Friday, April 26, 2013

Project Runway Season 11 - Episode 9

 Check out recaps of other episodes by clicking the the Project Runway tab.

This week it's the Lord and Taylor challenge - a great opportunity to gain experience designing for a high end brand.  Tim Gunn introduces LT's Senior VP and Fashion Director, Suzanne Timmins, who shares, "Our customer loves fashion and need on-trend pieces to compliment her wardrobe and style."

For this challenge the designers are to create ready-to-wear looks for Spring 2013.  They can be dresses, separates or a combination. The iconic Lord and Taylor rose - a symbol of the store since 1943 - is also to be a part of their inspiration.  It can be interpreted creatively in any way, the designers are to use their imagination. One final note, "Stay true to your individual design aesthetic, but remember we want the garments to retail for under $250 for each item." The winning look will be reproduced and sold in stores and online starting March 21st. It will also be displayed in Lord and Taylor's iconic 5th Avenue store window.

Everyone will create one look, but work in new teams set by the judges - 2 teams of 2 (Michelle/Daniel and Stanley/Patricia) and one team of 3 (Samantha/Layana/Richard - not happy). Layana and Richard together was obviously a TV ratings thing as they are like oil and water with a total lack of respect for each other. Looks did not have to be cohesive. The team budget worked out to $75 per designer. There was 30 minutes to caucus and sketch, a quick shop at Moods and one day to complete the challenge.  Zac Posen was missing this week, so his chair was filed by fashion designer Rachel Roy.  Guest judge was Bonnie Brooks - President/CEO for The Bay.

Michelle (winner) and Daniel - The winner was obvious from about half way through the design process. I love Michelle. She grows each and every week. Her unique point of view and unbounded creativity sets her apart, but at the same time she listens and takes all input to heart. This team's initial designs were rock and roll, but tailored and sophisticated. The final looks ended up going a different direction. During consultation, Tim encouraged Michelle to lose the heavy vest. It was hard for her to let go of this element, but in the end she bowed to his wisdom and won the challenge. I was surprised to learn the dress was in leather and silk. She interpreted the LT rose in terms of the "..the Chartreuse you see in the spring when the buds are just opening and the idea of the rose in the layers." Comments included - effortless, modern with an attitude, fresh and joyous, I would be first in line to buy it, smart and easy, great looking and will fit many shapes and sizes, glad you didn't interpret the rose too literally, young and modern and the LT customer would love to own this.

Michelle (winner) - Daniel
Not much for me to say about Daniel. I like him as a person and think he does great work with excellent construction, but he is not new and innovate and for me, that's what this show should be about. I am glad he changed from a jacket and shorts to a dress. Comments include - a stand out when you walk in the room, colour is fantastic, happy to see you embrace a bold colour with a conservative shape, needs a little more risk, silhouette has been around many years, nothing new, stop thinking so much and start feeling it (best advice).

Stanley and Patricia - This was a very tough partnership at the start as Stanley wanted control and Patricia works intuitively - so they found it a difficult process. That said, I think both looks were very sell-able (I would shorten Stanley's a bit) and I liked the fact they worked together in terms of colour. In the end Stanley was very happy and admitted he had learned a lot about draping from Patricia. Patricia did have to change directions when Tim let her know her original design was too expensive to produce - a good lesson for her which pushed her to create something more ready-to-wear. The judges found Stanley's dress a bit simple (that said simple often sells), but did love the flowing top Patricia put on the runway.

Stanley - Patricia
Samantha, Layana and Richard - What were they thinking other than reality TV drama?  Richard and Layana were not even speaking at this point. Poor Samantha to be thrown into this mix.  Layana received a mix of positive and negative. Overall they like the silhouette and leather detail but not the print. Comments include - love the leather details but the print is a little old lady, love the tough chicness of the leather but perhaps a bit too tough, love the line and cut, very wearable, back is stronger in design than the front, hot dress with a horrible print, and could have been a winner but went south because of the print. Richard also received mixed reviews.  Overall it's very wearable, but something he has put down runway before. Comments include - I would buy it, it's an easy no-brainer dress, I wasn't impressed, I've seen you do this before and do it more successfully, very beachy, a little too dressed up for day but not enough for night, a little confused and push yourself on styling.

Layana - Richard - Samantha
Samantha - I like this designer a lot so was surprised at how much I disliked this dress.  From the fabric to the silhouette to the cutout in back, it just didn't work for me. A cut out in this type of fabric in particular is not a great idea and the colour scheme was too dull for spring. Comments were again mixed - it looks like a wilted rose, too junior, you did something youthful and I appreciate the design elements, an adorable peplum shape that you could wear as a tunic if you're older, it is attempt to show us you can take risks but sadly for this challenge your client might not need this, I didn't hate it (how depressing is this comment?), messy and unsophisticated and a fun dress you might wear on the weekend. In the end she was sent home and as much as I hate to see her go, I fully agree.

To view larger images, check out Rate The Runway.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Coetzee - A Collection to Raise Awareness of Gender Violence

I am so proud of Gert Johan Coetzee.  It was such a privilege to have him stay with me last season when he came to Vancouver to show at Vancouver Fashion Week. As I spent time with him, it quickly became obvious how seriously this talented fashion designer takes his fame.  There is always a side of him looking to make a difference in the world. 

One example was when he chose Thando Hopa - a female lawyer and albino - to be the face of his collection. Albinos tends to face a lot of discrimination in South Africa, so it was a strong statement that beauty is found in our uniqueness.The fact she was also an highly educated, strong woman was the icing on the cake.What a great role model to hold up for young girls. 

I was intrigued and a little confused to note that from April 11-15 South African Fashion Week showcased Spring/Summer '13 collections. Other fashion weeks usually show Fall/Winter lines now. This is a change I have heard promoted quite a bit lately, as fashion weeks are no longer seen by just buyers and media. Now that consumers are watching, they want quick access to what they see on the runway - not a 6 month wait. I would be interested in knowing more about the story on how this event made the change - or if they have always shown in this format.

While I haven't had a chance yet to talk personally with Coetzee, I was able to learn from another interview posted on the web that the spiky designs in his latest collection were created to raise awareness for the victims of gender violence and child abuse. They were inspired by the delicate, graceful sea urchin - a creature that would be defenseless except for his spikes. Coetzee shared, "There has been so much violence against women in the news this year...I starting thinking - imagine clothes that could become an armour to protect the defenseless." WOW!  

Coetzee loves pushing the envelope. This season he collaborated with Vaal University of Technology to create his impossible geometric shapes using cutting edge 3-D printing technology, and he is excited about the results. "I have gone for a wearable collection that recalls the sixties and seventies in terms of design, but enhanced with some really fantastical elements."  While some of these designs can move right into the boutiques, several of the more conceptual designs will be modified slightly for the ready-to-wear market.

Coetzee has also paired up with SHOUT SA (whose message is to stand up and not be silent any longer) and PROJECT DIGNITY (a KwaZulu Natal-based initiative) to investigate ways to raise money including donating a percentage of sales on certain GJC garments.  One current focus is to find a way to provide washable sanitary protection for rural girls. I had heard before many of these young girls end up missing school because they have nothing effective to wear during their periods.

With fame comes power to effect change in the world and Gert Johan Coetzee is one designer who does his best to honour this privilege.  To learn more about his designs, his charity work or to contact the designer, check out his website at or his facebook page at  Want to watch his SA Fashion Week show?  Check out the Youtube video below.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Project Runway Season 11 - Episode 8

Check out recaps of other episodes by clicking the the Project Runway tab.

This week the season's team challenge theme took a new twist.  The judges felt they had a good feel for who the designers were and their skills sets, so chose the teams based on who they would like to see work together.  The first team - Shades of Grey - included Patricia for her unusual techniques, Daniel for his construction strengths, Michelle for her cool vibe and Stanley who they wanted to see in a context where he was going to have to stay strong among all these creative forces.

The second team - Slick and Hip - paired Richard's talent but questionable taste with Layana's young vibe, Samantha's current fashion element and the Amanda who they didn't really give a positive spin on (a wallflower - up and down). All designers had happy and worried moments, but to me it was clear from the start that the first team had the stronger designers over all.  In fact in a spoiler alert nod to the future - it can be noted that all the season finalists came from this first team. Sort of says it all doesn't it?

Heidi Klum enigmatically shares that it's time to live it up a bit and have some fun. Then it's off to meet Tim Gunn and their new client. In an arena they are treated to a quick show by Australia's Thunder From Down Under - voted the best male revue on the Las Vegas strip. These very buff men, who have an obvious effect on all the designers, are their new clients.

The challenge this week is to create 3 full, cohesive looks for the dancers' opening act that are "...suave, sophisticated and masculine..." while also being flexible, sturdy and tear-away. The outfits had to both look great and come off easily. The teams were also admonished by Tim to not feminize these guys. Samantha claims it will be like dressing action figures; Richard labels them too hot to handle for 10 a.m and like dressing Thor, the Incredible Hulk and the Avengers; and Daniel notes, "No wonder Heidi wanted to be here - naughty girl!" The designers are given 30 minutes to consult, a budget of $750 per team and 1 day to complete.  Guest judge this week is actress, singer/songwriter Emmy Rossum.

The directive for something dressier, the need for the garments to be flexible, sturdy and tear-away, as well as the designers serious lack of experience doing menswear all added to the mess that ensued. No one was declared a winner, only a losing team was chosen with one going home.  Comments included - you didn't think enough outside the box, we should wrap up this show early and send you all home, I couldn't wait until they took their clothes off, this was the moment to be tongue in cheek, why not be creative, and the list goes on.

Team Shades of Grey (Stanley, Patricia, Michelle and Daniel) - Top team by default.
Michelle is one of my favourites this season and I loved her initial inspiration - an edgy approach to a business suit, delivery uniform and bike messenger. Something gritty and dirty. Unfortunately she didn't design all 3 looks. While these garments were cleaner over all, the only one the judges, the dancers and I liked was Michelle's take on the bike messenger. She put a lot of thought into what they could use on stage to be entertaining including a zipper and a scarf on the vest that could be handed out to a lucky lady. The only issue was the vest needed to be 2-3 inches longer. The other 2 were pretty expected.  Funniest part of the dancers showing these off is that Stanley noted he had just made tear away clothes for a commercial recently and the tear-away ending was a total disaster.

Michelle - Stanley - Patricia/Daniel

Team Slick and Hip (Richard, Layana, Amanda and Samantha) - losing team
There were serious worries on this team that Richard might try and turn them into drag queens. While there was some truth in their reasoning, the designers really should have taken elements of what he was suggesting to liven the looks up. It was a frustrating experience for him to have every idea he put forth turned down and see the final looks morph into a blah set of ill-fitting garments. The only one of the 3 looks that came close to fitting right was the one on the right below, but I found the super slim vest that only came a few tiny inches across the front on both sides looked as if was 2 sizes too small and gave the dancer nothing to work with onstage. The saving grace for this team was that the the tear-away ending worked perfectly. Nina had an uncharacteristic giggle fit while reviewing their collection, especially when one of the dancers pants started to fall off. Although it was a toss-up, in the end Richard and Amanda's look was chosen as the worst with Amanda sent home.

Amanda/Richard - Amanda/Layana/Richard - Richard/Samantha

To see larger versions of any of these looks, go to Rate the Runway.

Friday, April 19, 2013

FORM + FASHION featuring Xsenia & Olya

Event photography courtesy of Chris Ma.

In March I received an invitation to FORM + FASHION featuring designers Xsenia & Olya. My quick response was an eager YES. These emerging artists have been creating a buzz in the industry for the last few years and I was excited to see what they were bringing to the table for fall in particular. A few days after the event there was also an opportunity for me to sit with the brand's business manager, Anastasia Seleznev, who works closely with the team from initial concept to final collection. Most of that interview will be the foundation for a future article, but it did open a window for me on the designers' unusual path to creating the collections I saw that evening.

Xsenia Runa and Olya Shishkina met while studying fashion design at Central St. Martins in London. Their collaboration since graduation has resulted in a unique line of garments created using cutting edge technology that is also easy to wear. Let's face it, today's woman wants to look amazing, yet be comfortable while doing it. In talking with Seleznev, what was most interesting was the hands-on process used to inspire the digital prints. Both collections were inspired by movement, but for Spring/Summer '13 it related to the physical world. They filled a bathtub with water, used their hands to generate small waves and photographed the fluid surface patterns created . For Fall/Winter '13 the focus was more conceptual - the movement of time.  Images of clocks were layered into a unique collage which was then scanned into the computer. Images were digitally manipulated to hone a final concept and then used to create each season's original prints - a trademark of the brand that has propelled them into the public eye.
Anastasia - Xsenia - Olya
FORM + FASHION was held in the AutoForm luxury car dealership on Clark. Valet parking and a spacious venue set the tone for the evening. A runway lined with white chairs surrounded by lots of standing room offered a greeting as you entered. To the right was a small boutique space where we could shop after the show. Next came an area to relax and mingle offering a bar, cocktail-style standing tables to chat at and a long buffet laden with cheese, fruit and other nibbles. Last but not least was a large showroom where several high-end cars tempted us - "Take me home!" What I really loved at this event was seeing so many new faces in the crowd. All around me were men and women I did not know dressed to the nines enjoying a drink, sampling the buffet, engaged in lively conversation and swaying to great music spun by DJ Adoriana


The evening's show opened with a warm welcome by emcee Devon Brooks and then it was on to the main event. Xsenia & Olya offered us 2-shows-in-one. First was a look at their current collection available in stores now. Then came a peak into what we could expect for fall. It's hard to sit through a runway show knowing it will be 6 months before you can add that favourite piece to your closet. This format lets you satisfy your craving for something new with the current season as well as whet your appetite for pieces you will get to add in the future with a preview of the next season.

Spring/Summer '13 was a warm, inviting cure for the cold and rainy weather outside. The conceptual prints were offered in a range of colours - pink, yellow, red/orange, turquoise, cobalt blue, purple, etc. I am a huge fan of turquoise and asymmetry, so it's no surprise the piece I most wanted to own was one featuring both of these elements - the first image on the left below. While this is a hip super short dress for the young and lean, it also would be great paired with a slim complimentary skirt for those of us who would like a longer silhouette or with white, calf-length leggings for wandering the beach at a resort. What all looks had in common was an eye-catching aesthetic combined with a relaxed, comfortable fit.

Fall/Winter has always been my favourites season, so I really looked forward to this segment and ended up wanting to own several pieces. The long dress on the left below was a great mix of classy and elegant that could be worn at a wide variety of events. I also liked the look of the dusty blue dress (or top and skirt) in the centre below, but would personally need to pair it with something to add a little length.Then the grey toned print dress next to get the idea. The palette for Fall/Winter '13 was more subdued, but there was still a distinct vibrancy - due partly to the hues chosen and partly to the intriguing digital prints. Both collections featured natural fabrics with one exception - a soft pastel used in silhouettes featuring fabric fringe. Fringe was laser cut to create a light, flirty detail that moved freely - so a quality synthetic was needed for the process. Two of examples are shown below - one with a square fringe that covers the entire dress and another where it is used in the fringe skirt.

Special thanks go to everyone who contributed to make this evening possible:  Autoform for the venue; Smashbox Canada for make-up; Pink Lime Salon for hair; DJ Adoriana for the music; Austrian enamel jewelry brand Frey Wille Canada for the accessories seen on the runway - sold through their exclusive boutique at 511 Howe Street; and photographer Cliff Ma for the images.

Xsenia & Olya's spring collection will be available in Vancouver at Vetrina (525 W. Georgia). If you missed this event, the designer's will next be showing their collection at Ladies Who Lunch on June 8th. Tickets are available through Eventbrite.  For more information or to contact the designers, please visit their website at

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Vegetarian Nut Burgers

Stock image
This recipe is old-old-old. I think I accumulated this one pre-children and my oldest is now 26.  For those familiar with Vancouver, my husband and I decided to try a restaurant that used to be at Granville Island called Isadora's.  I loved this eaterie and became a huge fan of their nut burger in particular. Pre-marriage I had been a vegetarian and although I set this aside to allow my family to the freedom of choice, I still was very drawn to interesting vegetarian offerings.

One visit I bravely asked the waitress if the chef would share his recipe knowing the answer would, of course, be no. Imagine my surprise when she came with this small, hand written slip of paper with just a scribbled list of ingredients. The other surprise was the quantities. This was for a busy restaurant, so it started with 24 cups of walnuts and moved through 30 eggs.  I did manage to downsize it to a level that was family worthy and it's been a hit.  For some reason I forgot about this one until the other day. It really is a quick and easy meal if you have a food processor and even my fussiest eater tolerated it.  What more can you ask. The only real change was I remember someone commenting that it had way too much oil in it so have cut it in half.

There are few hints before you proceed:

- The walnuts need to be fresh. If you've ever left walnuts in the cupboard for a while and then eaten one, the experience is EWWWW!  Walnuts get a very strong after taste when they are old and stale. It doesn't matter how many ingredients you add, it will come through.

- It is best to have a food processor.  I run the walnuts through  the grater blade and they come out just right.

-  A hamburger press is another essential. They aren't expensive and are priceless when working with nut burgers. I have an ancient tupperware system.  I don't use the storage pieces, just the press and the ring that creates the shape. Then I freeze the extras in a freezer bag with 2 layers of wax paper between them.

- Use a cheese with flavour! Whether you want a sharp cheddar or aged Gruyere is up to you.

- This makes approximately 12 burgers, so unless you're feeding a family, I would cut the recipe in half. Also, these are thick. You might want to experiment with 1/3 cup size if you have younger kids in particular. Remember, if you are using less each burger this will make more individual patties.  For your convenience I have put 1/2 recipe amounts in parenthesis!!!

Nut Burgers

4 C (2 C)                Walnuts - run through food processor using the grater blade
3-1/3 C (1-3/4 C)     Dry Bread Crumbs
2/3 C  (1/3 C)          Grated Carrots
1/2 C (1/4 C)           Grated Cheese
3 T  (1-1/2 T)          Tamari or Soy Sauce
6 T  (3 T)               Sunflower Seeds
6 (3)                       Eggs, Beaten
2 (1)                      Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 C (1/4 C)          Vegetable Oil
Optional - sliced cheese to melt on burger

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Shape into patties using a hamburger press and 1/2 cup of mix (1/3 C for thinner patties). Saute on low heat until lightly brown in a non-stick skillet. If you want to add sliced cheese, put on top the last few minutes of browning. Serve on a whole wheat bun with tomato, lettuce, mayo and dijon mustard. Freeze the extras in a large freezer bag with 2 layers of wax paper between each patty.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. I feel like Bon Appetit Magazine being able to offer a recipe written in the chef's own hand.

Friday, April 12, 2013

University of the Fraser Valley - Samantha Merritt

University of the Fraser Valley's Samantha Merritt is never one to back down from a challenge. During her last 3 months in the Fashion Design program she not only completed her graduation portfolio and 3 runway looks, she was also helping to design a tartan for the City of Abbotsford - all while writing a 10 page essay on nursing statistics. Even she was surprised when it was all finished and notes that the support she received from the school was key.  "With the help of my amazing and very knowledgeable professors, I made it through to the end."

Merritt has always been passionate, spontaneous and hardworking in her approach to life. In high school she immersed herself in art classes and enjoyed playing on soccer and basketball teams. It was a tragic knee injury during a play-off game one season that opened the door to a future in fashion. "Not being able to participate in P.E. that term, I was sent to the only available class with open seats - Textiles, aka Home Sewing 101! I wasn't thrilled and had no clue how to sew, but quickly came to realize it was a way I could funnel my artistic abilities into something useful in life. Making fashion became my new passion."

After looking into the several schools, UFV proved the perfect choice. Not only was it an
excellent program with diverse electives, Merritt could live at home to keep costs down. Doing what she loved made the hard work enjoyable and a trip to overseas fueled her creative process. "The inspiration for my grad collection came from King Louis XIV's Palace of Versailles. I visited France in the summer leading up to my collection and knew instantly what I wanted to base it on after I strolled through the Hall of Mirrors." 

Merritt was mesmerized by the all textures and decadent brocades as well as the room's lavish gold glow. The hall exuded LUXURY!  When her final collection - Brazen - hit the runway, the audience was treated to options for the professional woman that would move fluidly from day to evening. Take off that coat and underneath is just the right outfit to wear out for a night on the town. Her rich palette included silver, gold, radiant red, maroon, peacock blue and chocolate. Garments were fashioned from lush fabrics such as Brocade, DamaskDevoré and Velvet. The final looks blended hints of the past with modern aesthetics. Merritt's vision and talent were acknowledged at the end of the show when she received the award for the Most Creative Collection.

During her final year, Merritt began to work with Christine Wiebe from Volunteer Abbotsford on a project to design a city tartan using a software program specific to UFV's Weaving Fashion Fabrics course. The colours chosen represented flourishing local industries - black for the rails, roads and coal; white for dairy; yellow for corn; red for berries; blue for aviation; and green for both the UFV and the forest industry. The designer first created 25 different colour combinations and tartan lay-outs for the council to vote on. After a colour scheme and basic pattern were decided, she then created a new round of potential winners. The final tartan is officially registered in Scotland and can be viewed at the Scottish Register of Tartans.

What does the future hold for this talented designer? A Masters in Fashion Design is first on the list, followed by the desire to one day launch her own brand. And she hopes in the midst of these plans there will be time for more traveling. Merritt shares, "Fashion is my life. I live it, breathe it and practice it. Without fashion.................okay, let's be real. Fashion will always be around and it will always be in my life."

For more information on UFV's fashion design program go to For tickets and information about attending their upcoming April 25th grad show 'absolute style 2013' - call 604-557-4073 or email This event was sold out last year, so I encourage you to order your tickets early.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Art Institute of Vancouver - Caroline Cho

Caroline Cho was born and raised in the captivating city of Sao Paulo into a family filled with a rich Korean heritage. The city itself was also a blend of cultures. This vibrant mixing pot created a love of art and beauty that she now brings to the world of fashion. Cho's mantra, "Fashion design is the chance we have to create garments like the wild flowers, with all the colours of the wind and the limits of the universe."

As a child this future designer loved to play sports, but by high school those interests changed. "Art class was almost like a break to me. Painting, sculpture and drawing were relaxing and enjoyable. I was also intrigued with the complexity of biology studies and math came easy." Her 'Breakfast at Tiffanys' side won out and drew her increasingly into the glamorous world of fashion. She began to collect magazine advertising cutouts and used them to cover her wardrobe doors. Initially this interest led to studying Communications and Marketing and from there to a job working for another clothing brand - Princess. It wasn't enough. She wanted the entire package from beginning to colour theory to textile fundamentals. It was time to head back to school.

Milan and London were the first choice for fashion studies. However, these programs weren't exactly what she was looking for. Eventually her eyes turned to Canada, but ultimately it wasn't fashion that brought her to Vancouver. It was love. On a cruise with her parents, she met her future husband. Only a brief 4 months later she found herself stepping off a plane at YVR and enrolled in the fashion design program at The Art Institute of Vancouver. There were no regrets. "This was definitely meant to be. The Art Institute of Vancouver was just part of a divine plan. It was exactly what I was looking for and proved to be the right choice."

Cho was now in school in a different country, studying in a different language and completely away from family and friends. She remembers, "It was a daily task to absorb more vocabulary, but aside from the language I was doing what I loved. I was always bugging my teacher to teach me everything and had constant questions on how to do it flawlessly." Always looking for a challenge, the budding designer entered the school's Cool vs Cruel Competition. Then came the national Telio Breakthrough Designer Competition where she was one of 25 finalists. The theme - Light with an Over Exposed Glow. Every finalist had their design shown on the runway at Montreal Fashion Week - something Cho will always remember.  "It was an unforgettable experience and I am forever thankful to Telio for the opportunity.  The most exciting moment is when you see the dress you designed and sewed so passionately in a real-deal runway show. The heart skips a few beats and you can't breath, but it doesn't matter."

Telio Competition illustration and final garment.
On return from Montreal, Cho began the intimidating task of producing a graduation portfolio and 3 final looks. The idea of creating a wedding collection blossomed from her personal journey. Hours of research were spent collecting ideas and inspiration, in fact a whopping 30 ideas provided the starting point. Avoided were the traditional strapless mermaid silhouettes and designs had to flatter a wide range of body types. "My final concept was a mixture of vintage with a Bohemian Chic - like a wedding happening in a secret royal garden. The colour story was dry mint and blush pink for the bridesmaids and an antique white for the bride. I paid special attention to the laces I chose because they are important element in creating a stunning effect." The lace was paired with silk charmeuse and iridescent chiffon to create a finer and more delicate look.

With graduation now behind her, Cho is focused on gaining more experience with existing brands and expanding her knowledge in all areas of the design process - concept development, designing, pattern making, communication, marketing and branding. And she is grateful for her time at The Art Institute of Vancouver. "Beyond the knowledge and skills, I am glad for the people I met and worked with - not only my friends, but instructors and advisors Brenda Wong, Anita Heiberg, Shainin Karnai and Sandra Scott. It means so much to have you on my side."

To contact Caroline Cho please visit her website at more information on the Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing programs at The Art Institute of Vancouver go to

The Personal Story Behind Beautify Me Vancouver

Here is our story and how it came to be -Kimberly Hoogendoorn

On November 30th 2010 my uncle, who is LURE Salon's co-owner, was diagnosed 
with leukemia. When a loved one is suddenly faced with the diagnosis of a blood 
cancer, you desperately want to hear that there is hope and that a treatment is available. 
We are so grateful for the Hematology Research and Clinical Trial Unit and their 
commitment to provide patients with the newest and most effective treatments available.
Without this my Uncle Dan wouldn't be here with us. 

We are so blessed that Dan Nguyen is healthy so we decided that we would get 

involved and give back. For the past two years LURE Salon team have hosted a 
“Cut for the Cure” and raised over $30,000. This year we want to get more people
 involved and raise even more awareness about blood cancers in Vancouver. 
We will be spearheading the first annual “Beautify Me Vancouver” and this will run 
from April 15-20th, 2013. The concept will be similar to Dine out Vancouver, 
but with salon/spa services instead of food! This is a battle Dan and many 
others continue to wage against blood cancers and without the support of people 
like you, their recovery would not be possible.

April 15-20th are the dates set for Beautify Me Vancouver - a fundraising campaign being championed by Lure Salon. It opens with a fabulous Gala Ball at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia on the 15th and then continues in the salon through the 20th with a menu of special services. 25% of proceeds will go to the Hematology Research and Clinical Trial Unit for Leukemia and Lymphoma at Vancouver General Hospital.  But before I give you more information on how to be involved, I want to take a moment to share the incredible personal story behind the founding of this event. It all starts with salon co-owner Dan Nguyen.

Dan's Story - Nguyen had been feeling off his game for almost a year, but blamed being tired on the incredible schedule he kept. There were 12 plus hour days, mentoring of his young staff at Lure Salon, trips to NYC-Paris-Milan to work with his mentor – Oribe – at high profile shows. Of course he was tired! Then one day at a creative shoot he stuck his finger with a bobby pin and it didn't stop bleeding for hours. The day he was diagnosed with Leukemia, he even went to work out with a personal trainer as he thought he just needed to sweat it out. “This has always worked for me all through my entire 25 years career. I have never called in sick and always worked through everything. Until that day, I'd always pushed and pushed my limits.”

The journey through treatment and recovery came with many lessons. Nguyen is now trying to learn to listen to his body and feels tremendous gratitude for family, friends and work as he has been buoyed by their strong support. And he will always be grateful for the amazing, consistent and dignified care he received from the doctor's and nurses at VGH. He shares, “The experience has taught me so much and has rocked me to the core. It has brought a lot of positives to the forefront and the realization of having to accept life's limitations. I'm so grateful to be alive and feel it's my duty to bring awareness and raise money for VGH Blood Cancers Research.“

Kim's Story - Hoogendorn still remembers the day the phone call came as clearly as if it was yesterday.  "It was early morning and I was working out at the gym. I almost fell  off the treadmill. All I could remember thinking was this just isn't possible. Uncle Dan had always been a huge role model in my life and such a STRONG person." Although shock set it, there were things to be done. Working on autopilot she began calling his clients to cancel appointments and share the news. 

Then it was time to head to the hospital. Family and a very supportive medical team were crucial during the coming months. "I'm so fortunate to have such a loving and close knit family. There was a distinctive aroma on the Leukemia floor - home cooked Vietnamese food made by my Aunt Soung and incredible Ba Ngoai (grandmother) which helped us deal with the long hours at the hospital." Staff at the salon stepped into hyperdrive to make sure all Nguyen's worries were dealt with. While on the ward, Hoogendorn became aware that specialized units like the one helping her uncle were often shut down for lack of funding. This drove her to start researching how to give back. In 2011, the first Lure Salon Cut for the Cure raised $13,000 for the Hematology Research and Clinical Trials Unit at VGH. In 2012 the total was a whopping $17,000. 

The kick-off opening gala on April 15th will be an evening full of fashion, dance, drinks and fun. Included in your entry fee is a first drink of choice and some delicious appies. From April 16th - 20th, Beautify Me Vancouver moves into the Lure Salon.  Based on the Dine-out format, stylists are offering a "MENU" of services to choose from with 25% of proceeds being donated to the charity. Bookings fill up quickly, especially if you have a favourite stylist, so it's important to get your appointment scheduled early by calling 604-669-5878. Unable to attend?  The salon has sent up a donation page on the VGH website - just click HERE. Lure's fundraising goal this year is $13,000 and I know this dedicated team will meet their goal - especially with your support.

For more information or to book one of the Beauty Me Vancouver menu appointments, just call the salon at 604-609-5878. Want to read more on Dan Nguyen's amazing career, check out my previous article on the talented artist calle Passion and Perseverance

Cut for the Cure 2011

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Project Runway Season 11 - Episode 7

Check out recaps of other episodes by clicking the the Project Runway tab.

The craziness all starts this week when Heidi Klum walks onto the runway with a duck on a leash to tease the designers - then it's off to the workshop. On entering, they quickly realize they are surrounded by mountains of duct tape in every colour and pattern imaginable. Michelle's comment, "Holy duct tape Batman!" Tim Gunn introduces the rep for Duck Brand duct tape, Bill Kahl, who is wearing a duct tape tie. This company holds a Stuck at Prom contest for prom goers every year where couples create tuxes and dresses out of duct tape. Winners receive a $5000 scholarship. 

It's pretty clear by this point there will be another unconventional challenge. The designers are to work in teams of 2 to create a prom dress out of duct tape that is fashion forward, fresh and innovative. They have one day and will be showing the designs that evening to a group of high schoolers who will give comments and vote on their favourite. These votes will count for 20% of the garment's final score. The winner of this challenge will have $5000 donated in their name to Autism Speaks courtesy of Duck Brand. Guest judge will be fashion designer Chris Benz

Stanley chose to work with Layana which hurt Richard's feelings as they were such a great team last week. Stanley wanted to work with someone new, but got more than he bargained for. Layanna forced a change the colour scheme and then constantly nattered about the design....nag, nag, nag. She fussed and worried through most of the process instead of just buckling down and working. It had to wear. 

Kate chose to work with Tu as she found him nicer all around. Unfortunately Tu had never been to a prom and had absolutely no idea where to go with this creatively. His construction skills are also not that strong. In the end the pairing went okay because Kate made all the decisions and Tu assisted. This team lacked someone with a creative, out-of-the-box spark as the final dress was very expected in terms of design. Students felt this dress looked most like a real prom dress was which was a good thing in their eyes, but that wasn't the challenge.

Michelle chose to work with Amanda and they were a good team. Michelle brought edginess in spades and Amanda pulled her back from taking it too far. In the end they came up with something funky and very original - a Punk girl prom dress. They couldn't agree on which pattern tape to use, so took 2 colours of duct tape and created an abstract print based on houndstooth. In Michelle's mind, "Everyone wants the funkiest, most different dress. They don't want to show up and find someone with the same gown." Surprisingly the students weren't wow'd by it.

Richard chose Daniel. They then walked over and took all the gold tape and refused to let anyone have any at all! Not well received from the other designers when they wouldn't even let another team use some for trim. First they starting by shaping the duct tape on the form and then realized it was much easier to make the fabric first. The inspiration was the movie Sixteen Candles. I did like the latticework they created as a detail. Unfortunately I think the two of them have a tendency to tacky that found it's way into the design.

Patricia and Samantha were a pair by default. These two have very different aesthetics and working styles so it was a challenge. In fact, most of the other designers prefer not to work with Patricia. It has nothing to do with her ability, it's just the way she designs and her creative process comes from such a unique place that it's confusing to others. Patricia decides to make fabric. Samantha is worried about time, but backs down. For a while they just go about creating separate pieces until Tim jumps on them. While it came together in the end, I was totally floored they got the most votes from the students.

Michelle (Winner)/Amanda

Top designs in my opinion were hands down the looks created by Michelle/Amanda and Stanley/Layanna. I think either could have been picked the winner. Michelle is so unique in her design work. I think she was given the win because the design was so obviously influenced by her aesthetic and it was such an original concept. Judges comments included - modern, fun and slightly sinister; every high school fantasy; Gwen Stefani. Stanley could just have easily been given the win in my opinion. His inspiration came from cartoon animation. Judges comments included - totally in love with this; a complete look; modern, fashion forward and cool; so much depth and movement. I don't think Amanda had enough of her own viewpoint in the garment and Layana spent too much time second guessing everything to be considered for the win. I loved both designs and glad the final choice was not mine.


I am at a loss as to why the students and the judges seemed to like Patricia/Samantha's dress. Nina felt the students liked it because reminded them of Katy Perry. Perhaps. The skirt fabric Patrica made was an interesting element and the back of the bodice was quite nice, but the front was boring. Overall it looked like something from a Sci-Fi movie. My notes say the judges gave this a top 2 finish, but Stanley/Layana's dress is just a lot better on every front. Could be the student vote was a factor. No one particularly liked Richard/Daniel's offering, mostly because they felt it was dated and old. The lovely lattice work was appreciated once it was seen, but as the designers chose to hide it under the arms, this detail was lost on the runway. Nina was the most brutal - from heroes to zeroes, la mariachi prom, one dimensional. This one was in the bottom 2. Not my favourite, but I know girls who would wear it.  

Kate/Tu were well received by the students, but the judges were not fans. I do want to make one comment here - neither Heidi or Nina had ever went to a prom. They had absolutely no idea what girls wear and went so far as to suggest long dresses were out. Zac did try and educate them a bit, but it definitely influenced their judging. That said, the challenge was to be creative and design something new and fresh. I don't think Kate/Tu accomplished that. The gown was like thousands of others worn on a regular basis and the colour was dull compared to the other dresses.  Judges comments include - it doesn't feel fun, the skirt is so tight she can't move, it's old fashion and square, with 38 colours and prints to choose from you chose this? In the end Kate was sent home because the design and tape choices were hers. Tu really just went along for the ride, so in my mind he should have gone home because he didn't put himself out there at all. At least Kate had a point of view.

If you want to see larger images of any of these designs, check out Rate the Runway.