Monday, September 30, 2013

We3 - Ten Years, Ten Collections and Three Friends in Life and Business

S/S '14 We3
 As Eco Fashion Week's next season fast approaches, it's a great opportunity to look at some of the designers Vancouver will see on the runway.  Enter We3.  I first became aware of the Twigg & Hottie Boutique on Main Street several years ago when I interviewed one of the designer/owners for an article on their store.

Then there was a follow-up piece on their newly launched We3 label - We3 Are Louder Than Words - by Ashley Perfonic in 2011 for a magazine I was editing. It's exciting to get a chance to cover them again!

Designers Christine Hotton, Glencora Twigg and Jess Vaira are all graduates of the Helen Lefeaux School of Fashion Design (now defunct). In 2003, two of the designer opened the boutique with a third joining them a short time later. In the beginning, the main focus was their three individual collections, but over the years this unique store has grown to house over 75 Canadian and/or Eco clothing and accessory brands as well as their successful joint label We3. Running a boutique in today's economy is a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs, but the trio have managed to carve out their own unique niche with a seriously loyal customer base.

Their We3 label has evolved over the years into a collection of fashion forward basics and aesthetically driven pieces that have proved right on trend. “Bringing 5 years of experience to this We3 collection, we’ve created individual pieces to satisfy us in each stage of life. Here, in the middle, we celebrate our successes, thank our failures for their lessons, and set our sights on the journey forward,” shares Twigg. “Really, we are martyrs to our business. I am continually thankful for my partners that help make this journey fulfilling.”

Now celebrating their Diamond Year in business, it is the perfect time to see them showcased on the runway at Eco Fashion Week. Their October 9th event will feature the We3 S/S '14 collection full of fashion forward, ready-to-wear basics with an edgy appeal perfect for Vancouver's West Coast lifestyle. Trademark soft, wearable garments are complimented by unique detailing, taking them to the next level.

Price points for this collection also offer something for everyone - with a range starting at just $60. Vaira shares, “We are so incredibly proud to be doing what we do and want to share our success with the amazing city we call home, Therefore we are partnering with Vancity, TOMS and El Naturalista on a fashion show at Vancouver's Eco Fashion Week.”

For more information please visit or

10-collection retrospective!

Fashion, Champagne & Opera: Benefitting The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

Photography provided by Jarder Productions, Norm Lee, Ed Ng and Angelo Siglos.

Image by Jarder Productions
Although Sunday was a very long day, there was one event I just couldn't miss for several reasons. First were the two wonderful women running it - Cynthia Pace (style and image expert, host and producer) and Randi Winter (Passionate Travel).  They brought all their passion to bear to create a truly special afternoon full of luxurious fashions by Maryam Asgari, classical music, champagne and dessert in the beautiful University Women's Club of Vancouver at Hycroft - a magnificent Edwardian mansion. Second was the reason for the event - a fundraiser in support of The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - BC/Yukon Region. We have all been touched either personally or through friends and family, so 2 p.m. found me in my seat ready to enjoy.

Both women fulfilled multiples roles this afternoon.  Cynthia Pace was Host, Show Stylist and MC - introducing the speakers and musical talent as well as offering commentary on the fashions and models during the show. Randi Winter was host (greeting/seating guests) and special a presenter, as well as a fashion model. This was in addition to making sure everything was running smoothly. They both pulled it off with grace, although I am sure they were exhausted once they were finally finished for the day.

Left Randi Winter (Jarder Prod.) - Right Cynthia Pace (Norm Lee)
Opening the event was a speaker from the CBC-BC/Yukon, Rupinder Kang, who shared her own story. Shortly after the birth of her first child, a lump was discovered. After successfully battling the disease, she has gone on to become a mother of three and was there to assure us there is life after diagnosis. Other breast cancer survivors present included Maryam's mother and two models (one who was diagnosed at only 16), plus there was a model walking the runway in honour of her mother. Next came a beautiful opera solo by Julie Nadalini with piano accompaniment by Lesley Law - Pucini's Quando Menbo - and a heartfelt talk by Winter about the designer. I was so touched, I asked her to send me it so I could share at least a portion here.

Left Julie Nadalini (Angelo Siglos) - Centre Hassan Asgari (Jarder Prod.) - Right Maryam Asgari (Jarder PRod.)
               "Every story must have a beginning and it is fitting that The University 
               Women's Club TRAVEL! Special Interest Group that I chair here, was 
               where Maryam and I met. We had an instant chemistry.. (as you can tell, 
               we are both the shy retiring types... )

               Our connection and friendship grew, but it was not until I went to Maryam's 
               last fashion show that I saw the depth and breadth of her talent and creativity. 
              To be honest it was not until then that I actually saw Maryam's clothes on 
              anyone else yet even there-they were all young tall models and I was not sure 
              that the clothes were for me, even though I thought that they were very special. 
              Once I actually went to the shop and tried something on, I truly believed that 
              she was not only talented, but that the depth and breadth of her creativity which  
              includes sewing, designing, painting, making music or creating magic for the 
              film industry is as necessary for her as breathing. Put a pile of fabric in front 
              of her, and not one scrap will be left over and no two garments will ever be the 

              In the shop, my skepticism about her clothes being appropriate for my age 
              and size melted away. Size does not exist in Maryam's world. Proof positive 
              is that several of the pieces being shown here are now part of Cynthia and my
              collections and models of every size and shape are wearing garments that can 
              be worn by a majority of the women here. As my collection grew, so did the 
              idea of helping Maryam share her vision of clothing that is timeless, ageless, 
              sizeless and priceless one of a kind creations that are not bound to any size, 
              style or period of time."

Images by Jarder Productions

Maryam Asgari was born in Iran and loved fashion from an early age. By 13 she was taking private lessons from a designer and by 22 was studying Fashion Design at the University of Tehran. Approximately 15 years ago she moved to Canada and soon earned a diploma in dressmaking and fashion design with highest honor from ICS Montreal. In 2003 she launched her own label which is known for its exclusive, one-of-a-kind designs. We were treated to two separate shows this day. The first segment included over 25 modern, glamorous looks that ranged from dressed up daytime to luxurious red carpet. This half ended with a personal appearance by Miss Teen Canada Petite - Kathi Harder. Next came a short mix and mingle where we sipped champagne, nibbled on pink cake pops and cupcakes by I Dream of Cakes, met friends, made new connections and posed for photographs. Then it was back to our seats.

Left I Dream of Cakes - Out beautiful drinks (Images by Angelo Siglos)
The second half began with a stunning violin solo by Maryam's father - Hassan Asgari. This was followed by a selection of the designer's unique ethnic pieces that celebrated colour and honoured her heritage. It was surprising to learn these less glittery looks were often the more expensive. Why? The materials. Many were fashioned from antique fabrics that were hundreds of years old and cost thousands of dollars. Expensive antique laces trimmed several. I think my favourite were the five looks in a deep red/black palette that came out all together - each a little different and yet a common thread that linked them. The final look had everyone sitting up and taking notice - a custom made bikini and beautiful wrap.

Images by Jarder Productions

Special thanks to the team that created the beautiful hair and make-up - Pink Orchid with assistance from Andrea Shultz & Jordan Perry, backstage dressers Pnina Shapiro, Jennifer Logan-Manzer and Ilana Bergen and all the wonderful volunteers. Sponsors for this event include - Henna by Saaj (created the breast cancer symbols), Photography by Kerri-Jo, Lord's Shoes (handbags and accessories for the show), Pink Orchid, Shopper's Drug Mart, Soul Reflexions, Purdy's Chocolatier, Hit & Run Self Defense, Dr. Sam Winter - Dentist, Black Velvet Collection (ethnic jewellery for the show), Select Wine MErchants, Debee's, Vinyl, Di Morelli, Luxe Beauty Bar and Canadian Diamond Wholesalers.

Candids by Norm Lee -

Candids by Ed Ng -


All images by Jarder Productions unless noted otherwise.

The lovely Keiko taking a bow!
While there might have been significant rain earlier in the day, it didn't keep guests away from the next Ageless Fashion & Beauty event by Vernard LuvNGrace at the beautiful Waterfall Building near Granville Island. This evening held a truly great line-up - a small segment from Denise Brillon's production, MIXED, which she will be offering in full sometime in the new year; couture evening wear by Nancy Perrault; paintings by Yves Decary - L'Atelier Hair Salon - as well as a live painting created by him during the evening of one of the guests; and a multi-media film by Mark Jarder of Jarder Productions.

The Waterfall Building is such a beautiful venue to hold an event, partially because of the angled glass wall on one side and partially because it is also an art gallery.  This evening the walls were adorned with the large, colourful abstract paintings of Richard Roblin (through October 24th).  Two metal torso sculptures normally in the main area were now placed in the more intimate bar area.  A small gallery of Decary's paintings as well as the canvas he was working on was tucked along the glass wall, a table of interesting gifts from Good Vs Evil was placed near that runway and against another wall was a monitor showcasing the work of Jarder Productions. Music this evening was spun by Cheyanna J. V. Kootenhayoo (pre-show through the MIXED segment) and Christopher Mark Steffler of Mercury Management taking over just before Nancy Perrault's show.

Left - Yves Decary working on a live canvas,  Right - Elder Lekeyton who opened the Artifaax show.

First on the runway was the presentation of an edited segment of the MIXED show by Denise Brillon of Artifaax - a Collaboration of Culture through a Remix of Clothing & Music. This show was also an introduction to her new series, a very unique and limited line of dresses and t-shirts that are a canvas for special embroidery and printing.The show was opened by elder Lekeyton who first drummed, then spoke from his heart to the audience and ended with a song.  I personally was very moved. Words have so much power when they are spoken from a place of truth, wisdom and honour.

Next came a beautiful dancer in a bustier embroidered with stylized eagle feathers, a crinolined skirt and masquerade-style mask who captured everyone's imagination as she effortless owned the runway. Then we moved into the runway show itself - a combination of knitwear, bustiers and crinolines styled in Brillon's own unique way. The embroidery and graphics showcased on the garments are all her own original designs and infused with cultural elements. Special thanks to Talysia Ayala, Elisha Williams and Dawn Walsh for hair/make-up and backstage help with style and wardrobe by Karl Harris, Magy Zuleta and Dawn Walsh.

After a short break we were treated to a fashion show by local designer Nancy Perrault. This designer has made a name for herself by stepping out of the box. Past shows I have been privileged to be at have offered daring looks that would surely be a hit with the Club Scene and Rock-N-Roll crowd. I still remember one painted vinyl skirt she created for a previous show. The models were body painted, then rolled on the vinyl to transfer the paint before the skirt was created. Truly unique.

Perrault showcased a different side this evening by focusing specifically on her couture evening wear. Lots of sequins, glossy fabric and cut out backs.  Lengths were from very short to brushing the floor. Colours included white, silver gray, 2 pastels, gold, red, blue and black. One really interesting fabric offering was a stretchy, black leather-look with cut-outs that gave it a textural 3-D effect. I think the look that probably got the most reaction was a silver gray number trimmed with a great fringed scarf. When the model turned, the completely bare back received a lot of oohs and aahs.

Sponsors are all important to every event, so I hope you will support those who made this evening possible - Modern Working Women, Bella Garnet Beauty Salon, The Waterfall Building, Nucerity by Sarah Roy, Numa Models, Luxe Beauty Lounge & Spa, Jarder Productions. Earth Essence Jewelery, Street Cat Designs and Angels and Devils (Mithra Sawyer).

All images by Jarder, except lower right photo of dancer in Artifaax show.

To find out about upcoming LuvNGrace events, check out the website at

Friday, September 27, 2013

Project Runway Season 12, Ep. 11 - Next Generation

This week the designers waited in the backstage lounge to hear what the new day would hold. Tim Gunn came in with Rob Le Bras-Brown, the Senior VP of HP Worldwide Marketing and everyone sat up. It was the challenge they had all been waiting for since episode one.

Episode 11 would be the HP Intel Textile Design Challenge. The designers would be creating their own original print on the latest technology from Hewlett-Packard - the HP ENVY Rove. The inspiration for this challenge - a group of Next Generation innovators. They would not be the model or client, only the inspiration for the look. The print would be inspired by their muses, but the garment could be whatever they wanted it to be.

As the winner of the last challenge, Helen was allowed to select first and chose Ryan Keeley, an abstract artist, photographer and gallery owner who combines painting with new media and technology. The rest had to chose in an order dictated by the dreaded button bag - Bradon chose Nigel Sylvester, professional BMX rider, entrepreneur and youth mentor; Alexandria chose Ilana Greenberg, Creative Director at GD USA and a top graphic designer who uses her creativity to advocate social causes; Alexander chose Thiago Silva, executive pastry chef at Catch NY and named one of Zagat's 30 under 30!; Kate chose Maria Gonzalez, a 17-year-old who works with Girls Who Code (a nonprofit that teaches computer science skills to young women) and created an app called Say Something to help NYer's help homeless people;  Justin chose Miss USA 2012 Nana Meriweather who co-founded a non-profit in South Africa where her mother was born that focuses on education and health; and Dom chose Premal Sha, co-founder of Kiva which crowd funds loans for entrepreneurs world-wide.

Peter Som - Nina Garcia - Zac Posen - Heidi Klum - Justin's translator on the right

The designers were given one hour to meet with their muses to hopefully find the inspiration they needed to rock the runway this week, and then one hour to create their design after this meeting. The winner and their Next Generation partner would receive technology from HP including the Split X2, a combined desktop and tablet that splits, and the new Rogue that leaves the desktop behind. After their interviews, some brought souvenirs to the workspace - Alexander, a cake that melted in the 90 degree heat and Helen, a picture created by her muse with her image in it. Then they are given 30 minutes to shop at Mood Fabrics for additional fabric and a suggested budget of $100 to be debited from their GoBank account. Guest judge this week was fashion designer Peter Som. Note - after the workshop critiques Tim commented everyone seemed to be over thinking it and he was going to be a worried dad all night. When Heidi said on the runway that one or more may be out, she followed through this time with a double elimination.

Top 3 -

Dom (Winner) - Bradon - Helen

Dom's muse brought colourful photos of people being funded through Kiva. Print and colour was right up Dom's alley, so she was extremely excited to design a textile that translated all of those cultures seen in the pictures onto the runway. She decided to create a simple silhouette that incorporated her very complex, ethnic influenced textile. Tim adored her print and encouraged her to add the sleeves and not worry they were too much. I also loved this print and final look and put her the winner as well! She really brought it this week. Comments included - runway ready, modern, I love the detail on the back of the sleeves, I'd wear that, amazing job, this challenge was made for you, I love the hair and makeup, something very tribal but very current, loved your choice of colour, vibrant and dynamic and a global aspect but it doesn't feel costume'y.

Bradon's muse was an innovator with a lot of passion. He wanted to create a print that was an abstract reflection of a cityscape. His muse liked the concept and suggested a bird's-eye view of the lines created as a rider biked through the city. This translated into horizontal and vertical lines with energy given by the colour palette. Bradon was concerned about pattern scale, but felt the final fabric was bang on. Tim was perplexed by Bradon's use of his print - a jacket and long skirt. Bradon really listened and decided to use the print in the jacket and create something different for underneath. He changed from a maxi-skirt to a stretchy knit black dress in two parts (removable neck and dress). The judges loved it as did I. Comments included - I link your print a lot it is very modern, very hot, this is a cool and sexy dress, the dress is sick, glad you took an iconic piece like a bomber jacket and put your own twist on it, she's hot, something very dynamic about the print if was music it would be jazz, something very sporty chic about this outfit, its fabulous, it is totally wearable and your best work all season.

Helen shared with her muse that both of her parents are artists. Despite that connection, she was nervous about the challenge as she admittedly never worked with prints. I think that is a serious mistake for any designer. When she unrolled her textile she loved it, but admitted she hadn't given any thought into how she would use it. She pestered the others with constant questions which were extremely distracting. They became very tired of the interruption. She admitted to Tim she is freaking out. Tim's advice, "This is the print you have to work with. Make it work!" By the time this went down the runway I was also very tired of this designer's whining which continued when she explained her garment to the judges. I personally didn't think her print was all that interesting, didn't see the connection to her muse and the design was really simple. I would have put it in the middle or bottom and was shocked she was in the top three. Obviously the judges didn't agree with me. Comments included - I like this print, sexy but not slutty, still sophisticated, fit is not perfect, overall cool, the choice of ecru colour to contrast looks vintage but could be modern, dark spangled hipster and smartest thing you did was cut the dress into two pieces.

Alexander (sent home) - Kate (sent home) - Justin

Alexander was very nervous mixing pastry and clothing, especially as a costume designer. Silva gave him a chance to express his artistic side by actually decorating a cake. In the end, the chocolate lacing on top of the cake was the starting point for his print. The fabric looked better than expected, but the designer still commented it looked like the x-ray of an alien. His runway design was to have a futuristic feel, but Tim felt looked very clerical. Even Alexander finally admitted it looked like a nun. Many puns were offered as his last name is Pope. I didn't like the print or the inset white cross. The cut-out back was a little better. Comments included - I do feel the print you designed is not really showing me cake or fun or sexy, I think the cut of the dress is good but nothing sweet or sexy, a cult leader of chocolate, white stripes looks like you left the masking tape on, she's a landing strip, like 2 different recipes came together, she is so covered it's almost like when you over indulge in chocolate cake, should have been light and different elements that came together in not the right way to make them sing. 

Kate's muse was a programmer, so she decided do a play on the binary code to create a floral print. You would never know the final print was floral as it was invisible unless you were very close. When Tim visited her, she seemed very unsure of her direction with several images of different designs. The only thing Kate really had to show him was the insets to go into the skirt. All he could say was to keep working. When a designer doesn't have a clear direction by the time Tim comes in, it's never a good sign. Hated this look entirely and the print was only an after thought and not really an integral part. Comments included - oh god, mostly a print challenge and that was secondary in your design process, five panels too many, on top you add this belt, too many elements and none are working well, you had an opportunity to give us a print that looked strong, looks like she fell into a Kleenex box, it is ugly, so much wrong with it, the fabrication and your choice so every flaw and very sad.

Justin's muse's work in South Africa proved the inspiration for his print. He sketched out the symbol for I love you in sign language and integrated an abstract of it into the design. Tim loved Justin's print, but didn't like the straight line where the bodice met the skirt and encouraged him to keep the curves going. I actually liked this on the runway. He only used a small amount of the print but tied it in well with a white underskirt and a light, floating gray over skirt. The judges actually hated the gray over skirt saying it looked dirty or like smog so maybe it didn't work close up. Something it's hard to judge these things from a TV screen. Comments included - I love that you put sign language into your print, looks like you spent all the time on your corset and then slapped the bottom on, very messy, not cool and modern, hard to look at, I wish you would have made this a shorter dress, looks from waist up modern and sexy, it does look like the bottom of the dress is super depressed, a bit like a prom dress, I wish the print had continued onto the dress, it doesn't seem like it would make Miss USA the winner and it could have been so great as a knee-length.

Safe - 
Alexandria was drawn towards the brick walls that had been fixed with cement and repainted in the restaurant Barbalou - devastated by Hurricane Sandy and being restored by her muse. She used rectangles to emulate part of the white-washed bricks. When Tim came in she was set on an a-line mini-skirt (Justin is usually really sweet but called it a newspaper wraparound), but was choosing between a draped top and a cool leather vest. Tim tells her all the work must go towards either the vest or the top - she shouldn't do both. Cool idea, but somehow it just didn't quite come together to create a cohesive look. The plain white band in the middle looked out of place and the print too subtle for a print challenge. You want it to be an important and strongly visible part of the look.

Only a couple more episodes to go! The next episode determines who will go to the finale.

To see more or larger images go to RATE THE RUNWAY.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ha:Sang;Beg Rocks the Vancouver Fashion Week Runway!

All runway images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography

What a joy to have a designer show at Vancouver Fashion Week that I have followed for many years. This was my 4th season covering this talented artist from Korea and he again rocked the runway! Want to see a few photos from his previous runway shows at VFW?  Check out September 2012 and a retrospective showing four previous seasons called The Evolution of HaSangBeg.

One of the best moments of the whole week for me was the day before his show. This handsome young man in a long, tan trench coat comes up, says hi and asks if I will be there for his show the next day. If you know me, you know by the end of fashion week I'm so mushy brained I wouldn't recognize my own kids.  I say yes, of course, and then ask which show is his. When he says HaSangBeg, I'm actually speechless. I've only spoken to him once before and every time I see him he's dressed in anything but a tan trench coat.  My first order of business was to grab a photographer and get a picture of the moment, but he quickly escaped with a big smile on his face. This was his incognito wear and he didn't want it photographed.

The next day I came extra early so I would hopefully have a chance to connect with him and finally snap a picture of us together before he started gearing up for the show. By the time I have covered someone for five seasons, this has usually already happened. Not so with HaSangBeg. The crowd of admirers after a show is just too hard to navigate. Somehow I managed just the right moment. It was great to just relax, share a quick hug and let him walk me through the looks currently hanging enticingly on his rolling racks. This talented designer is still not all that into divulging a lot of personal information such as where he trained (although rumor has it some of this was covered in a TV interview after his show), but he is oh-so-friendly and down to earth - a truly nice person. Looking at his latest collection I was again, as always, in awe of his talent.

Every show he puts on is produced with perfectly balanced layers of simple and complex. I don't even know how to explain it other than to just dive in. Some of the silhouettes seen were actually very simple - beautifully proportioned but not elaborate in design. However, the fabrics were extremely complex. No the looks you saw weren't created from a purchased bolt of fabric. I am going to put the surprise information on the fabric later, so read on. Other looks were more complex in design or embellishment, but paired with a solid colour or quieter print fabric.

Another way HaSangBeg amped things up was with layering and detailing. Harnesses (some attached), intriguing metal triangles that were used both as sewn on embellishment and to create unique accessories such as an unusual metal bra top, matching baseball caps embellished with horns or chain and macrame'd fringe were all used to complete the looks. One great long coat had detachable white fringe attached with white straps at the elbows that took it out of the box. Cool design - unique twist. Another great styling note was the boots!  Totally street worthy, they were offered in all three digital prints. I definitely need a pair - hell with age appropriate!

The palette was COLOUR with a capital C - from bold primaries to bright watercolour pastels (yes pastels can be bright). While there were a few garments offered in black such as a dress, t-shirt, shorts, pants and skirt, they were used more as a stage on which to showcase the dramatic, colour palate.This S/S '14 collection was young, hip, edgy and desirable. Break it down into individual pieces and there was a range of options that could speak to the style demands of a diverse group of clients. In a conversation the next day, I told the designer I thought this collection could easily be a sell-out and I stand by that. As always, it's about reaching the right customer.

Now for the great fabric story. The light blue and dark striped fabric are his own prints. They were created by hand-beading two separate pieces of fabric (a four week process for each). Then quality images were taken of the finished fabric and scanned into the computer. These images were used to create the two striped textiles. For the lava lamp looking fabric in bright primary colours, he took six weeks to hook a rung with the design. Again, a quality image was taken, scanned in and used to create the digital print. If you looked close enough you could see the texture of the yarn visible in the print. WOW! Looking at these images I realize I didn't even get a chance to ask about the 3rd watercolour print.

Image courtesy of HaSangBeg

What continues to take my breath away is that this designer brings a look to each new collection that stands apart from the previous ones.  Like fine wine, a fan will be able to tell you what season a garment is from. That's not to say there aren't elements that find their way into each collection, but the overall look is unique. Where does HaSangBeg go from here?  Home to participate in Seoul Fashion Week.  No doubt his show will be SRO and the cameras again will be flashing non-stop.

Image courtesy of HaSangBeg

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vancouver Community College's Fiat Mode XXVI

The very first fashion show I attended as a writer was Vancouver Community College's Fiat Mode graduation show in September 2007 - 6 years ago - and I haven't missed a show since. The month before that show I interviewed my first design student - also from this school.  So when I sat in the audience last night to see the new group of talented students from this school show their graduation collections, it felt like coming home. 

Brianna Rae Pearce - Chin-yu Yu - Zetta Han

There are a couple of things I liked about the VCC show. First, there was a great range of collections from ready-to-wear to out of the box conceptional. This season students found their inspiration in a wide range of really unique places such as earthquakes, Tron, vintage basketball shirts and white jellyfish! The other thing I loved was that each designer showed five complete looks - this is the only school to use this format. It gives the audience a better feel for a student's range and skill. When someone puts five great looks down the runway that are all sewn impeccably it really makes a statement. I do need to note that as there are only two looks shown, some of these designers had others that showed a much wider range. EX. -One student you see her casual looks, but she also offered high-end gowns.

Fia Gobbato - Maggie Selzer - Raven McLean

Over the years the show has been produced in the Rocky Mountain Station, the Italian Cultural Centre and now in it's latest season - in the Vancouver Community College Broadway Campus. I have to admit, I liked the more intimate setting. It was in an open atrium on the 2nd floor with the portfolios in a side room on the floor below where you entered. Missed the portfolio room display until after the show when most were already gone.

Mi Huynh - Lisa Ngo - Henia Trylowsky
The challenge? The runway was in an L-shaped layout. Enter Sarah Murray of Fashion Capsule. I have had the privilege of knowing this talented professional (PR, Sales Agent, Writer, Teacher, Runway Show Producer) for a long time and she is known for creative runway show ideas such as musical chairs or carrying in the set. Want to know more? Check out my article for Fame'd reprinted here called Much Much More.

Michelle Nguyen - Cecilia Chenchen Xiao - Chloe Liu

For this unusual space Murray put five perfectly spaced elevated squares along the runway from start to finish. The entire collection of five looks came out at the same time with one model on each square. As host Tina Lovgreen (seen on overhead screens for those of us without a clear view) offered commentary on the designer's inspiration, fabric, favourite moments and more, the models moved from one square to the next, offering 360 degree poses at each stop so everyone could get a good look at the garment from all angles. 

Alice Tai - Saman Sandhu - Alita Gorgichuk

Photographs were being snapped constantly - media, friends and family on cell phones, Instamatic's and professional cameras. Probably the only negative was I didn't see a great place for a photographer's pit, although there may have been something in a place around the corner from where I was. I apologize for the non-professionally shot images. They were what I could snap on my little camera and most were shot into the spotlight. The beauty of using my own images, though, is that I can get this up right away and include images from every designer. So I think the pros balance out the cons.

Emily Kan - Jatinder Grewal - Luella Gomes

Of course, each graduating class has a few exceptional students selected for special mention. From this year's class, awards were given as follows: Maggie Selzer received the Hudson Award for academic achievement, Fia Gobbato received the Gabrielle Levy Award for scholastic excellence and Jatinder Grewal received the G & S Dye Award for best textile design work in a collection. I also want to mention that Grewal showcased the first pair of asymmetrical pants that I actually loved. More than love - I COVET them.

Nahal Baniadam - Tannaz Fathi Zadeh - Sophia Kim

I want to take a moment and recognize all those individuals who make an evening like this exceptional. Behind the scenes are people taking care of set up, organization, arriving guests, hair and make-up, announcing and more. From the program the list includes: Producer Nancy Nesbitt and Harumi Suzuki, Director Sarah Murray, Show Hair and Makeup Anita Lee, backstage and front of house crew from the Fashion Arts Faculty and Volunteers, Fred Michael of Rocky Mountain Production Service and MC Tina Lovgreen. Models this evening were from Wilhelmina, Lexington, JC Vancouver as well as independent. 

  Serine Zhang - Jennifer Kappler

Then there are the all-important sponsors that are crucial to the success of every show. They include Rocky Mountain Production Services, Telio Fabics (which also runs a nationwide student design competition each year), Novus TV, Mason's Sewing Machines and Jarislowsky Fraser Limited. Kudos to these generous sponsors and I hope everyone in attendance will support these generous companies.

Want to know more about the Fashion Design program at Vancouver Community College? Check out the links at

Monday, September 23, 2013

Project Runway Season 12, Ep. 10 - Project Runway Superfan

One of the designers ends up labeling this week's project THE REAL PERSON CHALLENGE. Another called it THE REAL WOMAN CHALLENGE. Both are right. Hundreds of viewers did videos on why they are Project Runway Superfans and why they need makeovers.  Eight were selected to be a part of this episode and for many of them, it was their first time to visit New York City. The women were offered the ultimate Project Runway experience. When they pulled up to Parsons and saw Tim Gunn waiting, they all went crazy. I hate when women squeal like that, but I'm sure the show loves it. The fun part was we had a tour of the actual set and backstage area which I did not realize was actually inside the design school.

Then Tim takes them upstairs where they quietly wait outside the work space. Inside the unsuspecting designers are anxiously anticipating their next challenge. All Tim tells them on entering is that they have new, very excited clients. In come the women and the designers learn they are to give them a complete make-over. Some designers are happy, some are terrified. Trying to please a customer like this could prove difficult. They've been watching for years and probably think they've absorbed a lot. In the end they were all quite open and gracious - not a demanding one among them. The women were pre-assigned via the dreaded button bag.

Left - designers at Mood with their clients, Right - Zanna Roberts Rassi, Zac Posen, Heidi Klum, Erin Fetherston

First the designers talked with their clients and I appreciated the fact that they asked what it is they wanted to change. Lots of stories came out. One is a Mormon, so is concerned about being conservative. Others wanted to lose the mommy look and still others were open to anything, wanting a total transformation. The designers had to take their clients to Mood Fabrics with them which I was sure was distracting.  They were given 45 minutes to shop (glad they gave them some extra time), a suggested budget of $200 - $400 and a full two days to complete the challenge. Nina Garcia was unable to be there this week so there are two guest judges - designer Erin Fetherston and Marie Claire Senior Fashion Editor Zanna Roberts Rassi.

This challenge was about more than apparel and accessories - it was a head-to-toe makeover. Hair expert Johnny Lavoy, consulting stylist for L'Oreal Paris, was brought in to help. Lavoy had viewed all the submission videos and let the ladies know they had better be open for change because it was going to start with a new hairstyle. Most would be getting a colour change to help promote L'Oreal's Féria line. When the designers returned to their hotel, the rooms had been re-arranged and Bradon and Alexander had to move in with Justin and Ken. Ken is ironing in a place that totally blocks the doorway so they can't get in with their suitcases - and expects then to just stand there holding all their luggage and wait until he is done as they have "barged" in. Please! By the time he finally moves out of the way, Alexander loses it and knocks the iron over. It escalates from there. Ken has an ugly, and frankly scary, temper. He started the incident, was extremely abusive to the talent coordinator that tried to calm him down and spiraled out of control. Tim was far too nice with him the next day and I can only hope Ken was embarrassed that he had to be placed in a room by himself, isolated from any support or camaraderie. It definitely affected the mood in the workroom.

Note - While I did agree with the judges choices, I always find it a bit sad when all the top looks are dark - a sea of navy and black. I would have loved to see some pop in the palette. I also with I could offer before/after images side by side of these women.

Helen (Winner) - Bradon - Justin

Helen wanted to amp her client, Jamie, up so she could feel beautiful and sexy. Good choice as Jamie's wish was for an elegant, modern, glamorous red carpet dress - a once in a lifetime dress to go with this one in a lifetime experience - and she got it.The final look was a long, strapless number with a high slit and a short dress underneath so she didn't have to worry about the slit. Helen actually lucked out in getting the client who would be the most dramatic in terms of change. Tall, slender model figure, but long mousy hair and unstylish glasses. Comments included - she looks spectacular, the corset fits well, the colour is perfect, chic and when it went down the runway I nearly fell off my chair.

Bradon decided to do a black dress with a black vest over the top out of silk - powerful, refined and classic with an edge - for his client, Jennifer, who wants New York edgy. In fact she wanted it to be a bit intimidating as she was shy by nature. He admited to Tim he felt it will be hard to impress the judges as she didn't look like she needed a make-over when she came in. Comments included - you could wear it at work with the vest over the dress and then take the vest off and you have a super sexy dress underneath, it's not boring, I love the jacket, her body looks smashing, sophisticated chic and powerful, I love the details on the shoulders and the shiny dress is a little plastic looking. Note - all but one just loved the dress, so it just goes to show fashion is personal.

Justin did something very charming, he asked his client, Tristen, for her autograph and suggested it might become the inspiration for her garment. The garment was to be conceptual, modern and one of a kind. As she was Mormon, it also had to be modest. He actually created a corset for underneath as she recently lost 100 pounds and needed a little support in the waist area. If you look at his dress above, you can see he did manage to use white embroidery to create her signature down the front and that impressed all the judges. Comments include - you thought about everything, I love the signature, super personal, I applaud you as you made a personal and beautiful black dress, I was intrigued by the signature and job well done.

Ken (sent home)  - Alexander - Alexandria

Ken didn't feel the green fabric his client, Susie, loved but went with it to make her happy. It was a make it work moment for him. What she wanted was a dress to wear out to dinner, so he decided to do a colour blocked shift out of the green and a brown leather. Susie was sensitive about her waistline, but Tim reminded Ken it would look best if it just skimmed her. Ken's client ended up over the moon for this dress and exuded joy all down the runway, so it was a bit sad that the judges hated it and sent him home. Ken, however, seemed to know what was coming in the workroom - it just wasn't something he was proud of. Comments included - I didn't love it, the green is a little bit sad, the lines are not doing you a whole lot of good, one boob looks bigger than the other, just a simple green dress when you turn around, this is not meticulously well done, graphically I don't think the lines are flattering, the proportions are off, it's a little bit odd and the neckline is neither here or there.

Alexander was asked by his client, Andrea, to do a fitted, tailored suit for a corporate desk job. This meant a lot of work had to be completed in only 2 days. He was obviously concerned. Time ran out before he could finish lining it and the judges noticed. There were also some weird additions of fabric including a flap on one back shoulder. Comments included - something seems off on the inside construction, the graphic breakup is not so flattering, a lot of elements here and they haven't gone together, it's so boring, the fit is no good, there's something odd in how you cut the skirt and this could have looked compelling in a sketch, but it did not execute.

Alexandria's client, Stephanie, is an art history major who was looking for an outfit to wear on job interviews, something a bit conservative. The design is a dark solid colour jacket, white blouse and a dark skirt out of a muted print. The judges were not a fan. Stephanie didn't hate it, but it obviously didn't wow her either. Comments included - I'm not loving this look, no visual impact, it does not look youthful to me, not hip or modern, the jacket feels sad and not inspired, maternity, librarian and should have taken the modern art and injected it into it.

Dom - Kate
Dom decided to create a date night dress out of print that she hoped would help Jane-Sarah feel more glamorous - something tasteful, classic, but sexy enough it would make her husbands jaw drop when he saw it. Tim is concerned about the size of the print as he thought it would overwhelm the client. The dress moved beautifully and the client seemed happy. As far as the print, I always hate when larger women have to move in a place of fear and limitation. She owned it. Add in a great new hair colour and style and that's all that mattered.

Kate's client, Altagracias, wanted to be a hot mom and look active, sexy and feminine. Not sure I think this shade of brown is HOT, but the use of lace in the shoulders and sleeves does take it up a notch. The client looked very happy on the runway and the make-over was great, but I'm just not sure that shade of brown screams active, hot, sexy and feminine.

If you want to see larger images or more pictures go to RATE THE RUNWAY.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vancouver Fashion Week S/S 14, Day 5 - Kamila Gawronska, Lilla Csefalvay, Hong Kiyoung, Kaye Morales and Candids

Runway images by Peter Jensen Photography
All other images as credited (Kuna Photography)

Kaye Morales Final Looks
Image by Peter Jensen Photography
The final day of any fashion week is always bittersweet. Media and photographers that have been there for most of the shows are utterly exhausted and brain dead - I was no exception. I found myself mixing up names and bouncing off of others as I navigated the crowded runway between shows. This morning trying to write up four shows is a very slow process indeed. At the same time, the party is over. This season showcased tons of new designers from around that world that brought unique ideas to the table. I am inspired!

There are so many designers I did not have time to cover this week that deserved my attention. Others are promising - still growing and changing. I have my eye on a few that I am sure will be featured here in the future as they emerge with a clear vision. To all the new connections I met, it was a pleasure and I look forward to staying in touch. To all the wonderful local fashion family I have the privilege of knowing, what a blessing to spend time with you again.

I will be covering two designers in separate articles in the coming weeks - Ha Sang Beg who I have had the privilege of writing on for four seasons now.  It's time. Then there is Angela Huang - a design student at Kwantlen - who rocked the runway with an all-white collection. Be sure and check back for this additional articles as well as hopefully more candids as they become available.

Kamila Gawronska -

Award winning fashion and costume designer/photographer Kamila Gowronska hails from Poland where her collection is also produced. Her resume includes a degree from the Art Department at the Zielona Gora University, a Master of Arts finals on Fashion Photography and studies at the International School of Costume and Fashion Design in Warsaw. She opened the evening with a show that literally blew the audience away. I have 10 images here, but could have easily have posted every single look from her collection. Each garment was visually striking with unique details provided by a combination of silhouette, intricate detailing and/or fabric texture - the technical construction impressive. It is impossible to mention a favourite look as there were just so many. The size of the images above don't offer a close enough look to truly appreciate the fabric work in the black jumpsuit and green dress (both center in the images above). The voluminous skirt in the bottom left image was created with outward facing soft fabric that floated as the model walked. Then there was the beautiful neckline in the coat bottom right. A backless pink dress not featured here also caught my eye. Well, to be honest, almost every look did. I did try to get close to talk with the designer directly after the show to get more information about this collection, but she was surrounded by a sea of ardent admirers hoping to get that quote or picture. Hopefully she will return next season and I can book a pre-show interview

Lilla Cséfalvay - 

Images by Peter Jensen Photography
Budapest designer Lilla Cséfalvay - according to her Facebook page currently a style advisor for Robert Niklas - had the challenge of following a strong opening show and did it beautifully with a truly unique, conceptual set of garments. What we saw this evening was her MA collection created at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design.There were only 5 looks, but they were all that was needed. Her ability to work textiles into pieces of art is exceptional. There is no way to truly describe these garments or their impact on the runway, so I'll let the photos speak for themselves. All I can say is I'm a huge fan and will be watching her career. 

Images by Peter Jensen Photography
This quote from the Province's interview with Mark Abbott lays out the thought that went into the collection's creation, "Lilla’s inspiration draws from various shape-conscious art periods. Her last collection took elements from the Bauhaus movement, the highly influential modernist school of art, design and architecture founded by German architect Walter Gropius in 1919. She focused attention on Bauhaus style director and photographer Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s monochromatic visuals to create her own aesthetic...According to Lilla, in order to get the look she desired she created structures and surfaces by sewing fabric bands tightly next to each other. If the point of Gropius’ movement was to re-imagine the material world to reflect the unity of all the arts, then Lilla’s awe-inspiring dresses are as close to Gropius’ vision as is possible." The article is a great read if you want to know more about this talented artist. Also be sure and check out Cséfalvay's Indigogo campaign - Aurora Borealis.

Images by Peter Jensen Photography

 I always rue when I cannot find more information on a designer, but hopefully Hong Kiyoung will see this and send me a press release.  This young designer from South Korea offered us a great range on the runway - male and female, graphic t-shirts to full looks. The more upscale looks were definitely my favourite. With a palette anchored by black, there were still great pops of colour such as the red suit jacket above.  Zippers were also a great detail used throughout.  You can see one example in the black shorts centre above. From his website, "He found his principle on 'Minimalistic Exaggeration', and is trying to disseminate it to other designers. Strongly inspired by contemporary arts that portrayed by new artists who are trying to change, he presents luxury sportwear and classic apparel with his own wit...The new definition of men's beauty is rising up...." Hoping that I will be able to add more to this write-up soon.
Kaye Morales

When the first model hit the runway, it quickly became apparent we were going to see something totally about of the box for our last show this season. Philippine designer Kaye Morales brought it! Trained at SOFA - and currently furthering her studies at central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London - this artist also has a background in production design and interior design. The brand offers both a pre-a-porter line called Schizo as well as a made or order line under the designer's name. I love the description offered in her online bio, "...a style that intertwines opposing designs with utmost taste - urban street wear with class, punk with sophistication and elegance with a wild streak."  Amen! It comes as no surprise that she has celebrities knocking at her door. On the runway was an extensive line of women's and men's wear looks not for the faint of heart. These were young, statement making looks to be worn by those wanting a bold look. A combination of edgy styling and wild, wonderful headpieces by Tony Evan and awesome footwear courtesy of Ron Ramiro of Monster Shoes created just the right emotional note. By the time the final couple hit the runway - opening image at the top of the page - she had the full attention of everyone in the audience. Kudos for ending the week on such a great note. The designer offered a special thanks to.

Candids by Kuna Photography -