Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Vancouver Recording Artist Jody Quine - On Tour Part 2

by Guest Writer Jody Quine, Singer/Songwriter/Composer, Musician
Notes from the road on her recent U.S. tour with Little Miss (age 6), Sweet Petite (age 4) and Dad

Where to begin! What a week it’s been. Heading out on tour with my children and father in tow to support my recent release, Seven, has been a busy and amazing experience full of sites, sounds, exasperation and adventure! After a thoroughly enjoyable experience in Tacoma with the Littles in attendance and Little Miss running the merch table - which I might like to add I never asked her to do she was just born wanting to sell - we set out for San Francisco.

12 hours door to door over 10 in the van, and we arrived in Eureka. We beelined to the coast from Grants Pass hoping to hit Crescent City by sunset and see a bit of the Oregon Coast but alas we arrived 10 minutes after sunset and I was only able to point out the shadows of cool rock formations on the many shades of grey ocean, lol, so it goes! The Redwoods the next morning on our way into SF however were amazing It was such a beautiful drive. We listened to my friend Michael Lewin’s most recent CD while driving the famous Avenue Of The Giants including driving through a hollowed out tree! Very cool.


By the time we hit San Francisco the next day we were all a little car sick though and the hills got to the Littles. They were thrilled to get out of the van and settle in at the airbnb I had booked. San Francisco, yep. This beautiful apartment was on the top floor of a 3 story building and the stairs were all UP - no elevator. Remember all that gear, and my merch… UP it went!

50 Mason Social House is a cool little place in the Tenderloin District. This is not the place to leave anything unattended. The corners are covered in people who have chosen something other and more harsh than music to find their joy. The room however has a cool vibe and a nice little stage in the corner. D. Edward and his 7 piece group were up first. Fun jazzy/soul/funk filled the space and D’s infectious spirit warmed the room right up and his band is of the stellar kind! His background singer is amazeballs!

Jeff Oster, a horn player on Laura Sullivan’s Grammy winning CD Love’s River that I play pretty much everyday was there. His playing is so stunning I couldn’t help but gush all over him at least 4 times in the first 20 minutes of being in his presence, ‘Oh my goodness, you play with such feeling, I just LOVE it’. I melted on and on. At one point, with a little exasperation he reached into his pocket and said, ‘Okay, here you go’, and passed me his CD. Whoo hoo!! Even more exciting is after he heard me play he offered to join me on stage for my show the following week in San Francisco, which is tonight at Second Act on Haight! Yep, I’m playing in the famous Haight & Ashbury area and during the 2 songs that Joe departs the stage and I play solo, Jeff Oster will be stepping in to play Now Or Never with me. I’m thrilled!

Rounding out the night was Garrick Davis and the Fabulous FunkyBand. San Francisco is full of amazing musicians and there were so many in that room that night, I felt honoured that they had all collected there as a result of my tour. Very cool.

The show at Room 5 Lounge in Los Angeles was a full on treat! After 2 shows with no real sound guy running the board Nathan at Room 5 was a gift, talented and present. This was by far the most fun I’ve had on stage so far. I had a wonderful turn out with some of my favourite people in attendance and Joe and I are starting to find our stride, again having a sound guy… awesome. After my set in LA the Steve Messina fronted Blow Up Hollywood took the stage and by the 5th song I was in. I interviewed Steve after his set when we were able to hang out for a little bit for my blog series called 5 Minutes With. You can watch it HERE if you like!

Last night after parking PapaQ and the Littles in a Burbank hotel for the evening I drove down to San Diego for an open mic at Letstat's. What a great venue! I love going to places where LIVE music is obviously important. I love it.

As I wasn’t able to book a show at Lestats because they do an open mic every Monday night and that was the night I could be there, Lou of Lestats agreed to secure me a 2 song spot. After my 2 songs, (Finch Diving and Now Or Never) another girl got up for her 2 songs and when she was done she raced off the stage… the host was no where to be seen… the stage sat empty. After about 2 minutes of nothing happening, as I was seated right near the front of the room, I jumped up on stage and took the opportunity to fill the moment. I asked the audience if we should make up a song, they were in. What should it be about I asked? ‘Dead air!’ somebody shouted out. So I improvised an acapella song called Dead Air, the room joined me in some clapping in time… still no host.

As I had already been quite clear during my 2 songs that I was hoping to book a whole show at Lestats and that I wished I could play more I asked the crowd if I should just do another song on the piano. They agreed I should. So I did. I played Hollywood. Near the end of the song the host and Lou showed up and stood to the left of me discussing my stolen stage time… well so it goes! I scooted off as soon as I could but Dead Air was a big hit and again some rad peeps came out to the show including Billy David!

After tonight (Tuesday March 25th) at Second Act in San Francisco I’m playing a 30 minute solo set in Sacramento at Naked Lounge tomorrow night (Wednesday March 26th) and Friday (March 28th) at The Gig Spot in Gig HaborWashington. Basically this week I get to sing 4 out of the 5 nights! Happy jody.

Jody Quine is a recording artist out of Vancouver, Canada, on tour down the US West Coast in support of her new EP, Seven. - you can check out pre and post show videos here!
Chat Conversation End

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 14 Day 6 - Unified Theory, Soojin Lee, Evolet and Noe Bernacelli

Image by Kuna Photography
Here we are - the final post.  For those of you who have been reading my articles each day, I'm sure it has become clear how much fun I had this season. The runway between shows was full of warmth, connecting with current friends, making new ones and an abundance of photo ops. Those there every day worked hard to come up with interesting styles and a few rose to the top for knocking it out of the park with each outfit. The only downside today was a case of withdrawal and feet slightly swollen from wearing heels for 7 days.

My favourite image from Day 6 I am titling Dueling Photographers - Ed Ng on left and ?????.  I tried taking the pic, but Kuna captured the moment better. The photogs covering this event are truly packed into the pit during shows. How they keep from bumping into each other while shooting I have no idea. Then they run out during breaks trying to capture great candids of what the event was like and the people in attendance. Kudos to each of them for their hard work. Special thanks to the four I personally worked with - Peter Jensen, Kuna Lu, Ed Ng and Norm Lee. Wish I had taken a candid of the "team".

Image by Winston Wong
I wanted to mention one last sponsor who helped to make this event possible - Kean Tan of NexusV Inc. and MODI$club. This company powered the VFW branded mobile site and sponsored both the Txt2Win Contest (won by Ferial Sultanali) and the Txt2Vote People's Choice Designer contest - both new this season. Tan was kind to share some thoughts on being involved this season - "We've been very excited to work with VFW to bring their branding and marketing to the forefront of international standard via technology. There have been great reviews on the mobile site we've designed and developed - easy to navigate and slick looking (simply visit on your phone to get to the mobile version). The Txt2Win & Txt2Vote campaigns have also been a success helping VFW build up a mobile database for the seasons to come."

Now for the shows. I was saved from having the terrible job of decided which 4 to chose today as the last day featured exactly 4. So here we go...........................

The Unified Theory

Images by Kuna Photography

Unified Theory opened the shows today with menswear which is always exciting to see. The show was particularly interesting in that the last time I saw this designer from Saskatchewan was on the runway at VFW S/S 14 and the collection was womenswear. Check out the review HERE. But I love to be surprised. The designer - Sara - has such an expressive way with words that I want to share this from her website, "So it's like this…born in Ontario, Canada and raised on the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. Finally settling [as much as it is possible] with a good view of the stars on the Prairies. Never living one place for too long created a nomadic spirit in me which is unanimous in my designs. I always lived in places that surrounded me with undeniable beauty and forces of nature. Forces so vast and powerful they could only inspire...I think that fashion should be timeless, and parallel the natural architecture of it's surroundings.”

The looks in her current collection were easy to wear, loose in fit and other than the bright orange boxers, in mostly muted fall colours. One sign of great design is when the models seem to enjoy wearing the looks and these men obviously did. When they came out as a group at the end of the show they were full of energy and really played it up with the crowd. I wish she had accompanied them to the end of the runway. Hoping this designer comes back again as after 2 such totally different collections, I'm intrigued to see what she will bring to the runway next.

Soojin Lee

Images by Kuna Photography

Korean designer Soojin Lee was next on the runway. I have struggled to find much in the way of background on her, but here is a bit.  She originally studied art but after deciding to pursue fashion, moved to London - where she still resides - and in 2010 earned a BA from Central Saint Martins. Resume highlights include impressive fashion brands such as Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan and Emilio de la Morena and Lee was one of the international emerging designers featured in the iFashion Network sponsored iFashion Week 2012 held in New York.

This collection featured a great selection of separates - pants, skirts, blouses, jackets and vests -  as well as a few dresses. What caught my eye during this show was the use of print. One I thought worked particularly well was a printed cape over a solid colour dress with a touch of print trim near the hemline. I will add a picture of it when it becomes available. This was a first showing for this designer at VFW. Kudos!

Images by Peter Jensen

There was an understated touch of elegance to the next show - Evolèt - by designer Jercy Gutierrez from Peru. He moved to Paris at a young age to immerse himself in the world of fashion, acquiring knowledge and skills needed to enter the luxury industry. After working as creative director for Barbara BUI Groups, a commercial buyer for the Kaburi Boutiques and becoming a member of the commercial directors at the House of Prada, the designer discovered his love for the creative side of fashion. Returning to Peru, Gutierrez launched a brand to reflect his own vision - a line of truly beautiful clothing for the refined, elegant, sophisticated woman.

Images by Peter Jensen
I am a fan of beautiful fabric, elegant silhouettes and couture tailoring. I was enthralled from opening to the final offering. This collection - called Amazon Woman - held all 3. From his press release, "In this collection I try to represent the femininity and the power that identifies them as Amazons." What we saw on the runway was also the perfect example of less-is-more.  Each look was subtle and yet eye catching.  Each exuded a rich, subtle elegance. The prints in particular were well chosen to show a range from a little more edgy as in the pants bottom left, to those show in the images above. Nothing popped out though - it all blended seamlessly into one beautiful flow. The other note I wanted to make was on the mix from soft, draping satin to the unique cropped knits - great mix of textures. I can only hope Jercy Gutierrez returns for another season. I was entranced. And I apologize. He was across the runway from me for several days and had I known who he was, I would have introduced myself.

Noe Bernacelli

Images by Peter Jensen

I have no idea how to even start this write-up. Noe Bernacelli is another offering from Peru where obviously couture has taken a strong hold.  He is also one of my favourites from last season where he showed 2 collections. You can read the review HERE.  I was so impressed I also wrote an article for Raine Magazine in New York.  How do you follow up???  For those who were not here last season,  The designer began a love affair with art at the tender age of 14 that lead him to study at the Carlo Esciccoli Fashion Design Institute in Milan. He returned to Peru six years ago, but the influence of Italy is still apparent. After last night, I can honestly say that is an understatement.

Images by Peter Jensen
Bernacelli is a master of haute couture construction. This season he only showcased his beautiful dresses and gowns. The designer's application of detailing on sheer fabric is phenomenal.  It never looks like something is added, every intricate moment is a seamless part of the overall look. His blend of individual elements into a perfect final work is among the best I have ever seen. He is the only designer who had me entranced by a beige gown - not easy to pull off in the luxury sector. The collection offered satin, sheers, lace, feathers, pastels, vivid red, burgundy and black in varying range of silhouettes. My favourite hands down was the black gown in the top row of images on the right. It took my breath away. I am forever a huge fan and hope he continues to return to the Vancouver stage.

Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 14 Day 6 - Audience and Backstage Candids

In celebration of the last day of Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW), photographer Ed Ng sent me a great grouping of candids to chose from and I couldn't decide which to use. Then I received a few from Kuna Photography which had to go up.  May add more as they come in.

It really was 7 days of fun, friendship and community highlighted by experiencing the artistry of designers from all over the world.  Every single designer I had a chance to speak to was amazingly friendly and shared about their work with a passion that drew you in.  Congrats to all involved on another great season. I'm already looking forward to September for S/S '15.

Images by Ed Ng Photography

Images by Kuna Photography

Monday, March 24, 2014

Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 14 Day 5 - ERIKÓ. By David Alfonso, Sirette, Pierre Renaux and Ipek Tohumcu

Takaokami Rainwear
Image by Kuna Photography
Yesterday was crazy!! Somehow I mixed up Sunday and Monday and thought shows started an hour later. I was chatting on the phone to my daughter in Ontario when I realized my mistake. The first show was due to start and I was still in Richmond. After quickly calling Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) to let them know - it was in the car and on the road.  I literally ran from my parking space - changed to my high heels in the lobby and exploded through the closed doors to find the first show ready to start. Hugging people along the way all while being urged to sit, I made it to my seat. In sheer joy I performed a little happy dance on the runway to many a smiling face. I felt like 2 things in that moment - a celebrity being seated in front of the audience and the last passenger to enter the plane.

Today I want to take a moment and mention another sponsor. Sponsors are the life-blood of any fashion week, often making the difference between a struggle to stay afloat and a packed/standing-room-only event like we're seeing this week. So today is my chance to thank Hasselblad Cameras for their involvement. First I saw this amazing wooden camera body flash on the screen during one of the promo videos. Then I walked pass their display case filled with what are honestly truly beautiful pieces of art. Lastly their representative spoke before the show a couple nights. I want to take a moment and share some of his words from Sunday. "At Hasselblad, design is a chore principal. The founder believed each and every camera should have 3 things -

Image by Peter Jensen

        1. It should Melt In You Hand (for you techies that means be ergonomically perfect). 
        2. It should be technically perfect with no compromises taken.
        3. It should look beautiful."

If you haven't stopped by their booth. I would take a minute today as it's your last chance. I promise you'll be amazed.

Images by Ed Ng
Images by Ed Ng

Now for my 4 picks.  A tough day as always to choose. Takaokami - a unique line of rainwear I didn't get a chance to include here - had my runway moment of the day. The designer started the show with a model riding a bicycle in gold heels and then came out for her bow seated on a bike with the same model was pushing it down the runway. In honour of her creativity I have put her as my lead image above. Be sure and check out her runway pics as the pieces were amazing!

ERIKÓ. By David Alfonso

Images by Ed Ng
ERIKÓ. By David Alfonso was a great show stopper collection to start the day. Bold, colourful and full menswear in unexpected prints - the line's Creative Director had the audience in his hands from start to finish. Alfonso was working as an architect Colombia when the siren call of fashion came. After studying design in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this talented artist decided to return home and launch his own unique brand of menswear. He chose to address the lack of WOW in menswear and embraced colour, texture and daring to express the male identity.  The line is risky, modern and versatile - designed for a confident man sure of his masculinity and ready to take centre stage when it entering a room.

Images by Ed Ng
There were several things I loved about this collection. First was the choice to present every 2 mens looks with a complimentary woman's look. It gave balance on the runway and allowed us to see the looks in a group setting. I also loved the mix of prints. While I think most remember the bright florals, if you look above at the images, you'll see a the true range that includes some not quite as vivid, but still unique, choices. It's also amazing to see someone take menswear out of the box it's been in for decades. Lastly I loved that when designer David Alfonso came out for his bow. He out-shined everyone with his bold suit, great eye wear and fantastic blue shoes. I had just a brief chance to say hi later in the evening and found him warm, vibrant, uber friendly and full of smiles for each person he talked to.


image by Kuna Photography

How do you follow such a bold show? With something totally opposite of course. That's what keeps everyone on the edge of their seats through a long night of shows. Sirette by London designer Veronica Gargallo Llamas was the perfect choice. Born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, she recently graduated with her Master in Fashion Design from the London College of Fashion. The collection we saw this evening - titled Sugar Rush - was her grad collection with an additional 5 pieces. The designer looks to find inspiration outside the fashion industry to help her create a label that is unconventionally unique and this collection has an interesting one.

While the description offered on the brand's Facebook page is "a playful, fresh and feminine take on classic shirting." it is interesting to note that the inspiration actually came from medicine. Here is an excerpt from her interview with Lorenzo Schober in The Province, "The prints used in Sugar Rush are blown up images of the fallopian tube, the trachea, and the lower intestinal tract...The concept of Sugar Rush revolves, on a micro scale, around the immune system attacking itself due to illness such as diabetes, and on a larger scale towards theories on society’s inclination towards auto-destructive practices." While this all sounds very intellectual, the final looks were soft. Pastels fabrics from sheers to wovens, plain and printed, were shaped into very young, feminine silhouettes. Flared skirts gently swayed. It took one away to warm breezes, balmy afternoons and gentler times.  

Pierre Renaux

Images by Peter Jensen

First bold, then soft - then came the next show by Pierre Renaux which was futuristic and sculptural. According to his Facebook page, he is from Concarneau, lives in Paris and is a former intern of Thierry Mugler. I believe this is the designer's Master's of Fashion Design final collection shown at graduation from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. With the real work world fast approaching, this was his chance to create a collection where he could control every aspect from concept to final look. It was inspiring to say the least.

Rather than try to explain all the intricate shapes and silhouettes in this black/white/gray collection, I would like to offer the designer's own words. "Anticipating [graduation] resulted in the 'clearance sale' or 'everything must go' principle, translated into a womenswear collection that shows garments that are in the middle of being ruined and/or dissolved. At the basis is a business woman's attire, the image of a cold, god-like, controlled woman, 'the last woman standing' of a company, a CEO who had to fight in order to say what she wanted to say, and who wears suits as rigid, armour-like garments. It is contemporary formal attire with a twist: the synthetic materials (neoprene, wax, plastic) are being distorted, twisted and appear to be melting or seem to consist of glass shards. They are mutating. Each silhouette contains the tension between a kind of coldheartedness and more sensual shapes, between strength and softness." The perfect finishing note in styling was his unbelievable 3D printed shoes!  I would kill for a pair in black - hint, hint! Excellent show! Very inspiring!

Ipek Tohumcu

Images by Peter Jensen
I was so excited to see Ipek Tohumcu - from Istanbul, Turkey - back on the runway and having her close the evening was just the right note. You can read about her previous appearance HERE. Tohumcu is from a family of silk producers and worked as a designer for several well-known companies. One mentioned in particular was working under the supervision of Mario Lupia - owner of Giorgio Sant Angelo. The designer is also a highly skilled colorist who teaches at the university level to a wide range of disciplines including students in Architecture and Interior Design. I am a huge fan. Her aesthetic is truly original, the tailoring is impeccable and the detail work incorporated into the garments is intricate and oh so stunning.  

Images by Peter Jensen

Looks seen in this collection take you from day into evening and are created in fabrics ranging from silk to leather and wool. Individuals pieces complement a woman's figure without being overly body hugging - comfort and fashion in one beautiful union. Artistry is in evidence throughout in the use of colour, the way separate fabrics are blended, in the considered placement of unique embellishments and in the designer's sculptural use of both stiff and fluid materials. While I had several favourite looks, probably the top 2 - despite my huge love of colour - were the eye catching black/white pieces. In the top photo strip on the left I adore the knee-length coat paired with red gloves. In the bottom strip 2nd from left is a great white jacket with red trim paired with black pants. I would wear this in a second. Another great show by Tohumcu and I was glad to be there to see it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 14 Day 4 - Nadia + Zehra, Mario Young, Yuhshi Takahashi and Jose Zafra

These 3 men I absolutely adore.
Every year it's a please to reconnect.
We're up to day 4 of runway shows at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW).  I always pick one day to thank the many volunteers/staff working at the door, on the runway and behind the scenes by bringing a treat. This was the day. There was no time to bake, so it was a 3 kinds of cookies from Safeway bakery that filled the void - chocolate, red velvet and shortbread with caramel.

What fun it was to pop in early before the doors opened and wander around snapping pics while offering them a treat. Even after so many days of work, they were smiling and oh so friendly. Unfortunately in looking at the pics I have, I actually took very few. Guess I ended up saying thanks and handing out treats more than snapping. Going to try and get more today. This is my chance to again say thank-you to each of you for making my time so wonderful.

Still lots of photo ops on the runway before and after shows, but as people tire, the frenzy has definitely settled down. It has become more about seeking out those you haven't had a chance to connect with and to strengthen bonds with new acquaintances. I also had a lovely lady introduce herself - Ekaterina Sytcheva - who is rep for a great European line which will be showing at VFW in September. How fun to get a heads up early and start to hear about the next season before the current one is finished.

Images by Ed Ng

Images by Ed Ng

Now for today's picks. There is a real dichotomy in what people want to see on the runway. Many look for wearable offerings they can buy. Jaded industry professionals prefer to see something different that makes them sit up in their seats. What is offered below is widely divergent.  I love it when runway is like this as it keeps me interested through 3-5 hours of shows. Enjoy.

Nadia + Zehra

Images by Kuna Photography
Together We Innovate New Shit!" -- “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a FUCK.” This London-based duo offers both art for your wall as well as totally unique wearable pieces. They are graduates of the Polimoda Fashion School in Florence, Italy, and for their separate graduate collections actually created distinctive pieces that complimented and contrasted with their twin's. From their bio, "Drawing inspiration from their heritage, Nadia uses Italian costume and Zehra Turkish costumes brought a personal aspect to their collections." They are "..a lifestyle brand with a new twist."

Nadia + Zehra was great out-of-the-box show to open the evening. It grabbed you from the first look and kept you on the edge of your seats right to the designers taking their bow. Wild colours, zany styling, feathers, incredible head gear/specs made from Lego - it was a wild ride. Their work has been described in the past as “Teletubbies on acid.” I like it. Tucked in there were pieces for the brave as well as a few that if styled right, could work their way into a more traditional wardrobe. You had to look a little closer for those, but they were there.  Have to admit I loved the sweater that said, "FUCK OFF" on the back. Guess I have a wilder side and there are days...... We need more runway offerings like this that challenge the status quo. It's what keeps fashion interesting.

Mario Young

Images by Kuna Photography

I love seeing menswear on the runway and it doesn't happen often enough, so was delighted to see Mario Young's collection this evening. Hard to find out a lot about him though. His website is not working and his twitter account takes you to a link at a University of the Arts in London page where he earned a BA. His resume is impressive, with experience gained working with Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Omar Kashoura and Christopher Raeburn and lists that he is now studying at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. Hopefully that is up to date. The designer works to keep commercially aware of developing his brand as a business while offering a menswear collection with high standards in presentation, unique styling and a modern philosophy.

The looks from his collection were interesting particularly for their blend of fabrics. Jackets and vests in cream or black were 3-dimensional structures fashioned from a neoprene-like fabric. Underneath were garments fashioned from a dark textile embellished with deep toned threads to give it a natural feel. I loved the contrast of the two elements. There was one natural sweater thrown in the mix with raised folds to blend the textural and sculptural element in one look.  Black and white neutral pants finished the looks. The collection offered looks that stretched the boundaries, but were still very wearable. My favourite was a combination of model and garment - 2nd from left above. The models long hair and mustache/beard really blended well with the overall look of the garments.  Great styling choice. This is definitely one young designer I'll be keeping my eye on and I hope to learn a little more about him soon. 

Yuhshi Takahashi

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen

The second show of the night by Japanese designer Yuhshi Takahashi took the audience in a whole new inspiring direction. I couldn't have been happier. This was a another designer I could find very little information on. His FB page is new with the about section still empty and the one link I could find I had to use Bing translation to read and we all know how crazy that can turn out. Here is what I gleaned. This talented designer was born in Gifu and is a graduate of the haute couture Bunka Fashion College Graduate School. He has interned working for apparel manufacturers, launching his own label just last year (2013).

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen
Loved the edgy, cool vibe of this collection. One write-up I found online suggested a theme of "fragility and transience" and that the collection expressed a view of the world based on his own story. It was not clear if the comment was referring to F/W 14. The palette was kept to a simple white/black theme which let the interesting silhouettes take centre stage. My favourite look was definitely the crop top and skirt with the hand-dyed hem in the middle in the bottom photo or 2nd from left in the strip above. I would love to own that skirt and to compliment my shape would wear it paired with an uber-edgy black jacket, draped white shirt and a statement necklace. I also really liked the 1st look which was the all black dress with a taupe edge at the asymmetrical hemline and 2 different length sleeves. Another designer I will be watching as his star rises.

Jose Zafra

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen
South America is currently a virtual hot bed of amazing luxury designers. Tonight we were treated to gowns by Jose Zafra from Lima, Peru.  From the age of 9, this designer was drawn to the arts - studying both drawing and painting.  By the age of 12, fashion became a focus and hundreds of sketches were completed by the end of secondary school. His first collection included a whopping 50 pieces which were exhibited and sold in a renown fashion house he worked for. The designer was only 19. A year later his unique style and talent at blending colour, structure and fashion brought him national and international attention. Celebrities, influential women, fashion/television show, beauty pageants and more were on his client list. It's hard to know how he finds the time for his companion role as a Professor of Fashion Design at the prestigious School of Fashion Norka.

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen

What we saw on the runway last night were mostly long gowns in a variety of silhouettes.  The collection was titled "Amantani" - a reference to an island on Titicaca Lake which was the inspiration for each piece in the collection. "Emerging from [Titicaca Lake] as a goddess is Amantani Isle, stopped in time - mystical and imposing. Every detail that adorns it attracts the eye." Zafra offered us a wide range of silhouettes and hues. Organza, silk, tulle, fringe, embroidery, crystals, beads, sequins were incorporated. One element seen throughout was the use of sheer fabrics - both nude and in colours to match the gown. It anchored deep open spaces and provided a foundation to add embellishment.  I liked it best when it was in a colour to match the garment. 2 dresses that drew my eye were: a lovely one deep red with small strips of fabric stitched into body hugging shapes and the other a black lacy number with a Spanish. As is traditional haute couture, the show ended with a striking, beautiful white wedding gown. This was a great show to end another wonderful day of shows.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Vancouver Fashion Week Day 3 - Romielle, Gardé Del Avante and Shravan Kumar

With talented designer Naanafya Adu
of Gardé Del Avante Jewelry
Well, it's happening already.  I'm exhausted.  This week is always such a high for me full of amazing energy, the chance to connect with so many wonderful industry friends as well as meet new ones and the opportunity to see fashions from around the world. Every year there are one or two who floor me with what they're doing. Between shows, people literally flood the runway and it becomes a hive of talking, laughing, photo ops and more.  It is one of the things that makes Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) unique. And a bonus - I shed a few unwanted pounds from the pace I keep.

The downside is the schedule I keep.  Up early to write up the previous day (usually 3 hours minimum), figuring out what to wear so I can keep pace with my uber-stylist friends which takes more time than you think and often cooking dinner for the family before I leave. Then the energy is absolutely palpable all night which means when I get home I'm truly on empty, yet sleep doesn't come easy as the mind is abuzz.  But to be honest, I wouldn't miss a single moment! Please forgive me if I get droopier each day and your name slips my mind. A hug and smile awaits regardless.

Images by Norm Lee

Images by Norm Lee

And now for today's choices.  As I am wearing out, I have had to unfortunately cut back to 3 in order to finish in time, but they are great ones and offer an amazing range from Western couture to cutting edge jewelry to exotic high-end East Indian designs.  Enjoy!


Image by Kuna Photography
Watching the models come down the runway, it was impossible to fathom this was the first collection for the mother/daughter team Irina and Anastacia Shorohov. Irina brings professional experience as a wedding gown designer - couture tailoring, construction and detailing.  Anastacia is the artist who brings her fashion industry experience (including Drama Queen Import/Export) to mixing drama, flattering silhouettes and the element of seduction into the looks. The designers share, "The collection consists of high-end quality garments for women who love to wear luxurious fabrics and styles that increase feeling empowered and beautiful."

Industry professionals near me and I could not stop whispering as look after look went down the runway.  Romielle is a sophisticated, boutique-style clothing line featuring excellent fabrics, thoughtful silhouettes and beautiful tailoring.  Vintage and contemporary elements are fused to create something both classic and modern. I loved the mix of textiles and was particularly drawn to the light white/black material in the suit 2nd from left above. It had a slight sparkle thread in the fabric took it to pure luxury status. That suit in particular showcased it best by the cut and the placement of the black leather accents.  The final unique wedding dress was the perfect close to a perfect show. There was a sophistication to it that was a standout for me and I loved the hint of vintage it offered. Can't wait to see more from this label.

Gardé Del Avante 

Image by Kuna Photography

"Evolving the way you wear jewelry!" - yes, that about sums it up. Toronto designer Naanafya Adu of Gardé Del Avante Jewelry is a self-taught artist who creates high-end pieces that are both thought provoking and redefine what the term "normal" means. Clients are looking to step out of the box and want pieces that are both conversation generating and exclusive. Naanafya offers just that. I want to quote from her bio as her words say it better than I can. "...Each piece from Naanafya's ready-to-wear collection is part of a limited-edition series rarely exceeding 6-8 units of one style. The craftsmanship in Naanafya’s pieces continues to inspire and innovate by reaching outside of "the box" redefining what makes jewelry such a personal expression through her use of zinc belt buckles, exotic feathers, aluminum chains, luxurious leather finishes, plated elements and stainless steel spikes. By exploring creative ways to blend traditional and non-traditional elements in jewelry making- particularly her innovative approach on body harnesses (body décor) have become the centrepiece of Naanafya’s signature style."

The designer's table upstairs featured large, bold necklaces and a rings, but in her show we were treated to wearable art pieces with feather epaulets, chain sleeves and more. Jewelry can be lost on the runway, but these took the audience from the first look and held us right through the designer's walk. Kudos! This is definitely a line I want it my arsenal for an upcoming event. FYI - some of her statement making designs are also available for rental!

Shravan Kumar

Image by Kuna Photography
What a great end to the night as always.  The final show needs to be a show-stopper and designer Shravan Kumar did just that.  Based out of Hyderabad, India, he creates designs that embrace the latest trends and styles - but with his own unique touch. The countries rich variety of hand looms offer unique fabric choices and he is not afraid to make bold use of unconventional fabrics. From his bio, "His collections usually reflect his way of approach to life that is ethnic and regal.  Shravan Kumar believes fashion is a 'recurring cycle' in a nutshell." I was delighted to find his website URL Fashion the! 

Image by Kuna Photography
From the first look to the final, Kumar owned the audience. How could I pick just 8 looks to share? I couldn't.  So I had the photographer make that hard decision for me. A fairly muted palette anchored the collection, allowing the great pops of colour including orange, burgundy, blue and green to keep the energy high. The women's designs had that beautiful movement and feminine touch I love. Models floated down the runway obviously loving the looks they were wearing. And then there was the menswear. I have to admit, I have a special love of Indian menswear.  It masculine, oh so sexy and embraces colour and print in a way Western culture is still slow to accept - way way too slow! Kudos to this designer for ending the night on such an amazing note. 

Image by Norm Lee