. Written in French prose by Camille du Locle. Translated into Italian verse by Antonio Ghislanzoni.
  • Produced in Cairo, Egypt, December 24, 1871; La Scala, Milan under the composer's direction, February 8, 1872; Théâtre Italien, Paris, April 22, 1876; Covent Garden, London, June 22, 1876, Academy of Music, New York, November 26, 1873; Grand Opera, Paris, March 22, 1880, Metropolitan Opéra House, with Caruso, 1904.

Verdi Fashion Designers


Lisa-MarieLisa-Marie was born and raised in the Edmonton area, where she grew up in a traditional Italian household. Lisa realized her passion for fashion at a very young age, and in her large family she found many occasions to perform makeovers. Even as a young girl her opinions on fashion and beauty were respected and obeyed. Having so many special occasions gave Lisa-Marie the opportunity to work with beautiful gowns and dresses, which honed her abilities to suitably adorn herself and others around her. After graduating from high school, she was finally able to pursue her passion full-time. Lisa-Marie attended the Fashion Design and Apparel Production Program at Marvel College. She concluded her school year with a stunning fashion show, which opened the doors for future exposure as a fashion designer through fashion shows, newspaper articles and TV spots.

She is now starting her own label – Lisa-Marie Couture – and hopes to open a boutique of her own in the near future. Currently, Lisa-Marie's line focuses primarily on well-structured, form-fitting dresses, gowns, and jackets. She also designs classic business wear such as high-waisted wool skirts and blouses, as well as formal wear including grad, bridal, and cocktail dresses. Lisa-Marie's style is classic and feminine yet fresh with the funky details she adds. She strongly promotes one-of-a-kind designs by getting to know her clients' personalities and body types, then uses her abilities to create specific garments to fulfill each client's needs.


Kelsey McIntyre

Kelsey McIntyreKelsey McIntyre's passion for clothing and design began at a very young age, when she started out creating dresses for her Barbie's under the tutelage of her mother. Her designs eventually graduated to dresses and other finery for herself and her friends. After graduating at the top of her class from MC College in 2002, Kelsey apprenticed with Kathleen Todoruk of Todoruk Designs. There, she learned to appreciate the finer details that go into a garment - the details that take a garment from being just a garment to becoming a piece of art. During the next year and a half, while apprenticing during the day, Kelsey designed her own pieces by night and built up her own style. Slowly but surely she attracted a longer list of clientele until she was ready to venture out on her own. Initially Kelsey focused on wedding dresses, working with brides to create the gown of their dreams. Eventually, demand grew for outfits that went beyond the wedding day to the everyday. Thus, Serendipity was born. The Serendipity line is, indeed, serendipitous. Kelsey's love of all things vintage and girly is reflected perfectly in her collection of beautiful dresses, feminine skirts, chic tops and perfectly-fitted pants. The Serendipity girl loves to picnic on a warm summer day, and curl up with a good book and coffee when the snow begins to fall. She is unashamedly girly, and captures a sense of romance and magic in her intricately detailed garments. In addition to graduating top of her class, Kelsey also won WCFW Emerging Designer, 2006 and first place in the "Let Your Light Shine" competition in Kingsway Mall, 2009. Her work has appeared on the runway during Ottawa Fashion Week, PARKshow (Calgary), Western Canada Fashion Week (Edmonton), and at Montreal's TransCanada Fashion Show. She has also been a guest lecturer at Rutherford House (University of Alberta) for their Vintage Bridal tea. You can find Serendipity in the following locations: Bamboo Ballroom: Edmonton; Eleven:Eleven, Calgary; and Victoire: Ottawa.


Rebecka Pichoch

Rebecka PichochRebecka Pichoch came from a very modest background. She was born to create and is very talented in many areas of the beauty industry! By the time she was sixteen, Pichoch had decided to devote herself entirely to fashion and Art. She took a variety of courses classes and has several degrees that developed her experience. This gave her the opportunity to sharpen her creative details, technical skills and tailoring and workmanship, for which she has become well-known. She progressed through Marvel Collage becoming top in her class and succeeding in the Fashion and Apparel, Marvels Make Up and Marvels Hair Design programs. The variety of her apprenticeships and experience gave her the opportunity to master many different techniques. From tailoring garments for a woman, Pichoch made the transition to working alongside Lisa-Marie Zoernack and, at the age of 21, she moved to Edmonton to work on making her dreams a reality. Rebecka completed her degree in fashion design at the Marvel College, where she had originally just hoped to be a simple designer. Her collections, the culmination of her craftsmanship, received keen media attention and firmly established her as a promising young fashion designer and platform Artist.

Rebecka then set about making a name for herself. Her shows were remarkably theatrical and her viciously sharp style brought her much attention and acclaim in both the fashion and hair industry. She also crafted and built a reputation. By virtue of a rebellious "bad girl" image and frequent artistic transformations, Pichoch's designs evolved. Her Fashion label "My Secret" features on trend and avant garde looks created for runway shows and photo shoot. Elements of color, texture, prints, lines and fit are all displayed in her work. She has won many awards in the prestigious ABA hair competition where she displayed her Garments and cutting talent in 2011, 2012 and 2013. In 2010, she was employed by Salon on 6th and promptly succeeded with her fashion-forward attitude. She continues to develop her image not only as a fashion designer but also as a hairstylist as well.


Uta Pietsch

Uta PietschUta Pietsch was born and raised in Alberta and, at the age of twelve, started hand-sewing out of sheer desperation. The reason for desperately embarking upon the fine art of sewing was to avoid any further sibling hand-me-downs. At fourteen, while visiting her grandmother, an entirely new world was opened up to her. Omi, her grandmother, carefully instructed Uta on how to use a sewing machine. Her grandmother quickly learned that Uta understood the delicate art of the application of design and aesthetics. It was for that reason that she set Uta free in a sea of endless fabrics.

After four years of home sewing and experimentation, Uta attended the University of Alberta to learn the business, art and practice of design in a Bachelor of science program. She then began her own custom sewing business, Dress U Up Fashions, which later became Infinity Leather when the niche became popular. Thirty years later, Uta has sewn every fabric known and has found it most enjoyable and incredibly rewarding. Some of her special strengths lie in custom work for theatre, private individuals, bikers, leather enthusiasts and home decorators.

While retired from the sewing life, she still undertakes projects for herself and close friends. At present, she is working on starting an online business that will focus on the design, construction, completion and, most importantly, the marketing of quilt-like blankets made from her own massive stash of interesting fabrics. Uta was passionately captivated by fabrics at a very early age, and continues to enjoy experimenting and reinventing the use of her precious and much adored fabrics.

Melany Rowe

Melany RoweThere is no doubt that when you peer into the looking glass at the Glamorous Wedding and Formal Designer gowns created by Melany Rowe, you are going to feel that you are a part of a Hollywood red carpet event. She has come into the industry with a bang with designs that are polished, pretty and, above all, glamorous. Intricate, hand-sewn beading, detailed floral techniques and feathers adorn her bridal and evening gowns and accessories. Inspirations such as Alexander McQueen added with a love for all things fancy, glamorous and theatrical is what Melany Rowe is all about!

Kathleen Todoruk

Kathleen TodorukSince graduating from the University of Alberta with a BSc degree in Home Economics, Kathleen Todoruk realized the significance of understanding her market whether it be private clients or the public. She spent twelve years at the Sig Plach Couture House. She came to understand that couture provides a wonderful complement to ready-to-wear in an atmosphere where personalized attention, quality textiles and beautiful fit are paramount. After seven years of ready-to-wear design, the opportunity was presented to take the lead of her mentor's business at Sig Plach.

The resulting launch of the private label Todoruk Couture has been the result of a twenty-year passion in design. The new atelier in the Mercer Warehouse is an intimate setting where clients are welcomed to review original sketches and choose among hundreds of imported textiles from around Europe. This year, she is celebrating the first year of the new atelier. In October, she launched her Essential Couture Collection Fall 2013, which will be available in the atelier, which she believes is the perfect marriage of ready-to-wear and couture.


Joanna Wala

Joanna WalaJoanna Wala has been designing ever since she can remember. Her first "collections" consisted of elaborate dress creations for her Barbie collection. Her pursuits in design took her to the University of Alberta where she studied Textiles, Clothing and Culture. She them moved onto Vancouver where she graduated with an award in Fashion Design and Technology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. After honing her skills and gaining business expertise from the industry Joanna Wala launched her Sofiss Apparel label at Toronto Fashion week in 2004. A first for an Edmonton based designer. Known for her extensive use of luxurious Italian fabrics, Joanna's collections impart a feminine spirit and an underlying hint of playfulness. In 2012, Joanna rebranded to her namesake and continuous to give today's woman something to embrace other than a T-shirts and jeans. Joanna Wala's interpretation of the Aida gown is a true reflection of Joanna's philosophy on design: always creating a garment that empowers the woman, flatters her figure and gives that little extra boost of confidence.

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The National Congress of Italian-Canadians, Edmonton District (NCIC)
and The Celebrating Italian Families of Edmonton Society (CIFES)