Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hive Mind Millinery 2014 Couture and Men's Collections Preview

All images by Ed Ng Photography unless otherwise noted.

Where and when did I meet Dominique Hanke?  I no longer remember. One day, she came into my world and things have never been the same.  I don't think people perhaps fully understand how hard she works and how much of herself she gives to the community. This modern woman manages to balance family - husband and two children - and supporting the local fashion industry by attending numerous events (I think she makes it to more than I do) all while still finding time to style numerous fashion shoots. Are you tired yet? You should be. Now add entrepreneur running her own business and artist to the list.

Hanke moved from England to Vancouver in 2007 and by 2011 had launched Hive Mind Millinery. Her unique take on what a hat could be quickly gained media attention and the line is now a regular on the runway as well as frequently featured in blogs and magazines. Recently New York called. Hive Mind hats were front and centre at Fashion Designer Sho Sho Esquiro's show during Couture Fashion Week (a young native designer who spotted Hanke's designs in a Georgia Straight article and who she has collaborated with ever since). Hanke was able to be there in person to bask in the glow! It had to be incredibly exciting. And all this has come about in only two years! My question - where does she find the time for inspiration and construction in all this chaos?

Creativity and fashion have been a constant for Hanke since a very young age.  I love this quote from her website -

           "I would spend many hours delving through my mother's closets trying on all her silk 
            and lace, wrapped in a cloud of Chanel No. 5, willing her stiletto heals to fit and lusting 
            after the big floppy brimmed sun hat on the top shelf. After I had been chased away, 
           I would sit whiling away the hours creating fantastical outfits, always topped of with 
           a Vanity Fair-esque chapeau. Later, inspired by the BBC costume drama'The House 
           of Elliot', my dream was to open my own fashion house. As I grew up, my passion 
           never waned, but I took a more practical approach to my career, settling on architecture.
           However, my love of textiles and fashion drew me back in. I finally gave into that 
           passion and began researching the teachings of millinery. Four years later, Hive Mind
           Millinery was born."

On October 16th, local VIP and media were treated to a preview of the Hive Mind Millinery 2014 Couture and Men's Collections at Frontier Flooring on 8th in Vancouver. The space was set up with room for everyone to sit and still have a great view. Mistaken Identity Vineyards was on hand offering white wine to sip and She to Chic Beauty Lounge handed out spa vouchers to attendees. The room was wall to wall with a who's who of people from the local fashion scene as well as VIP industry supporters. It was hugs all around - one of my favourite parts of any event - but it took quite awhile this night to say hi to everyone. Still crossing my fingers no one was missed. 

While in NY, a conversation with a good friend proved inspiring and helped reaffirm her overall direction. Hanke's desire for Hive Mind is to push the boundaries of what people think about millinery - to give them a new perspective on it as wearable art, with both aspects equally important. The designer shared, "These collections are heavily driven by structure and the qualities of the materials." Kenneth Wyse provided the styling for this event, offering just the right looks to compliment the new millinery collection.

For Men, hat offerings were fun and fresh with a funky vibe achieved through strong colours and textural fabrics. Wyse styled this section with a twist on classic menswear. "A mix of Clockwork Orange meets Chuck Bass." I loved the way the male models offered a bit of extra personality in the way they showed off  their hats.

Women's couture designs were inspired by 80's/ 90's catwalk - the drama and the excess!  I could hear oohs, aahs and gasps all around during the couture section and it was well deserved. Wyse paired these out-of-the-ordinary hats with looks inspired by "...Grace Jones and elitist power women from the 80's." Included were vintage clothing along with some pieces from Evan Ducharme's 68 Pound Challenge for Eco Fashion Week, all in a palette of black and white."  My favourite would-die-to-have piece? The black lace number with the small red under cap.  Exquisite. However there were several more I covet.

For more or to contact Dominique Hanke go to the Hive Mind Millinery website at http://www.hivemindmillinery.com.

A few pic from Couture Fashion Week by TUR Photography for Bravura Magazine.

Blanche Macdonald - Redesigning the Edelweiss: “Noble White”.

There is an old legend about the Edelweiss flower. The Snow Queen, upon a crystal throne guarded by ruthless goblins, waits for a love she has yet to believe in. Stories of her beauty spread far and deep into the hearts of many doomed suitors, who dared to proclaim love for the queen. Hundreds of men venture to the throne, only to be thrown in to the abyss by goblins. The ice in her heart unyielding while the suitors die before her. It was not until a timid hunter presented himself before her He was silent because she was the most beautiful; and he knelt before her for days, because his love is action not a demand. At this, the queen’s heart stirred for the humble hunter. But the jealous goblins will never allow such a marriage, and in an act of defiance viciously hurled the hunter in to the abyss. The Snow Queen helplessly watched, feeling love for the first time. For him, the queen wept; and from those tears bloomed the Edelweiss flower, white as the Alps and lonely as she.

So the fairy tale of the Edelweiss goes on and on, but in many different ways. As a new designer, Daniela Reiser is also on a life-long venture towards her passion. Born in Calgary, Canada, then moving to Switzerland, Reiser’s journey has afforded her a unique Swiss-Canadian style. But regardless of where she lived Reiser was a dynamic creative. “I loved theatre and making up stories, written or [performed] with my cousin. We acted like we were different characters. Our Grandma had an attic full of costumes, along with her wedding dress. We were allowed to go up there and dig through all the suitcases and closets full of clothes, shoes and accessories. I also loved doing crafts which my Aunts often did with us, I learned how to silk paint at 8/9 years old, how to knit and how to make other stuff…” Even past high school, her artistic curiosity pervaded, which would then include gardening, painting, woodwork, sewing, cooking, music and more!

Of all crafts Reiser engaged in, it was a strong sense of fashion that had somehow gripped into her persona. As a child, she was known to hover over the television screen, commenting on the prettiness or ugliness of dresses. She was also strongly opinionated and protective of her own image. “I recall my mother never being allowed to touch my hair, or tell me what to wear. I would wear the oddest outfits that not in a million years would ever go together but they let me express myself. [Mother] just wouldn’t dare start a fight with me.” For a time, this remained unnoticed, and she pursued a business degree. 

It was not until Reiser moved back to Canada that her sense of fashion resurfaced, kicking in like raw instincts. “While in Calgary during the winter months I was bored and asked my sister for her sewing machine. I desperately wanted a wrap dress but couldn’t find one. I had never sewn garments before; I only watched people. I had no clue how to read a pattern, or how to print match anything. Yet, it didn’t stop me from buying fabric and a pattern and just try.” She managed to make 10 outfits, as well as dresses, capes and skirts for her little niece. She describes her sewing streak as some form of addiction, relentless in its intrigue though she had no clue about garments at all. “I am almost scared to look at them today, since I know so much more now.But it didn’t matter, I was busy and I loved what I was doing.”

Moving to Vancouver, Reiser eventually pursued fashion design in Blanche MacDonald. When and how she decided to attend the fashion school seems mysterious. Everything just magically fell in to place. Within a year, she absorbed what seems like a career’s worth of fashion skills. “With lots of dedication and commitment I wanted to do everything I set my mind to. During the past year I either learned in school, or taught myself Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, how to pattern draft, draw, source fabrics, notions, write a business plan and how to write a press releases.” In addition to the practicalities, she also took up the fashion literature encompassing one thousand years of fashion. But she didn't mind. She was mesmerized with fashion, as she avidly reads about the design houses, wondrous as the castles in fairy-tales and of the legendary designers who rule it.
Reiser graduated with a stunning collection entitled, ‘Noble White’. “The “Edelweiss” (in German, meaning “noble white”) flower inspired the collection for its uniqueness and strength—a symbol of eternal love and tragedy. Influences in this collection are rooted in the history of Swiss traditional dresses as well as the Edwardian/Victorian era.” The color palette itself emulates the stuff of fairy tales: silver and white for snow, black for the abyss, and red for love and blood.

‘Noble White’ features three romantic outfits inspired by the legend of the Edelweiss. The stunning ‘Noble White’ dress, a gown worthy of a queen, contains hand beaded Swarovski crystals upon the floral pattern. For menswear, a long, button-down coat of red and black, the look of an enamored hunter. And finally, Reiser’s own favorite look, a patterned black jacket over lace pants; a look that is neither Snow Queen, nor hunter, but someone uniquely both. The strength and elegance of this look makes it a hit among friends and buyers, who immediately want to buy the jacket.

After fashion school, the adventure goes on for Reiser, who has yet to reach her ultimate passion. “I don’t think I can bring anything new to the fashion industry per se, as they say, “'it’s all been done before”'”, admits Reiser. Whether she is just another suitor to the whims of fashion, or perhaps the one to woe it, only time can tell. Regardless, we are sure to see more of her in the future. “I can bring a different perspective, view or version of fashion. Or alter it so it ultimately expresses myself as a designer. Because fashion design means expressing your true inner self through a creative art form, knowing who you are, what you want and growing thick skin.”
For more on Daniela Reiser or to contact her, please visit her website - 47th Parallel North.

To check out the fashion design program at Blanche Macdonald go to - http://www.blanchemacdonald.com/fashion/.

Monday, October 28, 2013

VOKRA - All Life is Precious.

By guest writer Elisabeth Yoon, Miss Greater Vancouver 2013

All life, whether it is human or animal, is precious.

I fostered a pregnant cat named Cookie two months ago. She came to me with a very full belly, yet seemed only a year old kitten herself. She had a very delicate face and frame, and seemed to have difficulty moving around because of her pregnancy. Every day, as I pet her, I nervously looked for signs of labour. I felt her kittens move in her belly, I felt her purr as she approached labour, and when she did give birth, I was there to witness five beautiful and tiny kittens squirm and mew for the first time. It was one of those moments in life—when time slows into a graceful waltz and you realize just how profound and how precious life is. Volunteering as a foster for Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (in short, VOKRA) was one of the most life changing and rewarding decisions I have made.

Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association started out with two founders - Karen Duncan and Maria Soroski. Their goal was to provide a different solution to manage homeless or unwanted cats. Rather than have them put down for unjustifiable reasons, they decided to rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home abandoned or feral cats. From rescuing 150 kittens and cats to taking in 1820 cats in 2012, VOKRA has grown exponentially. The organization is driven 100% by volunteers and donations—there is no government funding - et VOKRA continues to be successful in its journey to protect lost, unwanted, and homeless cats with the help of dedicated fosters and volunteers.

Fostering and volunteering can be hard work at times. Sometimes, rambunctious kittens decide that shredding toilet paper will be their entertainment of the night. Feral cats can be terrified of humans and make rescue very difficult. Abandoned cats form colonies and their numbers multiply very quickly. No matter how hard we try to save them, some cats and kittens pass away to disease or failure to thrive.

Despite all the difficulties, the volunteers and fosters at VOKRA continue to do everything they can to give each kitten and cat a fighting chance. Kittens are bottle-fed and cleaned, feral cats are tamed, and they are all lovingly listed on the VOKRA website to be adopted by forever families. It is because at the end of the day, when we send them off in their carriers with their new family, we know that they have found a great home. We know that there is one less kitten or cat out there, lost, scared, and sick.

For more information on VOKRA or how to be involved go to www.orphankittenrescue.com.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mediterranean Inspired Turkey Burgers

All images stock images from the web!!!

Somewhere I ran across a great recipe for Turkey Burgers with Feta and Greek (Kalamata) Olives that I tried once and loved. Can't find it anywhere now. All I can guess is that I originally printed it out, cooked it once and then threw the paper version away thinking it was saved somewhere in my computer. WRONG!!!  In a web search, however, there are tons of recipes to choose from.  It's all about figuring out what the right ratio of ingredients is.

Last night I decided to give it a whirl and carefully measured everything to make sure I could repeat it. Not sure the results were exactly as wonderful as the first try, but not sure what I would change. One of the problems with Turkey Burgers in particular is the meat can be very dry and bland, so the additions in this recipe help kick it up a notch.  I also tried something different this time - a mix of half ground turkey and half ground chicken to make it a little softer in texture. You could even use all chicken if you like.

So here goes.  Don't be afraid to adjust the proportions in a way that suits your taste. You could also make it more complex and flavourful by sauteing some garlic or shallots to add, but be sure and cool it first.  Another possibility could be a few finely chopped sun dried tomatoes. This is a strong addition in terms of flavour, so only add small amounts if you decide to go this direction. You can always increase the amount the next time.

One last note - I actually prefer these as patties severed 2 per plate and accompanied with sides, especially in the winter. For variety or for a summer BBQ, you can also put them in a bun like a burger or in a pita pocket with Greek Tzatziki, lettuce, tomato and cucumber.

Mediterranean Inspired Turkey Patty
Makes 8 patties

1-1/2 lbs.        Ground Turkey, Ground Chicken or a mixture of                       both
100 grams       Finely Crumbled Feta Cheese
1/3 - 1/2 cup   Finely chopped Kalamata Olives
5 oz.               Baby Spinach (wilted on stove or in microwave,                       squeezed dry and chopped.)
1 - 2 tsp          Oregano
To Taste         Pepper
No salt needed as the Feta and Olives cover that.

Other things you could try -
Small amount of finely chopped sundried tomatoes
Sauteed garlic and or shallots, cooled before adding

Great to serve with -
Greek Tzatziki - homemade or store-bought
Mix all ingredients well.  Shape into 8 patties and saute in non-stick pan until lightly browned on both sides or cook on an oiled grill. This is poultry, so be sure they are cooked thoroughly. I don't like to overpower the flavour with sauces, but a small about of Greek Tzatziki on the side would definitely complement the flavours.

Don't be afraid to experiment and ENJOY!!!

Can changing your underwear, change the world?

Submitted by guest writer

Five eco fashion entrepreneurs are willing to bet on it!!!!!

Hopeo was born out of tragedy. Days after the factory collapse in Bangladesh, two friends, Brian Saul and Danielle Rockel decided to start a company that would be the counterpoint to the cheap apparel industry. “I used to buy all the clothes that are made in those unsafe factories. After Bangladesh, it didn't feel right anymore,” says Rockel. “More importantly, I decided to do something about it.” That’s when her and her natural branding guru friend Saul decided to take action. “It started with why we were doing this, and continues to be about why. We believe we can make a difference,” says Saul. “Show the world, there is a better way to treat employees and the planet and still be a profitable and sustainable business.” 

With the recent media attention on the true cost of cheap disposable apparel—"The True Cost of a T-shirt" a Globe & Mail front page feature, and the Fifth Estate piece on the factory collapse—Hopeo is gaining momentum. The company just launched a Kickstarter campaign and already have over 30 backers. As well as Rockel and Saul, the team of five includes fashion designer Claire Carreras along with young entrepreneurs Brittany Whitmore and Rhett Ohlsen. The entire team shares the same commitment to providing a clothing alternative that people can feel good about buying. 

             "Another true cost of cheap disposable t-shirts is the environmental and health 
              implications of the cotton industry. Cotton is one of largest and most important 
              global agricultural crops. According to the World Wildlife Fund 2.4% of the world’s 
              cropland is planted with cotton and yet it accounts for 24% and 11% of the global 
              sales of insecticide and pesticides, respectively. As the fibre is processed workers 
              are exposed to these hazardous chemicals, this all before the process of bleaching 
              and dying which in some cases is equally as hazardous. From field-to-gin-to-spinner
              -to-loom-to-production (or micro-clothier), organic cotton offers safer conditions 
              for workers."

Hopeo makes 100% organic natural cotton underwear handmade in Vancouver, BC. They don't use chemical dyes or bleach and there are no giant logos, just a small henna stamp that washes away over time. All of the organic cotton is grown, milled and processed in North America. The company is employee owned and directed - a micro-clothier, which according to Saul means “all the clothes are designed, made and sold in the same location.” Future plans include opening a Hopeo House in every major city on the west coast.

To raise the capital needed to move forward, the company launched a Kickstarter campaign on October 7. Money raised will be used exclusively to finance their first full production run.
“We are driven by the idea that just because something is simple doesn't mean it needs to be disposable,” says Saul, “and we believe that there are plenty of consumers who share these values.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

Project Runway Season 12 - Finale! And The Winner Is.....................

Here it is - the Finale to determine the winner. Whose collection will rock the runway at Mercedes Benz Fashion WeekTim Gunn takes a moment to talk about what the next few days will hold. First on the list is creating another garment - the Tide Washable Challenge - so they head off to off to Mood Fabrics one last time. $250 and 45 minutes are allotted. How hard this must be as the look has to not only meet the challenge requirements, but be cohesive with their collection. AND it's only two days to their runway show. This garment will replace one of their original pieces as they will still only putting 10 looks down the runway.

Tim's in-studio critique is next. He offers great feedback for everyone involved and occasionally surprises the other designers by his take on a collection. I was most interested to hear what he had to say to Alexandria as Heidi and I loved her garments - Nina hated them - Zac was iffy. He was surprised by their reaction as well, so felt the message was she had to make the looks command more attention on the runway to keep the show from becoming monotonous. He encouraged her to get rid of all the basic t-shirts in particular that accompany many of her looks.Then he gives the truth about the pre-judge - it was a privilege to get that feedback and a disadvantage the others did not. It is, however, a two-edged sword. If the judges see the designer has made changes in the areas they pointed out, they will be happy. If it looks like their advice was ignored, it will be bad. She is obviously worried as some changes can not be made at this late date. She does decide to create at least one new top and change out a few others.

Heidi Klum, Zac Posen, Nina Garcia, Kerry Washington

While most are still finishing their extra look, it's time for final model fittings. Bradon talks about the importance of which look goes on which model and decides not to remove the look that Tim questioned. Alexandria chooses to open with her unconventional challenge. She feels it will start the show with the pop the judges are looking for. Seeing the models loving the clothes rejuvenates her spirits. Justin is excited - and worried - about his 3D pieces. They are both unique and fragile. When they fall off one model during the fitting, he warned them all to walk very straight with no hip swinging. Dom spends extra time deciding which look goes on her muse model as that is the one that will stand next to her on the runway at the final critique.  Billy B is there again to help plan their makeup look for the runway.  Guest judge this week is actress and director Kerry Washington.

Backstage at Lincoln Center it is utter mayhem. One of Justin's models broke her ankle and the replacement has a smaller waist, but there is no time to adjust it. Bradon notes the model's keep bringing their food and coffee too close to his garments and continually asks them to move it all to a safer place. They don't listen and sure enough, one spills coffee down the front of his silk charmeuse gown less than 30 minutes before show time. He frantically blots it. Alexandria is such a perfectionist she obsesses constantly over every little detail. Only Dom seems to be gliding through it all with just the normal excitement level. All in all - the judges had a tough job and the scoring had to be extremely close. Every designer deserved to be here. As the judges take a closer final look they all admit it is anyone's game. As you listen to the critiques though, it becomes clear it is between Dom and Alexandria. How they decided I have no idea.

Dom (Winner) -

Left, Tide Washable Challenge - Right, Unconventional Challenge
Retrofuturism (the future as it was viewed by artists and writers pre-1960's, retro Judy Jetson) - I have always loved Dom as I am a huge fan of colour and print. She created a strong collection that truly reflected who she was as a designer and the feminine looks included lots of low backs which are always appealing. There are a couple I didn't care for. The swimsuit was an odd note in the collection and made the model look blocky through the torso. The shiny silver dress looked more like a nightgown and was hard to walk in. A different fabric, or perhaps in black, might have worked better. Also, except for the swimsuit, the line was mostly dresses which in the past has been a negative as the judges have expressed a desire to see range. Dom was a close second for me, but based on her work all season - her win was well-earned. Comments included - extremely entertaining show, you told the story, a few problems, I would have started it with the jumpsuit, impressed you did the prints, the theme is challenging and for the most part you pulled it off, the bathing suit was the weak outfit - I wasn't impressed by the fit, you rocked the prints and your unconventional challenge was a stunning dress.

Alexandria (2nd, but my choice for winner hands down!) - 

Left, Tide Washable Challenge - Right, Unconventional Challenge
Neo-Nomadic Punk (a strong warrior like girl) - Alexandria took it for me. Her looks were young, hip, edgy and there were many I would love to have in my closet. She included her young students (unbeknownst to them) in the conventional challenge by having them weave newspaper. In the last group meeting with Tim, she was the one who expressed her thanks for this opportunity. She even lent Dom a zipper so she could finish her collection. She is a perfectionist who takes it all so very seriously. Love her and would have given her the win if I could have. Opening with the dress from newspapers was perfect. It was shocking and the layers on the skirt created a constant wave of movement as the model walked. Tim commented backstage that he could see Heidi in every one of these and he was right. This was the most modern of all the collections and oh so wearable. Wonder if she'll offer an online store? Comments included - young hip and now, I love your collection, I love that you started with a big old bang (unconventional material), really successful runway show, spice and attitude but yet vulnerable, an eye for quality, very sell-able, there is a dialog, soft chic and feminine, styled well, editorial, something effortless about your clothes, like that it's a lot of separates and exciting.

Justin (placed 3rd) -

Left, Tide Washable Challenge - Right, Unconventional Challenge
Sound Waves (journey before, during and after his Cochlear Implant) - The fact that Justin was here was amazing. He didn't really come into his own on the show until after Tim's save and was the only designer in the finale that hadn't won a challenge. During pre-judge, he picked his garments well and I thought he might take the win with his original accessories, fabulous unconventional challenge piece and great story. The very stark palette throughout was perhaps a mistake - mostly white on a white runway with a white backdrop. The design/construction elements were strong and interesting. He also offered a full range of looks from casual separates to dresses. On the negative side, a few of the pant crotches didn't lay quite right and the show needed something to give it a bit more pop with the stark palette. Comments include - beautiful collection, the shapes have a balance, 3D printing is excellent, liked the sheer fabrics toward the end, loved the sound waves dress, very polished, loved the accessories, very cohesive, liked the fact I saw many different shapes, a gentle architecture, modern and I wish I had seen 2 more wow looks.

Bradon (Placed 4th) -

Left, Tide Washable Challenge - Right, Unconventional Challenge
Crocus Flower Coming Up Through A Snowbank - In my heart of hearts, I thought Bradon went into the finale definitely at the front of the pack. He had amazed me on so many challenges during the course of the show. I was utterly disappointed that I get the same feel when viewing his collection. There were individual pieces I loved - such as the elastic skirt that looks like rafia) and others I didn't like at all. The look that jarred for me was for the gold jacket with the dark floral pants. When you stepped back and looked at all looks together, I'm not sure it felt as cohesive as some of the other collections - a lot of ideas that didn't quite tie tightly together. He did space them well in terms of flow. I personally was not that fond of the unconventional materials dress, but it might need to be seen in person as it was one of the judges favourites. Comments include - loved your inspiration, (The judges all disagreed on the first look), your hand is expressive and abstract, loved the unconventional materials dress, I have admired your laser focus so it was a big surprise to see it not focused (Nina and I agree here), it's disjointed - too many things going on and if they don't know you they won't understand the story so should have been cohesive.

To see larger images go to RATE THE RUNWAY.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Eco Fashion Week 7th Edition - Holt Renfrew and the Media Room

Images by Alfonso Arnold unless otherwise noted.

Image from Holt Renfrew Photographer
No fashion week functions without the support of the business community and Eco Fashion Week has had some amazing ones. From wonderful booths in the media room offering food, drink, services and more, to the wind-up evening in Holt Renfrew's Project H boutique - I could not have been more thankful. Today's article is in honour of these wonderful businesses.

I want to start with Holt Renfrew as this company has impressed me since day one. My first experience was attending a trend forecast for media and stylists run in the Vancouver store. There I met Carla Stef, Manager of Marketing and Public Relations. I was way behind other attendees in terms of labels and trends, but she was utterly patient. When I wanted to do an Behind the Scenes article on someone in the store, she offered me Christopher Novak - Today Matters. Then a year later I had the privilege of sitting down with her personally to write her story - An Extraordinary Experience. What came out of both interviews was a picture of a forward thinking company always ready to listen to their employees and open to new directions.

Enter the H Project which highlights culture, craft, and artisans from around the world. Launched in May 2013, this store within a store is led by Holt Renfrew's Director of Brand Strategy - Alexandra Weston. At the EFW event, she walked me through the H Project Shop and talked about its focus. There were three criteria for all products sold here: 1- what an item is created from such as eco-friendly or recycled products; 2 - where it was produced such as in a women's co-op; and 3 - unique items done in collaboration with an established designer with 100% of proceeds going to the charity of their choosing. The gallery-like space, designed by Janson Goldstein, was created to inspire artisanal installations, cultural music and videos on a listening wall where customers can learn about the stories behind the products.

One current product being offered is Paul Smith mittens in support of Movember. Every pair of limited edition Paul Smith mittens purchased will help support the men’s health programs on prostate cancer and male mental health initiatives in the area of education, awareness, research and survivorship. Sir Paul Smith shared, “I’m famous for my stripes and so, it seemed like the perfect route to go down in terms of the design for these great  mittens. We hope that you find them fun and cheerful and help to raise awareness and money for Movember, a very worthy cause."
Holt Renfrew promotional image.
Now I want to give a nod to the wonderful companies who were in the Media/VIP room. For those who attend all shows in particular, this was the place to hang out, network and get images shot with old friends and new connections. AND a great place to get out of the cold - it was a bit nippy most nights. One favourite for me was Noodlebox. For several seasons now they have been there the first night offering their Spicy Peanut Noodle Box - Indonesian peanut sauce with Asian greens and ribbon noodles. I believe they offered this in a gluten-free version for EFW. Now for something to drink after those spicy noodles! Be Pure 100% natural coconut water had a table offering samples in 4 flavours - Pure, Aloe Vera, Mango and Pomegranate.

What media room would be complete without more adult libations? This season the wonderful red and white wines were provided by Cono Sur Wines and for a different option, there was a great Scandal Organic Ale by PW Brewing. I can personally attest to the fact there was a constant line up here each day and those working the bar offered each of us a smile along with our drink. Beauty company La Biosthetique also provided a make-up bar where a professional each night was available to touch up your look. After a long day like this, it was truly a joy to relax and let someone freshen you up.

Last but not least was a mixed assortment of Healthy Indulgence bars available each day provided by Kind Snacks. I could not have made it through the long days without them. Going to have to get some for my pantry at home as they are a perfect grab-as-you-run option and they come in a great selection of flavours such as Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate, Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachio, Peanut Butter Strawberry, Blueberry Pecan and Apple Cinnamon & Pecan.

Promotional image from website
You can check out more sponsors below and more than anything, be sure to support these businesses! It's the best way to say thank-you for their involvement.

University of the Fraser Valley - Ning Hao - It All Began With Barbie

by guest writer Jenica Chuahiock - Tattles, Tales n' Things

I always have passion for fashion,” says budding designer, Ning Hao. Always. That’s because she insists on going further: passion is fashion! And what a journey it has been, beginning with a childhood pastime in China, and through a convoluted path of science and architecture, to eventually finding her happiness in fashion design.

Ning Hao’s humble origins began in a Christmas tree factory in Shenzhen,China, where she was frequently left to play alone in a room. “My parents were really busy when I was a kid.I was in a room by myself most of the time. So my mom taught me how to sew, so I can make clothes for my Barbie doll. “[Sewing doll clothes] was when I realized I loved crafts. The factory would buy scrap fabric to wipe the oil off of the machines. That was my only source of fabric. I remember how I made a crop top and mini skirt for my Barbie, and I just made whatever I think will look good.” The memory of her dolly dress-making is so vivid; she is certain of its significance in her dreams, even after going through a tomboy phase of baggy jeans and oversize shirts, and yes, even after once having to give up her dreams for fashion.

Like most young designers, the first obstacle is convincing your parents to support your creative dream. Ning Hao’s parents were no different, so she focused on architecture. The decision was not a total loss though, as this turn of events has lead her to the University of Fraser Valley (UFV). “Believe it or not,” she laughed, “The first time I went to visit UFV was during high school, and I saw a double rainbow there. I think it was a good sign.” So off to UFV she went, where she was initially a science student—sort of. “I have art elective courses to take. “So I took weaving classes at UFV. And I just felt like this is what I really like to do, I felt so happy working on every project. Even weaving by myself late at night, I still didn’t feel tired at all!” Then gradually, the little girl who made doll clothes from rags came through, and the future designer mustered up the courage to face her parents. In time, they have come to accept how their daughter’s happiness lies with fabrics, colors and patterns. Why wouldn’t they support her now?

While some artistic minds shun the rigors of numbers and equations, Ning Hao has found a way to embrace it. Having spent some time being a science student, buried in arithmetic puzzles, she has learned something valuable that would apply towards career in fashion. “I thought I had wasted 5 years studying math and economy in college. “However, I have come to realize that [my math and science background] helps me to become different from other designer. Every experience makes me the person I am today. It makes me become more logical when I am working. It makes me see things a Mathematical way. Sometimes in math, when we need to solve a complex equation, we need to break it apart and simplify it. It’s kind of the logic I use when I am designing. After I have a design in my head, I break it into pieces and think about what is the hardest thing to deal with, or what task takes the most time. This kind of thinking makes me more efficient. I can use the same, limited time to make more things than other people can.”

Talent, logic and long hours of dedication have brought Ning Hao here, to her fashion debut. After constantly sewing, remaking and defending her designs, she is now about to face the fashion world, starting with her first ever collection inspired by her Issey Miyake BaoBao purse. “I really love geometric shapes, maybe that’s because of my mathematical background. And the triangle is my favorite shape. So I thought cutting fabrics into triangles and then joining them together will be fun. And for even more fun, I think it would be cool to make the triangles stand out!” With a design in mind, Ning Hao proceeds to pick the palette, which was actually inspired by a fabric she found, abstract roses of blue, turquoise, purple, green and white. The collection is her work of art, and each piece is much loved. But if she had to pick one absolute favorite: the pant suit, of course!

After graduating, she is set for the next chapter of her fashion career, searching for opportunities to grow. “I’ll work for others for a while, then launch my own line. I love prints. One day, I hope I can design my own fabric for my own brand. And, I am also trying to find new methods of construction to make fabric look different…” continues Ning Hao. “I know there are soooo many talented people out there. So many great artists and designers are working in this industry. It’s hard to say what’s new, since it feels like everything has been done before. But still, I think I can bring a new perspective to fashion!”

For more information on the Fashion Design Program at the University of the Fraser Valley go to www.ufv.ca/fashion/.