Richard Robinson Academy of Fashion Design presents original student creations – Apartment613

Lights, camera, strut your stuff! This Friday, May 13, Richard Robinson Fashion Design Academy presents La Grande Première—Ottawa’s version of Milan Fashion Week, showcasing local designers and talented students from around the region. We spoke with the academy’s new owner, Renee Berezowski, about this exciting event and the Ottawa fashion scene.

“La Grande Première is an annual fashion show that highlights the original creations of our students. We invite a panel of judges to choose the “best of” in a variety of design categories. At the end of the show, we reward the respective winners! It’s very exciting!” said Berezowski.

Richard Robinson Academy is Canada’s only haute couture fashion design academy, founded by Robinson over 50 years ago. The famous couturier and fashion designer will be one of the judges this year. He will be joined by Marilou Molesan Ottawa blogger; Joudel Janoskainfluencer and content creator; Frank Sukhoofashion designer and owner of Sukhoo Sukhoo; MJ Naim Brown, a socialite; Angie Sakla-Seymour, owner of AMTI Management; Pam Dillon, editor of Luxe Magazine, and JP Bexa Canadian artist.

Berezowski purchased the Academy from the Robinsons in May 2020, and while persevering through the challenges of the pandemic, she is full of energy and optimism: “I look forward to the future of the school! We are focused on high fashion. This means we pride ourselves on quality finishes and hand-stitched techniques. Many of our graduates have gone on to work for big companies such as Coach and Le Chateau, and many of them have launched their own successful fashion brands! We can’t wait to see our next big designer breakthrough in the fashion world!

Renee Berezowski. Photo: finnsquare.com.

We took the opportunity to ask a few more questions to Berezowski:

Apt613: How has the pandemic affected your work and the ability to present this event?

RB: We haven’t presented a Grand Premiere since 2019. As you can imagine, we are excited to present our live event this year! Our students have worked through really tough schedules. With the confinements and the distancing, I had to make a lot of adjustments to the programming. We were able to switch to a hybrid system where some courses were delivered online and others in person. The Academy teams have become experts in crisis management! We managed to keep everyone safe and there was no major COVID outbreak. Not only has the pandemic affected our daily lives, but the protests and disruptions in the city center have taken a toll on the mental health of students, especially after two such long years.

Apt613: What would you like to see on the fashion scene in Ottawa in the future?

RB: The designer fashion scene in Ottawa is strong. We have some serious talent in this town. Ottawa isn’t usually known as a fashion capital, but we think we can take it there! Ottawa is a growing city with a lot of diversity. There are plenty of opportunities here! Through fashion shows and events we can raise awareness of the city and hopefully people will go out and find that Ottawa is stylish too!

Who can we expect to see on the podium this year?

RB: Get ready for some truly amazing new and innovative designs! First, we invited some of our alumni from 2021 to present, as they were never able to do a live fashion show due to the pandemic. We are delighted to see them present their creations on the catwalk. Our headliners and show openers this year are Meagan and Morgan, “The FINN Twins”, our 2018 alumni! They are breaking into the fashion scene in LA and New York with their home base in Ottawa. Last but not least, we have 35 students from our first and second year programs ready to present their original creations on the catwalk. All of these designers are going to be the new upcoming Canadian designers that everyone will want to watch!


Tickets for the Grand Premiere, held at the Infinity Convention Centre, can be purchased here. This is a gala-style event, with a formal dress code.

Joseph E. Golightly