Edmonton isn’t always considered a “fashionable” city, but starting today an army of designers, models and stylists will storm the runway to prove how fashion-forward Edmontonians really are.

Edmonton Fashion Week kicks off its ninth season today at the TransAlta Arts Barns in Old Strathcona. The event runs until Sept. 24 and will feature more than 50 designers, 400 models and 50 hair and makeup companies showcasing everything from ready-to-wear to couture to bridal.

“It’s gotten phenomenally large,” said Sandra Sing Fernandes, the event’s organizer.

Most of the designers are emerging local talents, but a few established designers will also show their collections. Michael Kaye, originally from Edmonton but now based in New York, will show his couture collection and conduct a designer symposium. Vancouver’s Jason Matlo will show two collections.

Fernandes said EFW is a “fashion incubator” for rising designers because the event charges designers only $200 per show — compared to thousands of dollars in New York or Toronto — and designers can sell their items at a sample sale, which Fernandes said is “unheard of” at other fashion weeks.

“Because we are in the middle of nowhere, we end up being groundbreaking out of necessity,” said Fernandes.

She said some local names to watch are Kelsey McIntyre, Derek Jagodzinsky and Lani van Rooyen.

“EFW is creating an industry … not just supporting it,” said Fernandes.

EFW also features contests for designers, live performances, and fantasy hair and makeup competitions.

Tickets can be purchased at the TransAlta Arts Barns box office.